Published: December 04, 2019
Published: December 04, 2019

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The Most Challenging Situations Are the Ones You Learn the Most From

Before joining PPG, Henk researched the social impact of microfinance in rural Ethiopia as part of his Masters in Organization Studies (Human Behavior in Organizations). Prior to that, he sang at a piano bar in Guatemala to support his Spanish language studies. Henk’s career journey has always been quite a ride, and it hasn’t been any different while working in PPG!

Starting in PPG as a Fresh Graduate

Recently appointed as workforce experience manager for the EMEA region, Henk originally joined PPG in 2007. He started as a graduate, running IT-projects with assignments in different countries. He spent nine years working for Protective and Marine Coatings Business in the marketing department, where he worked his way up to marketing and business development director for EMEA.

I never planned my career and mainly focused on working hard, delivering, learning, and taking on new experiences. Fortunately, I worked for managers who would give me the stretching assignments and projects that shaped me.

Henk always looks for ways to bring his own passion into his work. For him, one of the most important things is connecting people. This was the reason he set up the Young Professional Organization. Though not a career move at the time, he now considers it one of the best career steps he’s ever taken.

Opportunity Called When He Wanted to Leave PPG

While working for a longer time in one company, we can all reach a moment when we start to reevaluate our careers. In 2018, for the first time, Henk started to take a good look at his career.

I wanted to find a role that was closer to who I am and what I wanted to achieve in my career.

He attended career counseling which helped him remember what he always wanted to do – to empower people to bring their full selves and full potential to their work. Based on this, Henk decided to leave our company and pursue his dream job in consulting/advising. But then something unexpected happened… PPG called!

Bringing The PPG Way to Life

I was asked to work on PPG’s culture and take on the role I have today.
Since Henk was being open about his dreams and plans with his manager, he got an incredible opportunity to help implement our new company cultural change, The PPG Way. He is now part of The Workforce Experience Team, responsible for building an empowering inclusive and purposeful culture with a focus on engagement, diversity and inclusion.
I spend most of my time activating The PPG Way: designing team sessions, facilitating sessions, training facilitators, and piloting tools and approaches that will help us sustain change.

He also designs research on what the most critical moments in the lives of our colleagues are and how the team can turn those insights into an improved employee experience. That’s why he enjoys meeting peers from other companies to learn from their initiatives and how he might bring them to PPG. His passion is for seeing how to empower people to bring their full potential to the work they do.

Since I entered the culture and engagement space, I consume a few hours of podcasts per week, read loads of books and connect with consultants. I am also part of the professional networks where I meet peers from other companies. Plus, I push myself into challenging speaker opportunities and workshops. Those opportunities force me to get out of my comfort zone and build my story out of everything I have learned. The most challenging situations are also the ones you learn the most from and sometimes you need to push yourself into them.

Diversity in Teams Drives Creativity

Henk believes diversity in teams drives creativity and improves decision-making and interpersonal relations. He says it’s about building a community out of people of different backgrounds, walks of life, experience and perspectives.

The PPG Way is all about building a culture that is more innovative, agile, and inclusive. This will enable us to attract and retain a more diverse group of employees and get the benefits from it.

Henk and his team recently worked on the Women’s Leadership Council strategy, proactively engaging with the female talent pool and making diversity an important pillar in external communications.

Surely There Can’t Be Any Spare Time

Through PPG, Henk attended OneYoungWorld conferences in Pittsburgh and Johannesburg, and has become part of their alumni network. He mentors young social entrepreneurs on their initiatives.

I have worked with a human rights activist in Geneva, an app designer who focuses on homeless people in London, and someone who wanted to professionalize water projects in rural Uganda.

He has also coached non-governmental organizations in Amsterdam, including a theater group for people with dementia and a team that raised funds for schooling projects in Kenya.

Don’t Forget to Enjoy the Ride

When he’s not improving lives at home and all over the globe, his more traditional hobbies are playing piano and singing, running, kickboxing, futsal, and entertaining his young boys – aged four and six.

Since earlier this year, I work four days a week, which enables me to spend more time with my boys as well as for sports and studying. This is a great experience, especially in this last year before my youngest will start school.

Looking back at the time Henk arrived at PPG, he never would have expected he would be one of those that would be around for more than 10 years. However, here he is, still enjoying the ride, and what a ride it has been!ppg-henk-zech-career-story-ppg-way-2.jpg

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