Let's Talk: Winny van Heijningen & Heleen Lugt | young professionals of LetsGrow.com
A while ago we looked back on 20 years of LetsGrow.com with Leon and Edwin, LetsGrowers from the very beginning. How did the company start and how did they experience it? Did you miss that article? Then click here.
But in addition to LetsGrowers from the very beginning, there are also plenty of colleagues at LetsGrow.com who are newer to the club. The company has grown a lot in recent years and a lot of young talent has started there. And despite the fact that they have only been with us for a short time, these colleagues also stand out in their own way in their function, development and innovation capacity and show that development in your career at LetsGrow.com is possible for everyone. Two good examples of this are our Sales Manager Winny and Data Driven Growing Specialist Heleen.
Winny walked into the gates of our office in Vlaardingen three years ago. With a degree in Sociology, but daughter of a grower, horticulture is in her blood. So after her studies she started working as a team leader at the renowned grower Florensis. After a while, her interest in horticulture began to make a switch to the software side of the industry. And then one plus one suddenly became two. A vacancy on the website, a call with Managing Director Peter Hendriks and so it happened. Started as an Account Manager, but from April 1 this year, she has grown into the role of Sales Manager.
Heleen graduated in February 2020 from her Biology study at Wageningen University & Research (WUR). For her graduation project she studied the behavior of honeybees. Like Winny, this is not really a horticulture-related study, but if you have honeybees in mind, then you quickly end up with bumblebees. And let that be one of the many hard workers in our industry. “I was looking for a job where the combination between biology and engineering came out strong. Eventually, I read a story on LinkedIn about Plant Empowerment and found myself at LetsGrow.com. The position of Data Driven Growing Specialist turned out to be a hit”.
Teamwork makes the dreamwork
Winny explains what invited her to apply: “What struck me most about LetsGrow.com was that you are given a lot of responsibility right from the start. You can create opportunities yourself and also take them. This was promised during the job interviews, but proved to be true. I come from an entrepreneurial family, so that mentality suits me very well. I can really express myself here”. Heleen also agrees: “All my colleagues have a great research drive, so we are constantly developing new things together or improving our work. I really like that about my job. The organization is not layered and a lot is developed without too much fuss. Developments go quickly because we have many specialists in the house, but especially because people are given the space to try out new things straight away. Teamwork really makes the dreamwork”.
Winny is the contact person for various growers around the world on behalf of LetsGrow.com. Although she often puts her focus on countries such as Australia and Japan. “I am the early bird of the team, so because of the time difference with The Netherlands, these countries are perfect for me. In this way, we distribute our clients within the team according to everyone’s field of interest.” Heleen, laughing, notes that she then has to talk to her team members about that distribution again.”I’m actually a morning person too, but still have a lot to do with customers in the region of North-America”. In the end Heleen is very happy with the cases she is presented with as a Data Driven Growing Specialist. She explains: “I always do get excited about new ideas. Trying new things and getting the space for this. In the training courses that we provide to growers, this is even very important. Every situation is different and there is always room for improvement. You can put your own knowledge, and that of your colleagues, to good use because everyone has their own expertise. In this way we can offer our customers really good guidance so that they can grow into real Data Driven Growers”.
Making horticulture more sustainable with data
The field within data in horticulture has changed a lot in recent years. Winny also agrees: “My job is not the same as when I started. Three years ago, many growers still found data a bit scary and overwhelming, but now almost every large or small grower knows that they want to do something with it. How they can do this is often a question we are asked. At LetsGrow.com we strive to ensure that every grower does something with data or recognizes the added value of data. Whether it’s comparing data or a full Data Driven Growing strategy. For example, I am very proud of my first implementation project with a large client from Asia with multiple locations. I started with them a number of years ago by reading and comparing their data in our platform MyLetsGrow, but together they are now making the transition to a full Data Driven Growing cultivation strategy and Heleen’s team is helping them with this in the form of training courses.”
Heleen adds: “At LetsGrow.com a lot of attention and focus goes to creating a more sustainable horticulture worldwide. I really like that about the company. Our services enable us, our growers, but also crop advisors to gain more insight into what is happening in a greenhouse. By using that data intelligently, you can make smarter use of your resources and therefore grow more sustainably. I think it’s super cool to be part of a company that is at the forefront in the field of data in horticulture and has more than twenty years’ experience. LetsGrow.com is developing all the time”. Winny adds: “I was colleague number 13 and now we are already heading towards 50. A team of young talents with a certain speed and enthusiasm, combined with more experienced employees who provide a certain stability and security”. “And also a good mix between men and women!”, adds Heleen. And that is certainly true. At LetsGrow.com almost half of the organization consists of women.
Winny visiting customers in Mexico.
It’s a man’s world
It is often said that the horticultural industry and real man’s world, but this is not how these ladies experience it. “At first I did not notice that many men work in this industry, because at LetsGrow.com the contrast is hardly noticeable. Only when others from my network mentioned it, I did start to see it differently”, is what Heleen explains. But both Winny and Heleen don’t really give it much attention. Winny says: “Men and women together provide a certain dynamic in the team, although I am of course a little bit proud of all the ladies in this industry”. So we can say: ‘It’s a man’s world, but it would be nothing without a woman or a girl. At LetsGrow.com it certainly is!
Heleen while doing crop registrations, together with colleague Ilva.