How Wendy Aendekerk leverages her passion for change to build a culture of purpose at Ordina
‘Every now and then, I see how people surprise themselves with the things that they do. It is in those moments that I feel like I’m witnessing potential unlocking before my eyes. Like little pearls that really make my day.’
Wendy Aendekerk is HR Director at consulting and IT provider Ordina. Despite the strategic and high level nature of her day to day schedule, she mentions the human side of her work when we ask her what makes her forget to eat.
‘I forget to eat when I’m coaching high potentials or when I’m developing a leadership program and think about how I could activate people. The question that runs through my head constantly is how can I instill a sense of confidence in people in such a way that they start to see what they’re able to do? My purpose is about helping others to become bigger than they thought they could be.’
When we learned about Wendy’s work at Ordina, and how she recognizes the value of purpose on an individual and company level, we reached out to have a chat. Our conversation shows how Wendy’s passions align with her work to inspire personal growth and embed purpose in Ordina’s company culture.
Unlocking people’s potential through change
Wendy looks back on 20 years of experience in strategic change management.
‘Facilitating change and growth is something that brings me more joy every day. I started my career as a consultant, implementing models and strategies. It was around the time of my third career switch that I developed this insight that strategic models in itself wouldn’t deliver results. Strategy involves change. I noticed that the differentiator between successful and unsuccessful strategies, was whether people were willing to drive that change.
I found that people will only change when the presented strategy feels like an opportunity for individual growth. So if the strategy you envision only materializes in a PowerPoint deck or in your annual report, people will likely not move along with you. In contrast, when you let your people contribute to the change that every new strategy requires, you’ll see them thrive! In every change, there is opportunity for growth.’
A time of opportunity
If we consider change to be a big opportunity for personal growth and finding purpose, there’s been a lot of opportunities lately. Have you seen a lot of people making growth leaps?
‘Yes, I have been amazed by the ingenuity and flexibility of Ordina people during the recent changes in their working environments. That’s an achievement in itself if you take into account that all of a sudden the kids are at home, your parents might be sick, and you still have to deliver on your KPI’s.’
Wendy describes that when it comes to mindset, growth can happen in an instant. ‘Let’s finally get rid of the crazy idea that growth is about climbing the corporate ladder or claiming a managerial position. Let’s accept that it’s about being flexible, about being able to adapt. Growth is about going flat on your face without becoming insecure, about getting to know your capabilities and finally being mild to, and coming at peace with yourself, while maintaining a reflective attitude.’
Besides a change in mindset, it usually takes time to grow and master a skill, Wendy agrees. ‘Our society is currently geared towards the instant gratification of our needs. Most of the things we want to do, we can do in one day. Like watching a complete season of a new series with just the push of a button. This is how an entire generation of millennials has been raised to become impatient. If you approach learning with this amount of impatience, and only enjoy the results, it will be a painful experience. It becomes fun when you enjoy learning in itself though, and accept that it takes some time.’
As much as we would like some aspects of it, we do not live in the matrix and learning takes time.
Being mild to yourself
As you stated that having comfort in learning requires a certain extent of mildness towards oneself, would you be comfortable with sharing a recent experience in which you had to be mild to yourself?
‘I try to be mild every day’ Wendy says smiling, continuing with a recent example. ‘When I told the first three colleagues about my plans to leverage purpose in my HR strategy, Their first response was Wendy, wouldn’t it be much better to organize better employee benefits?
It’s these kinds of moments where I kind of feel like the impatient millennial; when I’m frustrated about not being able to move the needle. My internal response when people don’t understand me the first or second time is okay, I’ll do it myself then. In those cases I really have to motivate and be mild to myself to just keep going for it.
Luckily it didn’t take long for me to find some like minded colleagues in this case, and I was able to press on with my plans. In the end I feel that the level of my role comes with a leadership obligation. This entails daring to do things differently, but also to pick your battles and show patience when a certain idea doesn’t land in fertile grounds.’
Purpose at Ordina
Wendy started Ordina’s purpose journey by getting an understanding of what it was that people wanted to work at Ordina for. An added challenge in answering this question was that most of the people are seconded to customers, sometimes for years in a row.
‘Admittedly, I found that sometimes I was a bit disappointed by the answers I got when asking people why they work for Ordina. One person felt he had a great job as he helped to beat the crime rate by making this awesome app for the government. But why via Ordina? He couldn’t really answer that question.
So I considered whether it could really be just the security of the monthly salary? But in the extremely competitive market with loads of opportunities that we operate in, I just didn’t buy that. And when I started asking around more, I heard different stories indeed.
Stories about Ordina being a place with a friendly touch, where people feel seen, and are being surrounded by the best colleagues. People, growth, development and network are social aspects of our purpose. There is also an environmental aspect, as we have 1500 people driving around the country. By 2022, they will all be driving electrically. Another step forward is our recent decision to join the 1% pledge. With these social and environmental pillars, we’ve framed our purpose. Now, it’s time to further chart this terrain and work towards a big hairy goal.
As change happens through experience, I’m looking to involve as many Ordina colleagues as possible on our purpose. I see major opportunities for colleagues to work on purposeful assignments. Our foundations are built on knowledge, so education will become a theme that colleagues can engage in.
My vision is to facilitate our people in using their personal skill sets, to contribute to a cause they care about. So instead of motivating employees to clean up beaches, I would like to empower them to program an app through which an entire city will come together to clean that same beach.
To move to where I want to be we need to create a cadency, rituals, good examples (from the top of the organisation). And we need to empower our people with the right space and tooling to act. I think if we can facilitate that, then purpose will become a self sustaining energy source within the company and we can really help our people to fulfill their personal purpose.’ At GoodUp, we will keep a close eye on Wendy’s promising purposeful progress.