Eylem, fire away: what exactly does your job entail?
My job actually consists of 2 parts. First of all, I manage the agenda of Loet, our director, and ensure that his planning is clear and feasible. By also taking care of all sorts of peripheral issues for him, he can concentrate on the content of his work without being disturbed. I also carry out various MindLabs-wide tasks, from organizing meetings to processing requests that come in via the website or telephone. Organizing events was on the back burner for a long time because of Covid-19, unfortunately. But I have high hopes for 2022...!
How long have you been doing this work?
At MindLabs I've been doing this for about 2.5 years. But organizing and unburdening has been part of my job for 15 years. I also work as a policy officer for the municipality of Tilburg.
Why is your position within MindLabs so important?
MindLabs is growing incredibly fast. So it's not feasible for Loet to do all the preparations, research and agenda management himself. I have very short lines of communication with him and know exactly what is and isn't possible. And for the growth of the ecosystem it is, of course, very important to have well-managed presentations, a working documentation system and a point of contact for questions.
What makes you so suited to this work?
Arranging and organizing is my thing. It's in my blood, I think. I switch quickly and am flexible. And there is commitment. I work for MindLabs two days a week, but I am always willing to do something for the ecosystem at other times as well. Because Loet's schedule can change every day; his planning doesn't really wait until it's my 'MindLabs day' again. We are a small club, so you are more willing to go that extra mile.
Your job sounds very serious. Is there also room for fun and sociability?
Definitely! I not only have a lot of fun doing my work, but also with the people around me. I have great conversations with Loet and Petra, for example. And a lot of contact via Whatsapp. Although the name of that app group - 'Planning MindLabs' - sounds very serious... No, when I app Loet, I know that I'll get a response very quickly. And I always call him back as soon as possible, even if it's late at night. After all, we take this work very seriously. But we also have a good time together. We know that we can rely on each other.
How did you end up working for an organization like MindLabs?
I know Loet from my work for the municipality. When I heard that he was looking for an assistant for a few days a week, I asked him whether that would be something for me. The dynamic work and the need to change gear quickly seemed interesting. I did think for a while about the subjects MindLabs deals with; I'm not really at home in the world of technology and AI. But the work as a management assistant was a piece of cake for me. I already knew that inside and out. And knowledge of AI is not highly important for the performance of my tasks. I am interested and involved and I like to learn about subjects that are unknown to me. So I am already a lot wiser!
But you also know a lot about things that are still in their infancy. Do you like being close to the fire? Or is that just a nice side effect?
Yes, I have information that others don't. That makes my position incredibly interesting. But I'm good at keeping my mouth shut. That's one of the requirements in a position like this.
How do you think your colleagues describe you?
Accessible, quick to react and act and not too shy to carry out simple or difficult tasks. Filing documents, for example, is not necessarily fun or challenging work, but it has to be done. And a good thing too, because we often need old documents. A working system saves time. Then I like it when I am responsible for it myself. Oh, and I always want better. If I have organized something and afterwards I hear that everything went well, that gives me a tremendous boost. Then I know I did my job carefully. But I also like to know when there are points for improvement. Then I can be of even more service to others next time. Basically, I just want to unburden. As long as that is the case, I perform every task gladly.
Do you run your personal calendar physically or analogously?
Totally digital. I don't like paper. The only paper I use is a physical to-do list. But I've had that notebook for years now, because I barely use it. I remember a lot and note almost everything digitally.
We are going to finish. What is next on your list? Are you going to dive into Loet's agenda again? Or first a cup of coffee or something stronger?
No, I'm going to have lunch first. And then there's a meeting with Petra about new, exciting things. Not yet out in the open, so as I said: you won't hear a thing from me. But soon we can probably go public with it. Then it will all become clear.