I have exceeded my own expectations

I have exceeded my own expectations

05/11/2023 - 15:11

Pim de Ridder chose to do a logistics course at NHTV (now BUas) after graduating from havo, and he has the most colourful job he could wish for.
Logistics NL
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I have always wanted to be a Supply Chain Manager, that is what we sometimes say as a joke in the marketing department of BUas. It appeals less to the imagination than working for the fire service. Why did it appeal to you? ‘Logistics is puzzling, and that’s what I like,’ says Pim de Ridder, ‘therefore I opted for a logistics course after havo. Something has to get somewhere, and that has to go well. Sounds simple, and it often isn’t. There’s still a lot to optimise, and that makes the puzzle so much fun!’ 

Feeling what it is like     

In 2017, Pim graduated in Logistics Management, which was still called Logistics & Economics at the time. After that, he attended a master’s programme in Supply Chain Management at Tilburg University. ‘During my studies, I worked as an order picker for Jumbo’s web shop. Experiencing it  physically is a good experience. You have to feel what it’s like when something changes in the  process in the workplace. Only then can you guide the change required to improve logistics processes.’ 

Its own product 

Pim comes from Den Bosch and started a new challenge at Vlisco Netherlands in October 2022. ‘If I had wanted to put out fires, I’d have become a firefighter,’ he laughs, ‘I wanted to get rid of that! I’m rather partial to long-term solutions, and they didn’t work out with my previous employers; at least they were hardly noticeable at any rate. Through a recruiter I was introduced to Vlisco. I had no distinct preference for a company. I wanted to work for a company that makes its own product, and Vlisco makes something very beautiful!’ 

Máxima in a Vlisco outfit 

‘It was quite funny; I’d never heard of the company and suddenly Queen Máxima was in the news wearing a Vlisco outfit in Africa! I find it a very special product; I don’t have a Vlisco outfit yet, but I can have something made. Our product isn’t the outfit, but the fabric. Your order it in yards. You can make something out of it yourself or have a tailor do so. There are no shops in the Netherlands, only an outlet next to our factory in Helmond, and of course there’s a web shop. The physical shops can be found in Africa, that’s where our market is!’ 

Indonesian batik 

‘The company was founded in 1846. For some forty years the canvases have been produced with a machine. Before that time, by hand according to an Indonesian batik technique. We sell the fabrics mostly in Africa, mostly in the Ivory Coast and Togo, and also in Paris and parts of the USA. Especially African women wear them. Some designs have a meaning, for example a fabric with a chick symbolises life. So you convey a message with what you wear. There’s also a pattern very similar to  the design of Michelle Obama’s handbag, which is very popular now.’ 

Literally go to the market 

Pim hasn’t been to Africa yet. As a Supply Planner that’s in the pipeline for him. Perhaps he’ll be there when this Alumni Newsletter is released. ‘We’re working on setting up our processes in a different way, and we’d like to coordinate this with our colleagues in Africa. They’re closest to our end users, so we have to adapt. I literally go the market,’ laughs Pim, ‘I can see myself walking among all those colourful canvases, but it might just be a boring shopping street!’ 

No numbers    

‘I myself don’t really care about fashion and design. I’ve always said that you don’t have to know anything about the product to be able to set up the logistics properly. But now I’d really like to know more about it. I tend to think less in terms of numbers now, as we’re used to doing in logistics. You need those numbers in the system, but funnily enough, I have much more of a feeling with them now. That bit of context helps you in your job. Our product is not about nuts and bolts. Vlisco is far  more colourful; that identity and creativity are reflected in the working environment.’ 

Starting to doubt  

How do you look back so far? Did you expect to be doing all this? ‘Well, no, I’ve exceeded my own expectations,’ Pim says proudly. ‘Especially with that academic master’s degree! When I graduated, BUas didn’t offer a Master Supply Chain Management yet. I don’t know whether I would have chosen that one. What I do know is that BUas helped me, by giving direction, I mean. I myself had never considered doing a master’s and in my third year I started to doubt. In a positive sense, that is, I started to seriously consider it.’ 

Not easy    

How did it happen? ‘Through a former NHTV student who was my external supervisor at the time. We talked about it a lot together and he got me thinking. It wasn’t easy. I had to do a pre-master’s track and then I still had to master a certain level of English proficiency. I attended the Academic Writing in English course at the Language Center of Tilburg University for six months. After that, I attended the master’s programme and I continue to learn. I’m planning to do a French course for Vlisco, and who knows what else lies ahead for me. For now, I’ve found my place!’ 


Interview by Maaike Dukker - 't Hart