Interview with Ernst Visscher, Manager Digital Products at PostNL, in which he shares his experiences about working with Calco.
How did you find Calco?
"Initially, I took over the Calco trainees from another IT department within PostNL, so the initial contact with Calco did not go through me. After these Calco trainees joined my department, I later hired more Calco trainees."
What made you want to work with us?
"We regularly deal with complex integration issues from our customers. This requires someone who is intelligent, can quickly master the material, and can support the rest of the team. It is very important to me that there are good people in this group with knowledge who also want to stay on in the long run.
Later on, I hired another Calco trainee because last year was a very busy year. We could use some extra power. I wanted to increase the quality of the team and give the rest of the team a bit more air. It is nice to have a base of Calco'ers within the team who can quickly take things off your hands. I don't have to worry about them so much.
The Calco'ers are working more on the complex issues. These are mainly large customers with high volumes. Their requests always have an IT component. And then the question is how to integrate that component. The Calco trainees will make sure that the integration will be a success. Before, of course, we were above all a logistics company, but you see that IT integration is becoming increasingly important."
These Calco'ers took over the manager's tasks for a while. Could you explain that?
“At the time, we were dealing with a huge increase in customer requests, which was quite a challenge for the team. Unexpectedly, we had to miss the manager for a few months and those months had to be bridged. As part of the further development of the Calco trainees, we asked them to take over some of the tasks of the manager.
One of them is very good at switching between business and IT, which makes our Account Managers very happy. The other took on the team very much during that period, for example, by giving a lot of personal attention to the employees. Great to see that everyone has their own skills."
Looking back on that period, how do you think they did?
"It's certainly been exciting, most of all for the regular IT support. It was a bit of trial and error, but it went really well. One more on the human side and the other more on the content side."
Now the manager is back. Do the trainees still have managerial tasks or is everything back to how it used to be?
“In principle, it's back to the way it was, only the intention is that in addition to customer integrations, the trainees will also focus on optimising and improving the IT support function as a whole and pick up special projects, such as a customer migration. In a 220-year-old company like PostNL, there are always systems and customer applications that are 'outdated' (legacy systems). For example, we put one trainee on an application that no longer met security standards."
Are you happy with your partnership with Calco?
"The trainees always pick up the IT knowledge quickly, regardless of their diverse study backgrounds. I like the diversity that Calco provides. One trainee has completed a medical study and another has studied history. In terms of making agreements and the processes around them, things are actually going very smoothly. Our purchasing department does most of that, I check the timesheets every month. I also enjoy working with Bob (Account Manager). Every now and then we call each other, sometimes to discuss things and sometimes just to keep each other posted."
What do you see as the real benefit of working with Calco and with our trainees specifically?
"What strikes me is that the people I know at Calco are actually all in crucial roles. One does very important support for large customers, which our Account Managers are very happy with.
A former Calco employee manages our back-end services including the API connections. When things go wrong, I really only communicate with (former) Calco'ers. My world is a little Calco right now. They grasp the issue quickly and absolutely contribute to the organisation."
Looking at the trainees who are here now and how they handle things, do you think it is possible for them to grow further?
"One trainee's contract expires around March/April, but there is already a blueprint for where this trainee can roll into. And I also see potential in this trainee. Furthermore, it also really is about a person's ambition. Some people like to keep doing what they do now. If someone wants to stay more on the content and doesn't need to make moves into a management position, that's fine too. Others have the ambition to grow into a certain role.
Of course, it is also important that you come to an environment where you are accepted, and that happens here with us. Everyone has their quirks and there's room for that too, thankfully."
What is the most successful case of a Calco trainee?
"An example is the knowledge base set up by a former Calco employee. All the knowledge of our people is now recorded, because it is a shame to lose certain knowledge when people leave. We also did a major migration with a Calco employee where we had to convert 3,000 customers. She was the initiator of this project and she managed to realise everything within the deadline. Another trainee has been working well on the integration of a large customer. This customer has a new flow of volume that now also goes through us and the trainee did the fine-tuning. He coordinated a lot with different departments. Every (former) Calco employee has made a contribution. Calco is crucial to us and particularly relating to the Business - IT intersection."