Wim ClaassenCustomer Success Manager at Voys
"It's done, I want to go back,' was my thought."
Wim Claassen (38) is not technically trained, but has nevertheless found his niche in the digital sector. As Customer Success Manager at Voys, he is right at home here in the North. In Groningen, there are plenty of cool companies. You don't necessarily have to be in the West for that.''
As a boy, Wim grew up in Usquert, an idyllic Groningen village. In the middle of nature, close to the dike. ''It was nice living there. Few stimuli, nice and quiet.'' But the urge to look further was there from an early age. At 17, he left for Leeuwarden to study Media and Entertainment Studies. He wanted to make TV. ''How exactly I didn't know yet, but the combination of image and sound appealed to me enormously.'' No sooner said than done. In the years that followed, he worked for several production companies, including Talpa in Hilversum. He lived in Amsterdam.
At the time, he switched from job to job. Sometimes he had nothing to do for a while. ''During a project in Portugal, I spoke to a colleague who had to take a part-time job at an after-school childcare centre to cover his expenses. Then I thought: I don't want to go that way.'' Moreover, he increasingly realised that Amsterdam as a big city was not the right place for him. ''I had gone there to grow, but I was not living. I felt more like a spectator than a resident.''
In the summer of 2014, the tipping point came for Wim. During a holiday on Schiermonnikoog, his favourite Wadden Island, it became clear to him. ''It's done, I want to go back, was my thought. When I discussed this with friends from Amsterdam, they actually felt the need to leave as well.'' Still, it was not an easy choice. ''Returning to Groningen felt a bit like failure. But it wasn't: I chose for myself.''
"Here we are open to each other, open to change. Plenty of possibilities and opportunities.''
So it certainly wasn't a step backwards. The adage that potential lies in the Randstad is not always correct. ''Careers can also be made here,'' he says. ''Here in Groningen you have plenty of cool companies that make a difference. You don't necessarily have to be in the West for that.'' One such company is Voys, a provider of business telephony. Started as a Groningen start-up and grown into a thriving company. With both national and international customers. But still with the down-to-earth, Groningen character. ''Here we work with less management, on a basis of open communication and options for everyone.''
According to Wim, Groningen's strong networks and direct communication are also an advantage. ''Groningen is a big city wrapped up in the character of a small village. Both professionally and socially, everyone knows how to find each other here. Less from ego, more from cooperation.'' Besides the many start-ups in Groningen, there are also big players like Belsimpel. ''You don't need to be in the Randstad for these kinds of companies either. You just find them in the North,'' said Wim.
The image about Groningen people is not always correct, he thinks. ''People sometimes think we are difficult to approach, a bit stiff. The opposite is true: here we are open to each other, open to change. Plenty of possibilities and opportunities.'' Wim therefore welcomes anyone who wants to make a career here. ''Come and pay us a visit. Enjoy the energy of the city and unwind in the province. Working and living has never been so pleasant.''
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