Chief Financial Officer – ALT The Netherlands
Petra, what excites you about working at ALT?
Working with people passionate about creating innovations and collaborations that best meet safety needs in the current markets and new mobility horizons excites me. What made me incredibly enthusiastic is the global presence of ALT, working with different nationalities, the continuous research & development plans to improve products and processes, and learning from other countries’ tax regulations and how to comply with local laws.
Future-oriented business operations are necessary to create the right conditions to meet challenges and continue to provide the best products. Healthy and robust financial administration is central to company functioning. This gives valuable insights and overviews to make the right choices at any time.
What is your role at ALT?
I am the chief financial officer. In short, I am, along with the international and national finance teams, responsible for the global cash flow cycles, the financial planning and reporting cycles, pricing strategy, analysing the company’s financial strengths and weaknesses, and proposing new strategic directions. I must balance competing priorities, manage complex financial systems, build and maintain stakeholder relationships, and manage change effectively.
A typical day involves developing and managing a budget and ensuring compliance with financial regulations, negotiating loans and lines of credit, creating financial statements, overseeing investment activities, and meeting with the teams. Our curated teams enable me to have close contact with international colleagues.
My focus is bringing together people, resources and processes to achieve business goals optimally, where seeking connection is the most essential factor.
We would love to hear about your background and experience.
I am a finance professional through and through! I am an experienced business unit controller and finance director with a demonstrated history of working in the retail industry, banking and accountancy.
My career started at a small accounting firm where I learned all the tricks of the trade. After this, I started working at The Netherlands’ largest bank in the private leasing business. In 2001, I switched to retail and before starting at ALT I worked for 10 years at the world’s largest international health & beauty retailer.
What drew you to ALT’s industry, comprising automotive, home appliances, and converting?
After 20 years of retail, I chose to leave my comfort zone by pursuing a career in this industry. There is a specific interface between the transition made in my formal job, the 360 approach to retail, and the shift from offline to online business. In the automotive industry, a change is also occurring through the vital transition from fossil fuel to hybrid/electric.
I am also learning from and adapting the lean strategy within ALT. This business approach aims to optimise efficiency, reduce waste, and improve organisational workflow to deliver more value to our customers.
You might be new to the team, but what do you enjoy most about working in ALT?
I enjoy working with my colleagues. ALT has many employees working on a senior level, resulting in a vast knowledge of products and processes, professionalism and commitment. During work, there is also room for conversations on a personal level, which enables solid social relationships between members of the different departments. You’re a member of one big ALT family and part of a team with connections on a deeper level. I am very comfortable and at ease with the people in ALT. Having these human conversations makes us more empathetic and fosters excellent discussions.
How do you see your role evolving at ALT?
I want to continue participating in ALT’s inclusivity and extend my commitment to climate neutrality, circularity, and fair gains in activities and processes to ensure our company remains future-proof. If we want to stay around for another 50+ years, we have to contribute something of value, not just to the company but also to the world. And not only money but also nice gestures and a sense of feeling.
What professional philosophy or approach would you like to foster within ALT?
My philosophy toward work is to challenge myself continuously, even in aspects of my job with which I’m already familiar. Learning new things, taking new opportunities and working with different members of the various departments are ways I find motivation. Getting involved with the teams or leading a project to innovate, automate, increase efficiency and improve documentation motivates me to work harder.
I strive toward perfection and want to do the best job possible. Work is important to me because I enjoy doing things that’ll either help someone or potentially change someone’s life, even if that’s in a small way.
What are your hobbies or interests outside of work?
My hobbies outside work are shopping, drawing, and going to the opera, concerts, cinema and musicals. I take care of my 90+ father, together with my brothers and sisters. My favourite holidays include cultural city trips and safaris in Africa.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone aspiring to work in your field?
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” — Aristotle
My working motto has always been: you have to be a specialist at something to contribute something of value to a company.
For beginners at their job, companies don’t have time to train you. So, the better option is to take the initiative and up-skill yourself. You can take up courses or attend webinars, available for free in this digital era, so make use of them! Focus on learning, not only on the certification. Of course, there will still be a big part of training on the job, but this will facilitate your first steps when working in the financial department.
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