Our latest Employee of the Month is a Marketing Cloud wizard from the Netherlands, Thomas Hillebrink. Hillebrink is known as an avid fan of board games and deep discussions about almost any topic.
How did you end up in Finland?
For the longest time I’ve had a fascination with Finland. The nature, the culture, the people, it just felt like a natural fit to me. I appreciate the quiet and calm demeanour of the Finns and how they appreciate the small things in life. Enjoying lunch, sitting in a sauna, and escaping civilization to one’s cottage every once in a while to spend time with family and loved ones.
Similarly I enjoy things on a small and cozy scale. In the Netherlands we have a word for it, known as “gezellig” which translates to a feeling of a homey, cozy and pleasant social feeling.
When I came here for the first time in 2014 I would start working at the microbiology labs at the Helsinki University in Viikki for a year as a recent graduate. After that year flew by I decided I wanted to stay here and make it my home.
You took a couple of turns here and there before joining Biit. What happened after you came to Finland?
For years afterwards I worked many different jobs, trying to figure out what would make me happy and would allow me to stay here. Eventually I settled on Web Development, and in a relatively short period learned the skills of the job.
Not long after I was recruited to join a small scale Salesforce Consultancy to learn to become a Salesforce Developer. This however, was in my birth country the Netherlands. With no small amount of pain in my heart I decided to leave my Finland home behind and focus on my career, but hoped I would be able to return one day.
Fortunately, that opportunity arrived barely a year later when I shared my hopes to return to a Finnish friend I had kept in touch with. I was pointed to a mutual acquaintance who worked at Biit, and encouraged to send Biit my cv. I was contacted that same day, and was overjoyed to sign up with Biit a little over a week later.
People around the office know that you’re very much into board games. What other activities do you enjoy?
In my free time I enjoy spending time with my partner and friends. We are huge board- and roleplaying fans, and have a dedicated board game room in our house where we regularly host people to come play together for periods of time.
I also enjoy going to small scale gigs in clubs and other venues in Helsinki on occasion, preceded by some food at one of the many excellent restaurants the city has to offer.
You’ve been working for Biit since June ’21. How has it been so far?
Starting at Biit with a wide variety of skills and knowledge at that point, I worked on many different projects for just as many clients. After a while, I felt most at home with the Marketing Team. My background in front-end development and visual design made this feel like the most natural fit, and fortunately Biit was happy to let me pick the direction I wanted to grow in at every step of the way.
Growing my expertise in Marketing I was able to take on more and more complicated tasks and projects, and eventually was promoted to Senior Developer and still work in this position with great enjoyment.
When I joined Biit, it was a bit smaller in terms of the amount of people working there than it is now, which naturally means the ambience of a company changes a bit. While initially I knew most people by name and face, at this time people joined and have left the company without me having ever spoken to them.
That said, Biit tries its hardest to maintain a sense of community and belonging, which means that everyone can remain feeling involved even as the company grows. I’ve similarly always appreciated the way Biit is relatively hands-off in terms of how individuals do their work. There is a large sense of trust amongst everyone, and in general employees are free to choose their devices, working location and working hours within reason.
Similarly Biit happily supports their employees’ growth in the direction they enjoy and are interested in, and are also given the time and opportunity to explore this before they commit. This gives a great sense of ownership and satisfaction in the work that we do, as for a large part it was work that we were able to choose to do.
What has been the most memorable moment so far?
Looking back at my time at Biit, I think the most impactful was the day after I arrived back in Finland. It was COVID time, so everyone had been working from home for a long period, and I had been working remotely from the Netherlands until I got the green light to start the moving process.
I arrived by aeroplane in Finland, and the next day as a means of a prize for a successful sales period in August we were all going on a sailboat tour across the Helsinki archipelago. Like me, everyone had been working from home until then, so no one had really seen each other for a long time.
And at the same time this was the first time I met my colleagues that I had so far only seen on the computer screen. It was a rather unreal experience, not only being my first full day again in Finland, but immediately being surrounded by great people who work at Biit, and feeling very welcomed immediately. In the years afterwards I have had many amazing times, but still that first outing where I got to meet everyone and essentially started a new chapter in my life still stands out to me.
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