I had participated in several business courses and assessment events by different companies. Because of that, I expected this one to have a similar fierce sense of competition, where everyone would try to stand out. That was true, in a sense, but the atmosphere at AkzoNobel was totally different. During the two days, we were confronted with several business cases, for which we needed to work together to get positive results. In addition, there were lots of other activities. I especially liked meeting people from different branches of the company.
Of course I had heard of AkzoNobel before, but the company had never been in my top ten of potential employers. Because of my background - I graduated with my MSc in Business Administration - Marketing Management and Research - AkzoNobel had never been an obvious choice. But an acquaintance of mine was already working there and he advised me to sign up for the Masterclass. I’m very grateful to him for that.
The first day was great from the start. We went to the Corporate Office in Amsterdam to meet CEO Ton Büchner. He gave a very inspired and personal speech on the choices he had made, and gave us some advice for the future. I immediately thought he was such an inspiring man. Someone you would really go the extra mile for.
The business case was on a technical subject. Not exactly my specialty, but that just made it more exciting to brainstorm about, especially since the input of my own particular knowledge was valued and appreciated. It was really interesting, particularly with working on teams with such diverse backgrounds - there were engineers, chemists, economists and process engineers, from a multitude of nationalities. The official language was English, just as it is within AkzoNobel in general.
For lunch, we were joined by several AkzoNobel employees. I was able to talk to several people in Marketing about their job. That evening we did a cooking workshop with both junior employees and senior managers. We kept switching seats during the cooking and the dinner itself, in order to meet as many people as possible. I specifically remember Jan Strik, HR Director for the Netherlands, and Conrad Keijzer from the Board of Management. It was great to talk about the company with these top executives. They were genuinely interested in my background and ideas. In other business courses, you’ll usually see a top executive stopping by, but they won’t cook and eat dinner with you.
The next day, we went to the production site in Sassenheim. We were given a tour of the plant and then worked on another marketing business case. I noticed that the HR department was making sure everyone talked to various people during lunch. I was introduced to the marketing managers of Decorative Paints and Automotive & Aerospace Coatings, who gave me a good overview of the kind of work they do there.
After two days I was totally convinced. What a great company, and with such a welcoming atmosphere! They mostly wanted to show how everyone at AkzoNobel works together to achieve results, while respecting everyone’s added value. This collaborative environment made me feel right at home.
All the participants were very keen to get something out of the Masterclass, and so was AkzoNobel. And it worked!
Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to start working at AkzoNobel, and I love my job as a Market Support Specialist. I’m very grateful to the acquaintance who tipped me off about the Masterclass, and now I’m doing the same for you. If you’re smart, ambitious and full of ideas about your field, take your chances with AkzoNobel. You won’t regret it - the Masterclass is a very inspiring experience!