Ernes Zelen - Finance Director

The variety of my work is the best part of my job.

Hi Ernes, could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Ernes Zelen, I’m 42 years old and I am a Finance Director responsible for the finance team at Interfood BV in The Netherlands.

I am married and have 2 daughters of 12 and 10 years old. In my spare time I support and coach my daughters in the sport they are passionate about, handball. I am also an organizer of events for children in Egchel, the village I live in, usually around celebration days like King’s Day, Easter, Sint-Maarten and Sinterklaas. Furthermore, I like to cycle and run, and you can find me in our office gym almost every week.

What was your motivation to start a job at Interfood?
In December 2014, after working for 15 years in audit and consultancy roles at PwC, a global professional services firm, I got the opportunity at Interfood to apply my finance and treasury expertise in practice. In my role as Group Treasurer at Interfood Holding I could build our treasury function from scratch, improve our global banking structure and set up a compliance framework. My biggest motivation was to truly become part of a company’s success story rather than advising or auditing companies from ‘the other side of the table’. In May 2018, I made a shift to a new role as Finance Director for Interfood BV and I’m still very happy I joined Interfood back in 2014.

Ernes Zelen1

What is your favorite thing about Interfood?
Working with passionate colleagues who every day strive to make Interfood the leading player in the global dairy industry. It’s really part of our culture because in one way or the other, all colleagues have some sort of an entrepreneurial spirit and motivation to get the best out of themselves and the business.

What does your average working week look like?
It is not easy to describe such a week as no week is the same or even comparable. Usually the first 2 weeks of the month my focus is mostly on completing the numbers of previous month, as well as reporting these numbers. Whereas the other two weeks I spend my time mostly on running projects in cooperation with various colleagues. Example projects are ‘one EU HUB’, trade flow process improvements, JDE and BI-related projects. Furthermore, I provide my input during the regular meetings with the MT, the BOD and the BU leaders, while spending as much time as possible with coaching and growing the finance team.

What do you like most about your job?
What I like the most about my job is the variety of my work. Solving complex business or finance issues, coaching the team, discussing our strategic agenda for coming years and design and change our organization to be fit for future. No days are the same and working in such a dynamic environment is very challenging. Exactly what I’m looking for in a job.

How about your work-life balance?
I must say that work and private are well-balanced. As mentioned above, after working hours I have enough time for my family, their hobbies and my own hobbies. Altogether I’m really satisfied about the way things currently go concerning my work-life balance.

What can you tell about the development of the Finance team(s)?
A couple of years ago we were working with one big finance team. Nowadays this team consists of specialist teams in the areas such as: financial control, business control, credit control, VAT and invoicing. A diverse and enthusiastic group of approximately 20 people who do their utmost to support the business but also act as the gatekeeper of the company in ensuring that business is done with sufficient risk measures. Topics which are hot on the finance agenda nowadays are data intelligence and robotics process automation.

What is your best memory of your time at Interfood until today?
One memory I will never forget is my first working day. This moment makes clear what steps have been taken in the last 5 years to upgrade and enhance our IT infrastructure. On my first day I received my laptop from the IT employee who asked me to prevent saving PowerPoint presentations on the network to relief the IT servers. He asked me to store my presentations in my personal folder…

What would you say to potential Interfood team members?
Connect with the Interfood family, learn new things and ensure that you are intrinsically motivated to do the job you perform. Interfood is the perfect place to grow your professional career but one thing is key: you have to be the driver.

Ernes Zelen3

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