In our last interview, we took a peek behind the scenes of our content manager Lotte. This time, we stick around in our Rotterdam office and turn the spotlights towards Head of Product Delivery and master of multitasking Roelant. His daily to-do lists are always heavily packed, but he always manages to squeeze in some well deserved me-time with a warm cup of coffee. Continue reading to find out more about Roelant!
First of all: who are you and what is your function within Lizard Global?
"I'm Roelant van der Heijde and I'm the Head of Product Delivery at Lizard Global, which means that I'm ultimately responsible for the quality of the products and services we deliver. I am a Product Owner myself, but also manage our enthusiastic and highly qualified team of Product Owners both in Kuala Lumpur and The Netherlands. In addition to my role as Head of Product Delivery, I also act as a "right-hand-man" to our CEO, Jeremy Raes. We are a close knit family at Lizard, so we all step in to help each other whenever possible!"
How did your Lizard Global story begin?
"To explain how I first got in touch with Lizard, I need to back up my life story a little bit. I was born in Delft and moved to the United States at the age of 3. I spent most of my life in the US in various jobs - largely focused on the tech industry as a developer, engineer, manager, and more. A few years ago, a change in my personal life caused me to reconsider my life and career in the United States. Long story short, I got in touch with Lizard via a common connection and they offered me a position at Lizard Global. I moved to The Netherlands with two suitcases in hand, and here we are! I couldn't be happier, as I have my blood-family here, but also have my adopted Lizard family. From day one, the entire team made me feel welcome."
What does your typical day at the office look like?
"My day usually begins with a cup of hot hazelnut coffee. That kickstarts my day and gets me in the right mindset. I then check my mail and various messages from clients who may not be in our same timezone, as well as from our team in Kuala Lumpur. After that, since there is some timezone overlap with our KL team, I tend to go straight into various project meetings (sprint meetings, planning sessions, etc.) that need one or more people from KL in attendance. The rest of my days are spent working with Markus or another member of the Sales Team to bring in and onboard new clients, working through Product Roadmaps and Backlogs, reviewing and testing the products we're working on, and providing coaching and helping our team grow both personally and professionally.”
“Somewhere in that packed planning, I eat a bit of lunch. In the late afternoon, I always take a short break to make myself a cup of strong Turkish coffee. At the end of the day, I check to make sure that each of the teams I work with has all the information they need in order to start their next day on the right track. Lastly, I close up shop and often go for a run (rain or shine, cold or heat) to stay fit and to help me make the transition from work-life to personal-life.”
What do you like most about your work at Lizard Global?
"There's so much to like about working for Lizard Global. While we're rapidly growing and expanding, we still value a relatively flat organization. It's very common for our CEO, Jeremy, to pop his head (virtually) into my desk area and ask for advice. The same goes the other way around. We expect a lot of ourselves and each other and all hold one and other accountable. I love that about Lizard.”
”We may not always all agree on things, as we all have different opinions, backgrounds, preferences, etc. But at the end of the day, we can all crack open a beer and get along like the close Lizard family we are.”
“Aside from that gushy stuff, I love working on and touching so many different projects, verticals, and clients. The variety of work and projects makes sure I’m never bored. There's always a new challenge around the corner. I am constantly impressed and humbled by the enthusiasm, dedication, hard work, and brilliance of the entire Lizard team - including each of our clients, because without them we would not exist!"
What’s an event or moment at Lizard Global that, in your opinion, perfectly captures the close bonds within the team?
“A great example of the culture and camaraderie at Lizard Global is from a few years back, when the football World Cup was held. While The Netherlands didn't make the cut, Belgium did. And, while our CEO, Jeremy is not a big football fan, he is a proud Belgian. We all joined in his country-pride and became close followers and fans of the Belgian national team. We followed the matches, decorated the office, put some supporting videos on our office tv screen, and went to a local outdoor pub to watch the matches whenever we could. We wore hats, drank, and partied in support of our adopted country. While Belgium ended up losing in the semi-finals, we all enjoyed the matches and each other's company.”
“Another memorable moment is from my first trip to KL. While in The Netherlands, everyone is used to riding a bicycle, that’s not the case in KL. That said, when I was out there, we did a team outing taking a bicycle tour of KL. Normally speaking that would be interesting and challenging in and of itself. But it happened to also be the middle of the rainy season. I really think that I have never been wetter than after that bicycle tour. It was a ton of fun, but man, I've never been so wet - even wetter than swimming in the ocean!"
How did you experience remote working & other significant changes during the COVID-19 pandemic?
“The COVID epidemic has had an impact on everyone's lives. Whereas I used to take the train every day to our office in Rotterdam, I now work from my home office in Amsterdam. Luckily, I'm used to working from home, as I was a 100% remote worker and manager in one of my previous jobs. Today's cloud-based tools and technologies are incredibly helpful with productivity, heck, with half a globe separating Kuala Lumpur and The Netherlands, we're all quite adept at working with remote teams. I do, however, miss the face-to-face interactions, like sharing a conversation next to the coffee machines at CIC in Rotterdam, or having a conversation with potential (and current clients) at Venture Cafe in Rotterdam with a cold beer in our hands. Luckily, as a business where innovation forms a cornerstone of our success, we have found creative ways within the company to have virtual happy hours.”
How do you experience the working culture differences between Kuala Lumpur and Rotterdam?
"While we currently have two offices, one in Kuala Lumpur and one in Rotterdam, Lizard Global does truly feel like one team. That said, there are some obvious differences between the two. During these colder, darker, near-freezing months in The Netherlands, it's glaringly obvious, and a bit jealousy-inducing to know that my colleagues in Kuala Lumpur are sunning it up in 35-degree weather. That difference in climate also impacts the office environment. Additionally, we have an incredibly diverse team at Lizard - especially in KL. That diversity creates a unique culture in our KL office. Ultimately, I like both the KL and NL offices and cultures and fit well in both.”
Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?
“10 years is an eternity in this field. I'm in my 40's now and if I think back 10 years, 30-something me would never have dreamed of working for a company like Lizard Global. So thinking about where I'll be in 10 years is difficult. I love what I do and love who I work with. Over the next several years, I would like to continue to help build and mature products and businesses as well as grow and coach younger talent to be the next generation of Lizard's continued success.”
“COVID has shown that many of us can successfully and effectively work remotely from anywhere in the world. So, personally, I would like to spend more time in Turkey - Istanbul, where my wife is from, and the coast (Izmir/Bodrum/etc.). But who knows, 10 years is a long ways away and life and Lizard may take me in a completely different direction. What I do believe is that in 10 years, I'll still have my "home base" here in The Netherlands.”
Meet more Lizards!
Want to know more about our different departments, offices, our Lizard Family and their daily occupations? Check out our previous interviews with Content creator & content manager Lotte, Commercial Director Markus, our software development team and Chathuri, our CEO and CO-founder Jeremy, our CTO and Co-founder Guido, our CEO Asia Terence, and our Senior Software Engineer Kenny. Keep an eye out for more interviews and find out more about our unique and skilled Lizards!