Koen van Vugt - Global Marketing & Communications Specialist
Inside Interfood: A Conversation with Koen van Vugt, Global Marketing & Communications Specialist.
Hi Koen, can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Koen van Vugt, I’m 34 years old and I am a Global Marketing & Communications Specialist at Interfood Global in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. I grew up in Oisterwijk, a small but well-known city in the south of Holland, in between bigger cities like Eindhoven, Breda, Tilburg and Den Bosch. Oisterwijk really is my hometown, it always has been, and it always will. Living together with my girlfriend Renée and our 6-year-old daughter Keet and our 2-year-old son Bert, we enjoy everything the area has to offer. From the beautiful countryside with its forests and fens to the many lovely terraces, restaurants and playgrounds.
My journey at Interfood started approx. 5 years ago, when I was the second member of the MarCom team. Nowadays, our team consists of three members and we’re no longer the MarCom team, but the Global Communications team. I've seen considerable growth for me, our team, and Interfood.
In my spare time, I spend most hours with my family and friends. I love doing sports such as football (indoor & outdoor) and tennis. And during wintertime you will find me on the slopes somewhere in Austria, because skiing is also something I love to do.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up at Interfood?
In 2010 I completed my Bachelor of Communication at Fontys University of Applied Sciences in Tilburg. A broad-based study in which you will learn all the in's and out's about (corporate, internal and external) communication, marketing, sponsorship, and press information.
After college, I traveled around Australia and Thailand, and not much later I started my first jobs. After working in different roles in different industries, I made my real start in my professional career by joining an IT consultancy in 2013. Here I was single-handedly responsible for global communications for 5 years.
In 2018, I engaged a recruitment agency to look out for a new employer and they soon connected me with Interfood. After some engaging conversations with different people from the organization, I started in August.
What motivates you to come to work every day, and how does your role contribute to the company's success?
That would be the genuine passion I have for helping others and making a positive impact on their lives. I find immense satisfaction in sharing my knowledge and experience, as well as crafting tailored communications that truly resonate with people. Being service-oriented, I take pride in going above and beyond to ensure that others feel heard, understood, and supported. Knowing that my efforts contribute to someone else's happiness and success is an incredibly rewarding experience, and it keeps me inspired and motivated to continue my work every day. The same goes for my contribution to the company’s success. Supporting the company to reach shared goals, create awareness and engagement, and to communicate the right message, to the right audience, at the right time is where we create the most value. Internal communication, corporate branding, employer branding, labor market communication, social media, and events, we play a crucial role in all of these aspects.
How do you approach challenges and/or setbacks in your work, and what drives you to persist through difficult times?
When facing challenges and setbacks in my work, I tend to approach them with a growth mindset, viewing them as opportunities to learn and improve. I believe that every challenge offers valuable insights that can help me refine my skills and become more effective in my role. To overcome obstacles, I try to break down problems into smaller, manageable tasks and leverage my knowledge and experience to find the most suitable solutions.
What drives me to persist through difficult times is my strong sense of purpose and commitment to helping others. Knowing that my work has a positive impact on people's lives provides me with the motivation and resilience to push through any difficulties. Additionally, I draw strength from my support network, which includes colleagues, mentors, and friends, who encourage and guide me along the way. I believe that every conquered challenge better prepares me for the next one.
Can you talk about a project or initiative that you were particularly passionate about, and what about it resonated with you?
There are many projects or initiatives that I am or was passionate about. Last year for example, in 2022, we designed a new corporate website for Interfood Group, which was one of the results of Interfood’s re-branding project we completed a year before. To be able to deep dive in the company and the brand story, and to work with important stakeholders and partners to come up with a renewed purpose, mission, vision and brand story for Interfood was an amazing opportunity and a great learning experience.
Another thing I’m very passionate about in my work is organizing our exhibitions and other events. Working with external partners and various colleagues, the creative and organizational aspect of events really gets me energized. In 2022, I went to the Gulfood Manufacturing in Dubai for the first time and being responsible for the Interfood stand was both exciting and a lot of fun. And to hear from colleagues and visitors that our stand is one of the most beautiful and professional stands around is very satisfying and rewarding.
How does Interfood support your personal and professional goals, and how have you grown since joining the team?
I am a creative jack-of-all-trades and Interfood helps me develop specific skills and specialisms. I attend NIMA (Netherlands Institute for Marketing) courses and training to keep abreast of developments and expand my knowledge.
And furthermore, I learn a lot from colleagues around me. For example, in the field of structure, priorities and project management. For this, I can consult various colleagues. But I have also made great strides in the field of graphic design in recent years. This would not have been possible without the knowledge and skills of my colleague Ans.
In summary, Interfood values personal and professional development and has a strategic focus on their learning program. This means growth per individual, per team, and as a company. And that shows!
What kind of work-life balance do you maintain while working for Interfood, and how does the company support your well-being?
My work-life balance is pretty balanced I must say. We can start working between 7 and 9 so it’s up to you until what time you work every day. Most days I’m able to have dinner with my family back home, sometimes I’m a bit later. It goes both ways really.
Interfood is immensely supporting the well-being of its employees. The company offers a free delicious and healthy lunch every day. Most of the time you will find (healthy) snacks in the office. And maybe even more importantly, we have a lot of opportunities to engage in sports and exercise. In the gym downstairs, during indoor soccer on Tuesdays, at one the sport events we attend or by providing branded sport outfits to encourage us to play sports and exercise.
How does Interfood foster a sense of community and teamwork among its employees, and what role do you play in this?
First of all, by setting clear corporate values for everyone. Teamwork, Commitment, Professionalism, Continuous Improvement, and Responsible Leadership. This way we all know what is expected from us in terms of concrete behavior. What is helping behavior? And what is not helping behavior? Although most-likely it is with the best intention.
But also by organizing all kinds of events for us. Events per team or department, a yearly company event, Christmas markets and dinners, and of course many different sport events such as a tennis tournament, mud or obstacle runs, or the skiing trip that was organized a few months ago.
As I’m very passionate about sports I also play a role in this. I’m organizing the weekly indoor football match on Tuesday evening and I’m also responsible for our attendance at the yearly Zuivelcup (Dairy Cup). This is a football tournament somewhere in Holland, with only dairy companies attending. Fun fact: we have won the last 3 editions in a row, so for upcoming edition our goal is to bring home the cup once again.
What sets Interfood apart from other companies you've worked for, and how has this impacted your career development?
Interfood is a huge player in the global dairy industry and therefore sometimes it feels like the possibilities are endless. In number of employees Interfood is not that big, but on a global stage, no one can ignore us. We grow, we take responsibility, we innovate, and we’re trying to lead by example. In a fast-paced industry like dairy, no day is the same and developments follow each other in rapid succession. The same goes for a career in marketing or communications, you have to be constantly on top of things so as not to miss any developments that make you lag behind.
What would you say to potential Interfood team members?
Are you looking for a company that puts its employees first? A company that values innovation and entrepreneurship? An international player with employees from many different backgrounds, nationalities and cultures?
Interfood is a place where you can develop into an expert in your field. Together with other experts and industry peers, we work towards a sustainable future for dairy and food in general. A future for us and for future generations. Together for better.
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