Advent Calendar Doors 22 to 24: final stops at Amsterdam, Buenos Aires and the North Pole!

Life is too short to ever stop reading, learning and exchanging opinions and ideas. While most of us are activating our out-of-office responses and “driving home”, let us say good-bye to this exciting year with final wise words from Chris at NN Group in Amsterdam, Sarah from Avature in Buenos Aires and one S. Claus in Finland.

Enjoy some insightful reflection about “favorite mistakes”, and a preview at what HR experts from 14 different countries have up their sleeves for 2016!

-Julian & the APOLLO blog team in Berlin and Stockholm

AdCal final

Door 22: Chris’ global rebranding and the pursuit of getting everyone on board


Who: Chris Kersbergen

Role: Global Head of Employee Experience at NN Group

Where: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Question 1: What was your favorite mistake this year? The one you learned the most from.

We’ve been going through a major rebranding from ING to NN in all our international markets early this year. Our intent was to make the transformation of the brand go hand in hand with a shift in culture and behaviours. Sitting in the Branding team we’ve worked hard – with our leaders, Comms and HR – to make sure all employees were well aware of the change, and also how the new values and brand promise would impact culture and mind-set.

We came a long way. Yet in hindsight I guess it was a bit too optimistic to assume that every function would automatically start to permeate the new brand vision into everything they do from there on. Perhaps didn’t immediately see how they could contribute to living the brand. Which reminded me of a great quote I picked up at the Stanford design school last year: “Where you stand, depends on where you sit”.

So I’ve learned you really have to put yourself in other people’s  shoes if you want to join forces. As a result I actually was fortunate enough to change my own role – and I moved over from Branding to HR, where I’m now working hands-on with my new HR friends on activating our brand vision more explicitly through our people and culture. Great learning curve for myself by-the-way…

Question 2: What is your one most ambitious plan for 2016?

With my colleagues I aim to give the NN employee experience a more specific signature. To inspire and stimulate our leaders and employees to really bring our global brand promise ‘you matter’ to live in everything we do. The way we might influence this is through more conscious employer branding and recruitment, adding a real signature to on-boarding and learning and development in the company and rethinking many of our HR practices.

My second ambition is to publish an English article about ‘brand culture’ –connecting people and brands – in a relevant international business publication. With two companions I finished a book on this topic this Summer, but it’s in Dutch. I’d love to be able to share the essence of our story with my international friends. 🙂

Get in touch with Chris on LinkedIn.

Door 23: Sarah realizing that job descriptions don’t do the job


Who: Sarah Bengochea

Role: Senior Marketing Analyst at Avature

Where: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Question 1: What was your favorite mistake this year? The one you learned the most from.

Assuming that a job description is sufficient to excite a candidate about a job. In recruiting we don’t see jobs, we sell careers. We sell a potentially awesome future. You need to know how to sell a job and an organisation, not a list of requirements.

Question 2: Talking about courage and taking risks in employer branding: What is the one thing that companies should dare to do more in 2016?

You only learn by doing…. so if to learn is to take a risk I would say it’s worth it. If everything was tried and tested there wouldn’t be innovation or change in the world. Without it we would stay the same! So for me there is no risk per say, risk only exists when you’re expecting different results but doing the same thing over and over.

The best organisations out there are courageous, they take a hard look at themselves and find ways to improve, tweak or change their processes, they expect different results and so try different things. So the one thing that all companies should do is, take a risk, learn something new, try a different approach and see what happens.

If I had to choose one thing – oranizations need to find a way to understand how people view them. Because, what they think is their employer brand maybe be very different from what exists in the minds of their consumers, employees and future employees.

Get in touch with Sarah on LinkedIn.

Door 24: Santa Claus about what next year has in store for us!


Who: Goes by many names

Role: Head of Global Employee Happiness, Compliance and Young Talent Development, Winter Season, at Earth

Where: Finland HQ, near North Pole

Question 1: What was your favorite mistake this year? The one you learned the most from.

I didn’t pay enough attention to what our goblins said about our management on GlassChimney dot com! These little helpers have to deliver presents to 6,100 houses per second. Any motivational low immediately impacts logistics, customer satisfaction, costs, consumer brand, employer brand and employee turnover. But we have it under control now. With the right data, benchmarks and arguments, we could convince top management that people matter for business success, and thus, employer branding has priority.

So now we have partnered with our good friends at Potentialpark to understand talent, and that includes blue-collar helpers, goblin graduates as well as experienced reindeer.

Question 2: What is your one most ambitious plan for 2016?


Technology is a topic for us, too. Need I say more? Have you been nice this year? Well let me just say one word: drones. Yes, drones. The next big thing in consumer logistics. If amazon can do it, we can do it. Think about it over New Year and enjoy your ho – ho – holidays!

Get in touch with Santa on LinkedIn.

Next: data diving from new surveys, and country-by-country investigations, from January…

…so if you like to hear more stories, join us here, on the APOLLO blog. Our motto is Applying Online & Loving It, and that’s why we like to share data, best practices and opinions on employer branding and the candidate experience!

Read doors 1 to 3

Read doors 4 to 6

Read doors 7 to 9

Read doors 10 to 12

Read doors 13 to 15

Read doors 16 to 18

Read doors 19 to 21

7 thoughts on “Advent Calendar Doors 22 to 24: final stops at Amsterdam, Buenos Aires and the North Pole!

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