This year we celebrate our anniversary with 10 years of building brands. A milestone that inspires us to reflect on our past, appreciate our present and take a sneak peek into our future at Vibe Group. In short, here are 5 takeaways on our shared culture by Sander Blankendaal representing Germany, Ben Frison representing Belgium, and Melanie Kap representing the Netherlands:
- Vibe Group is all about its Vibers: if everyone is happy, we continue to grow;
- Appreciate all the Vibers that have built the foundation for us to create legacy on;
- The cycle of Vibe: with TA and L&D we create the future through next generation Vibers;
- Marketing makes us stand out in this competitive world by shaping the markets perception;
- We work with people: be authentic and get personal to build sustainable relationships.
Interesting? That’s why you better make sure to read every letter and discover the full story behind these business gems.
Sander, you joined Spilberg in 2014 while it was a startup, with a clear goal to mediate IT developers, right?
“Yes, since the founding in 2013 as a response to the markets need for developers, we still had a long way to go. At Spilberg we are specialized in development professionals who develop applications, websites, and systems. We focus on the best developers and programmers who write code that is used for software. This software can be categorized in front end, the visual client side, and the back end, the unseen server side."
What mentality brought Spilberg till fruition in the early days?
"A real startup mentality defined by 'quitting is not an option'. Back then, the market was different than it is now today. In that time, we still needed to bring in clients, where we now are much more candidate focused. Make no mistake, in 2014 we still had to use phones with cords. You can probably imagine me all tangled up due to nonstop calling.
I never forget about the phone, because it was visually easy to see who was calling or not. And believe me, everyone was calling all the time. You literally only hung up the phone to pick it up again. Especially because we had momentum. In these times, the companies were carefully starting to invest again after the recession ending in 2011. Picture some of us Vibers actually calling from underneath our desks just because of all the decibels we produced together making all those deals.”
Sounds like hard, but exciting times! What was it like for you?
“To be honest I was put to the test a lot. This really was no 9 to 5 job, but a sales war made for soldiers. Together with a small team, we shared an open office with Bernd and Daniël at the Barbara Strozzilaan. Their work ethic as recruiters and businessmen was just topnotch. h8:15 sharp they clocked in first and h20:15 they were the ones closing the doors after everybody else.”
How did working with Bernd and Daniël benefit you?
“I for sure cannot thank them enough for setting an example by raising the bar as they did. Especially Daniël, who is such a disciplined man, really re-educated me. As a young wild dog walking out the classrooms, I was already streetwise, able to sell anything, but I needed the grid in this environment due to the rhythm, structure, and mindset it gave me.
These days were so demanding, up until a point my family openly started questioning if I was the right man for such a high level job. Now I know that I need this kind of pressure to shape myself, as a raw uncut diamond into one of a kind. My biggest insight is that once I get too comfortable, I stop learning in terms of personal growth.
Besides, the life of a recruiter is looking in the mirror all day long. This can be very confronting due to the constant rejection, but you must not blame anyone or anything else but yourself. In the end, that is how you learn, progress and finally succeed.”
Someone you trained probably knows this very well. Melanie, can you relate with Sanders words?
“Yes, I joined Vibe in 2016 and I have personally matured along with the organization in such a brief amount of time. Over the years we got more facilities, flexibility, and space to breath. When I started 5 years ago, due to the startup-mentality, you got thrown into the deep with a market that didn’t even exist. For the ones who start now, the foundation is mostly already built, and you can work with a network, the inside knowledge and all the data that are 10 years in the making. So nowadays it’s more about the legacy you are working on than building something from scratch.
However, this doesn’t mean you can sit back. The market still demands a lot of authenticity while working as a sales consultant. In the end, everyone at Vibe works in the people business. Both clients and candidates are in direct contact with you as a person, not Spilberg as a brand. Making a deal is only possible if you are sincere and have the right intentions when investing in relationships.”
So, what’s your biggest takeaway of vibing 5 years as a sales consultant?
“I think creativity should not be underestimated, but you got to find your own way in this. Don’t forget you have to stand out of 1.000+ other messages. My personal approach is to bond by asking personal questions and communicating clearly to client or candidate: “I will stand next to you, listen carefully to what you want. You are in control, and I try to steer things in the right direction for you.”
This way, I always focus on the person instead of the job offer, by asking questions based on the research I did on the person’s background. Let it be very clear that we are no recruiters pushing resumes. Instead, we really give our all for the best advice and guidance throughout the process.”
You also followed up Sander Blankendaal when he moved to Germany for his new adventure. What impact did he make on your career?
“Sander gave me the push in the direction of management. He saw a manager in me before I had even envisioned myself leading a team, but I trusted his intuition and judgment. His guidance has brought me to where I am now, running my own business built from scratch. I can assure you that management has absolutely nothing to do with staffing. It requires different soft skills, like how you transfer knowledge, how you read people, how you can inspire, motivate, and guide others to success.
You see, it’s a chain: it goes from Sander to me, and from me to the team, and so on. Therefore, I try to make an impact on my team and get the best out of everyone. It’s heartwarming to see Vibers in their 20’s grow as a person, becoming more professional, more serious, and more mature as a person. This is visible in their attitude, body language, and the amount of responsibility they can carry over time.”
So, how do you see us Vibers creating the future?
“If we stay strict at the gate and guarantee the quality of our consultants, we can outgrow any competition and become the largest everywhere. Our vision, strategy and approach are just that dominant. However, we stay aware of the fact that growth can make us overlook things, making us lose focus on what it really is about: our Vibers.
If the employees are happy, we can continue to grow. Therefore, we must keep focusing on what the Vibers want, keep evaluating, and be approachable. Especially now we sail our own course with a clear authentical and strategical vision. In terms of growth, the possibilities seem endless since we can also count on the expertise of different departments like L&D and Marketing.”
Ben Frison, is there anything you can add to this?
“Let me first confirm the importance of the right professionals taking ownership over their specific tasks. Of course, this is what we promise our clients, but within Vibe it’s as crucial. Back in April 2017, I started working for Spilberg in Antwerp, Belgium in a small Workspace kind of office with only two persons on Contract. In 5 months, we moved to our current location at the Graanmarkt and brought in even more hirers who turned out to stagnate the overall growth of our team. This was due to our inability to refresh and say goodbye at the time it was needed. In the end, hirers who can’t meet the expectations or don’t bring their A-game just slow down the progress.
This shows how hard and how crucial it is to get the right people on board. Of course, our story is superb, we have a super cool office with great people, but if it weren’t for TA, most of us wouldn’t be here, and new hirers wouldn’t come. You can say that Vibe Group as a company, or Spilberg as a brand, with all its values and culture, mean nothing without the Vibers.”
You know how to win the people for you, don’t you Ben. Now you’re at it, can you shine your light on what you think is going to be crucial for the next 10 years?
“I think we must not lose sight of personal associations, even though we are growing. We should not underestimate that in our business, ‘marketing, visibility, and the way the market perceives us’ are key. Therefore, we must be really present in those communities, organizing events, being present with banners at online events, or do sponsorships.
Everything we communicate should be from a human point of view. So, no formalities or static impression. Also, no exaggerations, but stay grounded, cozily humane, and offer added value. It remains a people business, and we must not lose sight of the fact that those candidates or clients want to speak to a human being. Instead of Spilberg, he or she wants to talk to a Sander or a Melanie, because then it gets and remains personal.”
Sander and Melanie, any comment on Ben?
“No, Ben is totally right, as always.”
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