Ellis Stam HR Director Invest International

Lookout on careers & creating a culture at Invest International

October 24, 2022

With more and more people looking for work that gives them a sense of purpose, Invest International’s mission makes it a standout option for those wanting to make a difference in the world. The challenge and excitement of working at Invest International is summed up by Ellis Stam, Director of HR who came on board after a successful career in HR consulting.

Impact driven organisation

In a fiercely competitive jobs market, most recruiters have to work hard to stand out from the crowd by convincing potential recruits of their purpose-driven credentials. They know that job seekers of all ages these days want more than a pay check and a few fringe benefits to feel fulfilled at work.

More and more people – and not just the under 35s – are looking for a job that delivers over and above the usual financial rewards. And it’s not even a new phenomenon. It was more than ten years ago now that the Harvard Business Review published a highly influential article with the headline: ‘Meaning is the new money’.

And there can be few, if any organisations in The Netherlands that can give their employees a clearer sense of meaning than Invest International.

“It is a unique proposition, as we we work in a start-up setting and at the same time highly professional context combined with the fact that we have an impact driven mandate and purpose,” Ellis says. “This allows us to attract top talent, not only from the public sector but also from the corporate sector.”

Read more on our view on impact
Offices of Invest International in green at the Malietoren The Hague.

A view at the offices of Invest International at the Malietoren in The Hague.

Entrepreneurial and learning

“The organisation was only recently established, in July 2021, which means we are very much in a start-up mode. This means that people can contribute to building the proposition, processes and procedures, and the culture. It also means we need people who have an agile, entrepreneurial and learning mindset.” Adding: “People who have that are given the opportunity to take initiative, be creative and have impact both internally as well as externally.

“At the same time, Invest International is a professional organisation. The people that work for Invest International can be described as knowledgeable, achievement-driven with a common focus on creating impact. The challenges for Invest International are varied and sometimes complex.”

 

Learn more about Invest International

Alexander de Gaay Fortman:

 

“What I enjoy most about working at Invest International is the intrinsic motivation that my colleagues and I share in wanting to make impact.”

“This positive energy is ever present at our office”, says Alexander, who is working as an Investment Manager for Francophone Africa.

Meet the team of Invest International

Dutch solutions for global challenges

Financial expertise is needed to create unique funding packages for projects that often fall outside the parameters set by mainstream commercial lenders. Invest International also needs people who understand the world of overseas aid and the challenges it can present. It was given a unique, dual-purpose mission from the outset – to invest in Dutch solutions for global challenges and invest in overseas development projects.

To achieve this, Invest International puts government funds to work by supporting Dutch (or Dutch-linked) companies that can deliver projects that can help achieve the world’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

From providing safe drinking water for 400,000 people in Ghana, to supporting a company that produces sustainable and ethical smartphones. Invest International provides funding and project development by focusing on five sectors – agri-food, energy, healthcare, manufacturing and water & maritime.

Read more about the project in Upper East Ghana
Woman giving drinking water to man in Ghana.

Invest International puts government funds to work by supporting Dutch (or Dutch-linked) companies that can deliver projects that can help achieve the world’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Like with the project in Upper East Ghana (picture), where now 400,000 people have access to clean and safe drinking water.

Sense of purpose

In her ground-breaking piece, ‘Meaning is the new money’ the article’s author, Tammy Erikson argued that this sense of purpose is important on a number of levels. It’s not just about giving employees a deeper meaning to their work, so they feel more fulfilled – although that it obviously important.

It has practical benefits for the organisation too. As she pointed out in her article: “When employees are engaged, they are excited and enthusiastic about what they’re doing and enjoy pondering current challenges,” she argues. “They invite others in and are emotionally contagious. Engaged employees identify proudly with the organisation and their work. These are the conditions that drive individuals’ desires to collaborate in business.”

And in turn, that makes the business successful. Erikson’s words could have been specifically written about Invest International.

People discussing SGD themes in the offices of Invest International.

Colleagues at Invest International discussing financing solutions for Dutch SMEs and start-ups.

Positive energy

This sense of excitement is summed up perfectly by Alexander de Gaay Fortman, an Investment Manager for Francophone Africa. “What I enjoy most about working at Invest International is the intrinsic motivation that my colleagues and I share in wanting to make impact. This positive energy is ever present at our office.”

This sense of identity with the organisation makes Ellis’s job easier when it comes to establishing a culture in such a young organisation. She says: “We have people joining us that really are tuned into our purpose. People who have that same value system is something that really connects all the people joining the organisation.

“In this stage we need to support people in get to know themselves and each other a bit better and create an open learning environment so that people can connect effectively and learn from each other and can further build on what already exists.”

Meeting at the offices of Invest International in the Hague.

A meeting at the offices of Invest International.

Recruiting talent

Ellis’s colleague Robin Spaanderman is the person tasked with bringing on board the talent needed to make Invest International a success. So far they have recruited 50 new people to join the 80 staff already on board from the Dutch Enterprise Agency (RVO) and the Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO).

So what kind of people are they looking for? “We are a purpose-driven organisation. So we look for potential new colleagues who are looking for purpose in their professional life. For our part we need to work out if potential candidates really understand who we are. People who find us are often already driven towards a certain type of company and they will have done their due diligence to understand us.”

“And the unique nature of the company and its relative youth means that it is like a start-up in mentality while coming with the legacy of those who have joined from other agencies.” “This start-up mentality means we need people who are willing to be hands on,” adds Robin.

“There will still be a need for strategic thinking, but we need people to be able to act on their feet and not walk away from the operational work. That’s where we’re like a start-up.”

Woman working at her computer in the Invest International offices.

“We are a purpose-driven organisation. So we look for potential new colleagues who are looking for purpose in their professional life”, says Invest International’s recruiter Robin Spaanderman.

People, planet, profit

Right now the focus is on new starters and interns, so Robin has been spending time creating connections with universities and business schools.

“The three ‘P’s – people, planet, profit – are incredibly important to students in the business schools and universities. We believe it is easy for us to demonstrate that these qualities are at the heart of what we do.

“We’re in a good place because we calibrate with what people are looking for. We are building a new organisation and we have a pipeline of funds to fulfil our strategy. But we have momentum in a very tense and competitive labour market and we’re still managing to attract a lot of good people which tells you all you all you need to know about Invest International.”

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