Last Thursday, entrepreneurs, recruiters and talents looking for a job provided tools for better recruitment, stronger interconnectivity and talent development at Spaces Herengracht. Amsterdam Talks Tech hosted its “Workforce Edition.” Four speakers were invited: Laurent Scholten, Thomas Moes, Dr. Marcia Goddard and Jorg Ruis.
Keeping your employees happy
Remy Gieling, editor-in-chief of Sprout, presented the event. Sprout is a startup that informs entrepreneurs on the latest business developments through articles, magazines, newsletters and various events. Comfortably, the speakers were sitting on a sofa on stage, which contributed to creating an informal atmosphere. Gieling started the talk by asking the audience to think of their first job. Short interviews between speakers and attendees revealed past experiences gone wrong at supermarket cashiers, cinema ticket offices and online underwear sales. “How did your work experience improved since then?” Gieling asked. “As a manager, how can you improve your employees’ work conditions?” Speakers Laurent Scholten, founder of Wonderland, a start-up that optimises job search and recruitment, and Thomas Moes, co-founder of Homerun, a recruitment software that aims to simplify the connection between entrepreneurs and potential employees, were called to answer. According to them, satisfied employees translate into a healthy business. “It’s important to make people happier through work,” confirmed Moes. The speakers agreed that nowadays society spends more time with their colleagues than with their friends or family, which is why it is important to choose who you are working with. Uber and Booking.com are among the clients of Wonderland, Scholten’s start-up that looks for the best candidates based on demographics, interests and online behavior. The platform can also be used as a tool for job seekers to find the job that fits them best.
Goddard’s teamwork philosophy
The second round of speakers hosted Jorg Rues, founder of Culture Builders, and Dr. Marcia Goddard, a 33-year-old neuroscientist now working at YoungCapital. Goddard used to be an assistant professor in Leiden, before she realized that academia did not bring her happiness anymore. The woman later got hired at Young Capital despite what she describes as her atypical profile. “We have no idea of what to do with you,” they told her. “But they gave me a chance,” Goddard remembers. She developed a new system for evaluating social assessment in an enterprise. A growth mindset, according to her, is the result of teamwork, willingness to take risks, intrinsic motivation, and empathy. This recipe is is tested by socio-psychological experiments to quantify those behaviors within YoungCapital’s employees. As an example of this process, the prisoner’s dilemma was used to assess employees’ teamwork, and the Cambridge gambling task for individuals’ will to take risks. Like Goddards, Jorg Rues believes that taking risks is the key to a successful enterprise. “The best example is Pixar,” he explains. “Take the cartoon Wall-E. It’s a movie about robots, where no one speaks for the first 35 minutes. In a pitch, that would sound like a very bad idea. But they took the risk, they did it, and it was a success.”
When advising people who are looking for their first job, Dr. Goddard claimed: “Don’t limit yourself. Explore, take risks, and if you are not happy, look for something else.” Often, universities do not always provide sufficient help to prepare students for the job market. “There is a huge gap between what students are taught and what they actually have to do when they start working unless you end up working in academia,” she said. “The whole university system needs to change. University should be more aware of what’s going on in the world, and care less about the academic bubble.”
Spaces: Towards a new concept of work
Besides organizing talks and events for both entrepreneurs and the general public, Spaces also offers co-working spaces for innovative enterprises. 37-year-old Lindsay Pronk, Head of Content, has been working at Spaces for many years. Maxime Tielman, 25, from Rotterdam, has started working for Spaces in March as Event Manager. The company aims to connect working people with each other. “Working alone in your office may not be a very motivating experience, whereas a space where you feel inspired by other workers can facilitate your own success,” said Pronk. “All Spaces buildings have an open area in the center, where people can meet each other and have a coffee.”
Some of the events, like Amsterdam Talks Tech are not only for the Spaces community itself but also for external attendees. “During our events we want to bring people together, inspire them and maybe even learn them something new,” explains Tielman. “The idea of Talks Tech is to be a platform for entrepreneurs, but also for the general public to discover the latest developments in the tech world.”
Founded in 2006, Spaces now counts five locations in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Den Haag. The first location, alongside Herengracht, opened in 2008.
Natascha Manuputty, 48 years old, is a Dutch woman with Indonesian origins. In the past, she worked in tourism and leisure management, and she is now looking for the next step in her career. Manuputty attended Amsterdam Talks Tech to look for inspiration. “I am interested in the new trends of the tech world, but also on the human aspect of work,” she explains. “Nowadays, everyone talks about Artificial Intelligence, about how robots can replace all human functions. There isn’t much focus on solving the problems of real people at work. These talks gave an overview of both tech and human perspectives. It was a great lineup.”