Column 2 -
18 May 2020 
in HR

Column 2 - "As CHRO I had become a princess"

As a CHRO I had become a princess without being aware of it at the time


And then there is that day, the day you get up and think today is the day… how will he, my CEO, react? What will he say? In the end, the day came faster than I thought, a few weeks before something had happened that was the drop that made my bucket overflow.

On the other hand, I was surprised at how long it had taken me to move from feeling to decision to action. And in all fairness, it was mainly the infamous golden cage. It took me a long time to admit that it is not the cage, but the promise of gold that can make further personal development and new adventures become a future/maybe one day – dream.

“That it took me so long to make the decision was mainly because of the infamous golden cage”

Once I could accept my loss, I just opened the door of the cage and it turned out to be surprisingly simple. And my team? I let them go with love. After 5.5 years I knew that I had given them everything I could, it was time for everyone to stand on their own two feet and for a new CHRO to take them to the next level.

And then there is that other day, that first new day, the day when I finally got to work with Donja, my co-founder, with lots of enthusiasm and energy. A few years ago I hired Donja in my HR team as an upcoming talent, she is now 29 years old, then she had just left school. However, I knew immediately, she is a pearl.

Some senior leaders raised their eyebrows, are you going to start a business with someone almost 20 years younger? Uh, let me think carefully… Hell yes! Not because she is younger, but because she is amazing, one of the best I ever hired. But mainly because we are a very good team.

And so we started in early February, full of enthusiasm and with super cool plans. We had taken a vacation a few months earlier and spent our “vacation” together with 4000 international entrepreneurs at Tony Robbins’ 6-day Business Mastery in AFAS.

Our first working day we worked from 9 am to 11 pm and we were still not tired. The first weeks were a series of super practical mini things, which I hated, and meeting new inspiring people and companies that gave a huge energy boost.

We also worked hard on the development of our product. We spoke to people who might be able to help us further and spent much of our time developing an investor deck. After all, it seemed inevitable that investors were needed.

“All those details, can’t we talk about the big picture?”

My biggest realisation in the first 4 weeks? The fact that as a boardroom director I was secretly super spoiled, I had been a princess without being aware of it at the time. For example, I previously had a PA and an intern and only now I really realised how much time is spent in arranging appointments. Once there was an IT team and a central help desk, now I heard myself say to Donja: What do you mean we need a shared drive? 

The search for a cool modern accountant turned out to be quite a task and my biggest irritation? … the volume of details, can’t we talk about the big picture? … oh and yes that car, hmm I might have been a bit too impulsive to think that I could import a car from Germany myself …

We laughed about it all,  we were super positive.

We had a good plan, a good product and are good team. What the heck could go wrong…?


About the author
On a mission to help entrepreneurs, management teams, hr & marketing professionals to create companies we all love. Both customers & (ex) employees. Here to inspire, energise and support personal leadership (team) transformation and share expertise on how to create great customer and employee experiences that boost (online) popularity, create raving fans and beat the competition. In 2016 Anne was the winner of the CHRO Award of the year in the Netherlands. In 2017 she won the German Stevie Award for best HR Director Germany and in 2018, 2019 and 2020 Anne was responsible for Hunkemöller receiving the Top employer certification in both The Netherlands and Germany. ‍She passionately believes that great leaders power great people. Great people power great companies. Great companies deliver a great customer and employee experience. Everybody deserves a great leader and a great place to work!
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