Corstiaan Smit (28) has studied the bachelor business administration and master financial management at the VU Amsterdam. Next to this, he was appointed as commercial officer of the 2010/2011 board at Aureus. This position brought him into contact with different companies, such as his current employer PostNL. According to Corstiaan it is important to know people at the company beforehand in order to determine if you will fit within the company’s culture. In this edition of Avenir he will share his experiences and career tips with us.
Start your career early
Regarding career advice, Corstiaan has plenty to offer: “Participate in extracurricular activities: become an active member of a study association, do voluntary work, play sports or go travel.” Those are the things that helped Corstiaan to gain practical skills and develop a broader mindset. A few years ago, he started doing a traineeship at PostNL. All the trainees had undertaken different activities besides their studies. Why? You need experience in managing people, otherwise you will simply not keep up. The traineeship at PostNL takes three years during which you will work within different positions. Starting as a team leader of 25 postmen, he saw this traditional profession change throughout the years. Thereafter, Corstiaan was appointed as a branch manager where he had to guide three team leaders. In this way, he was responsible for 150 employees of whom he was the youngest. Nevertheless, thanks to his experience gained with his extra curricular experiences he knew what is was like being in full charge. Currently, Corstiaan is working as a project manager of ‘innovation in outsourcing’ at PostNL. One of these projects is the delivery of orchids directly from the grower to the consumer.
Continue to grow
The second career tip is valuable during your working existence, namely: continue to broaden your horizon. Always look beyond your function and undertake activities to get to know the company. Last year, Corstiaan won the PostNL innovation battle and ever since he has been an advocate of pitching your ideas as great ideas will be given the opportunity to be executed. The company finds itself in a dynamic and evolving business as the traditional letter is slowly disappearing at a decreasing rate of ten percent a year. Therefore, the company tries to find new opportunities and is open to innovation. “PostNL is always trying to put the right people at the right jobs.” According to Corstiaan, due to the size of the company there is always a position for you to use your talent to the fullest. His believe is that this is an effective and valuable approach to look at talent.
Glimpse of the future
When asking Corstiaan about his own glimpse of the future, he finds it difficult to predict: The first couple of years after graduation, you take big steps forward. However, these steps become smaller once you get closer to the top. The future will become more data and IT driven so innovations will become more technology based than ever. I would love to combine my experience in innovation and management, perhaps within my own company or as a director in a large corporate such as PostNL. However, these steps become smaller once you get closer to the top.