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Janine Feddes, Operations Manager at Unica Building Services in Zwolle:

“A diverse team creates added value”

“Everyone has a different perspective on issues within an organisation. A diverse workforce and team composition create new perspectives. Employees complement each other and create added value.” We’re talking to 41-year-old Janine Feddes. She has been Operations Manager at Unica Building Services in Zwolle for two years and she’s also a member of the management team in Zwolle. An impression of a conversation with a very enthusiastic Janine on her experience of working at Unica.

“My work is very diverse and I primarily act as the link between our employees,” Janine begins. She has lived in Overijssel’s beautiful capital city for many years, with her partner Gert-Jan and their daughters Eloise, aged 6, and Anna, aged 4. Janine completed a higher vocational education degree in Facility Services as well as a degree in Business Administration with a specialisation in Production & Service Management at the University of Groningen. She then spent ten years as a manager leading technical departments in the telecoms sector, including at the Ziggo Security Operations Centre. “The seed was planted during that time,” she says with a smile. “I optimised processes, set up projects and discovered that what I like best is managing and inspiring others. My current role combines all these elements. And that’s why I enjoy it so much.”

I truly believe in diversity and I want the other units to be able to experience the same dynamics that I do.

“My work is very diverse and I primarily act as the link between our employees,” Janine begins. She has lived in Overijssel’s beautiful capital city for many years, with her partner Gert-Jan and their daughters Eloise, aged 6, and Anna, aged 4. Janine completed a higher vocational education degree in Facility Services as well as a degree in Business Administration with a specialisation in Production & Service Management at the University of Groningen. She then spent ten years as a manager leading technical departments in the telecoms sector, including at the Ziggo Security Operations Centre. “The seed was planted during that time,” she says with a smile. “I optimised processes, set up projects and discovered that what I like best is managing and inspiring others. My current role combines all these elements. And that’s why I enjoy it so much.”

An exciting role

Janine finds her role as Operations Manager very exciting. She is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Zwolle branch, which has 130 employees. She is operational manager for the advice & inspection, reception, warehouse, planning, invoicing/administration and central contract input departments. She is also responsible for recruitment, human resources, Quality, Health, Safety & Environment (QHSE) and facility services. How did she end up working at Unica? “Around two years ago, a former colleague told me that she knew someone who worked at a great company, Unica. I thought to myself: ‘A cup of coffee can’t do any harm.’ So I had a chat with Branch Manager Ivo Olde Meule. We looked at my background, my work experience and the requirements at Unica Building Services in Zwolle. Ivo had a lot on his plate. I took on some of his duties and was asked to focus on some other issues as well. I was given a clear mission to ensure that the employees are at the heart of our organisation.”

Close to the work floor

How did Janine approach this? “In the first couple of months, I spent time in various departments. I kept my eyes and ears open all the time. I also shadowed employees in various disciplines, from engineers to inspectors. I visited other branches too, to see how people worked there. All to facilitate the best possible performance and to start a dialogue. The collaboration and getting to know employees really appeals to me. The MT meets weekly. We have fun and we give each other constructive criticism. Everyone has their own area of expertise. My background in business administration influences the way I look at the organisation, structures, processes and our employees. That makes it easy for me to ask questions like: what’s happening on the work floor? Why do we do this in a particular way? Or what needs to change? Without getting into a technical discussion. I think that’s also the added value that I bring. One specific initiative is the fact that we have moved closer to the work floor. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, we organised breakfast sessions with the MT, for example. During these sessions, we asked the question: what can the MT do differently? The answers showed that we needed to be more visible at work. So that’s what we did. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has meant that we have had to find different ways of working and a lot of things are being done online at the moment. But our engagement is appreciated and employees feel heard.”

Achieving results

Janine can look back on a period during which successful results were achieved by working together. “Since I joined the company, there is more connection and engagement with employees. We took a close look at the organisation, for example, and decided to focus on fit to position. So: is the right person doing the right job? I try to bring out the best in everyone by giving people a chance to talk to each other. I led the project to make operational managers responsible for absenteeism and employee performance. Thanks in part to an increased focus and our approach, absenteeism has decreased. That’s a great result for such a large branch.” She continues enthusiastically: “My role means that I can get stuck into things, put matters on the agenda and create new perspectives and new initiatives. I set up and managed the project to optimise the logistics process, the central warehouse and the outdoor site in Zwolle, for example. Six units worked together to create an advisory plan which was presented recently. Sustainability has also been addressed, through waste separation, and the central invoicing process for six branches was standardised further and embedded. I get a lot of energy from involving employees in everything and getting them motivated.”

Achieving results

In addition to her regular activities, Janine is involved in the diversity platform Unique, through which Unica is working towards a more diverse workforce, so that the company continues to reflect society as a whole. Gender diversity through attracting and including women at Unica is the first priority for this platform. Janine: “It contributes to making our organisation attractive to both men and women. I am a mentor myself, and I support female employees at Unica. The focus is on (career) challenges that women face, both at Unica and beyond. Personally, at Unica I am given all the trust and opportunities I need to take things on and carry out my work. I truly believe in diversity and I want the other units to be able to experience the same dynamics that I do in Zwolle.”