Annemieke learnt the tricks of the trade as HR Partner at Mercuri Urval, an international HR consulting company. Working on a project basis, she saw the whole range of what the job can hold. This went from strategic workshops for multinationals in the Antwerp harbour to leadership and recruitment advice for tech start-ups. Something was missing, though. “As a consultant, you remain an external advisor and you don’t see the results of where all these new initiatives lead.” So, it was time to take a seat at the other side of the table.

“When you speak of Human Resources, people think of somebody who recruits, who pays the wages and arranges the puzzle of the employees’ holidays. What it actually is, is making plans for the future.” Annemieke is adamant: “HR is not just a support, I see it as a part of the business and I was happy to find that oona does too. My official job title here is People and Organisation Development Manager. It’s a mouthful, but it does cover the load.” 

Being successful and being happy, those are not the same things, you know.

— Annemieke Coveliers, People and Organisation Development Manager

The buzzword, nowadays, is leadership. Not in the sense of being a manager, but as a set of skills that everybody can use to make a team grow. Drawing from the philosophy developed by Dr. Karen Wouters and the Antwerp Management School, Annemieke agrees. And if you want to know, you need to listen first. When you do, you will soon find that it’s indeed about skills, not profiles and Master’s degrees. Being successful and being happy, those are not the same things, you know.”

Werner De Smet is looking forward to have Annemieke on board. “I know it’s a cliché, but that does not make it less true: for quality, you depend on people. The average age of our workforce is around 27. That’s very young, which is only logical if you want to connect with Gen Z and millennials. We always need fresh voices who don’t speak from the boardroom.” 

I heard that Annemieke still feels the startup vibe at oona. I take that as a compliment.

— Werner De Smet, CEO OONA

This also means that most of oona’s employees are at an age when they develop their personal journey, they still have many paths to choose from. “A dedicated manager like Annemieke is the right person in HR to build the structure that we need. I heard that she still feels the startup vibe at oona, even if we have more than 50 people in the team, and I take that as a compliment. Maybe that’s what we are — the eternal startup!”

Annemieke Coveliers started her career at Mercuri Urval in 2013. As an HR business consultant with an additional degree in psychology, she helped small and large organisations to translate strategies into capability needs. She supported in recruiting, retaining and developing talent. The perfect combination of the business world and psychology, as she herself is bound to say.