At Amsterdam Data Collective (ADC), Managers typically specialise their work, while leading a team of Junior and Senior Consultants. Henriette Claus joined ADC three years ago and has since progressed to become a Strategy and Innovation Manager. Together we discuss ADC’s development opportunities, motivating a team, and taking initiative in the workplace.
What has been your career progression while working at ADC?
I joined ADC several years ago following my Master’s degree in econometrics, and I have since grown to become the Strategy and Innovation Manager. On the road to becoming a Senior Consultant and then Manager, I had the opportunity to work on many different projects, including several pro bono projects. By diversifying my work, I quickly learned what I find most interesting.
Strategy and Innovation appeals to me because I am interested in having a broad career rather than exclusively focusing on financial and technical consulting. I enjoy that strategy moves and changes quickly, which helps me keep an entrepreneurial mindset while getting out of my comfort zone. My time at ADC has really pushed me to follow a career path that I find both interesting and challenging. This allows me to keep learning and growing in the long term.
“I really started to get involved in the company’s growth as a Senior Consultant, specifically through our expansion to Copenhagen.”
Can you describe the differences in terms of expectations and challenges between junior and senior roles?
To begin with, the challenges you face as a Junior Consultant are primarily technical compared to more senior roles. This is because most of your time as a Junior Consultant is spent doing analyses and coding. As you progress into a more senior role, the challenges you face shift to how you manage projects and how certain actions impact your clients. The focus starts to be on looking into the future and taking on more responsibility within both client projects and internal business development. I really started to get involved in ADC’s growth as a Senior Consultant, specifically through our expansion to Copenhagen.
Tell me more about your role in ADC’s entry into the Danish market.
When ADC decided to expand, I immediately wanted to be involved. Together with a team of ten people, we researched what city would be a good fit for us. Eventually, we decided on Copenhagen. The core values of ADC: quality of work, direct communication, and honesty are all values that are very much embedded in the Danish culture. On top of that, we analysed the job market in Copenhagen, and discovered that there is a high demand for data science experts.
Being involved in ADC’s business development through the Copenhagen expansion has been an amazing opportunity. Together with Govert (Director, Copenhagen), I have made several trips to Copenhagen to achieve a smooth entry into the market. This really exemplifies one of the best parts of working at ADC: if you have a good idea and take initiative, you will always be supported.
“The Secure Base is in place to foster a culture where it is not only okay to make mistakes, but it is also encouraged; mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities rather than something to be penalised for.”
As a manager, how do you transfer expertise and motivate your team members?
It all stems from the collective feeling that ADC cultivates; we enjoy working as a team and helping each other grow. I try to motivate my team members by getting them to think about the potential implications and “what if” questions surrounding a project. Additionally, ownership is very important at ADC. I was immediately given a lot of responsibility when I started, so I try to do the same for my team members. When you are given responsibilities, you feel like you are part of the team. This adds to the overall collective feeling.
On top of that, we also have the Secure Base, which forms the blueprint of ADC. The Secure Base is in place to foster a culture where it is not only okay to make mistakes, but it is also encouraged; mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities rather than something to be penalised for. As a Manager, I want to create an environment where my team members are challenged to get out of their comfort zones and feel safe doing so. ADC supports this perspective by organising biyearly training days. They challenge us to talk about our vulnerabilities and ambitions in both our work and personal lives. This creates such a strong bond between everyone within the company.
What distinguishes ADC in project management?
From the beginning, ADC has always been committed to defining its objectives and investing in its employees’ development. The first employee the founders hired, Merel (Hr, Strategy & Innovation Manager), works on developing a company strategy and personal development opportunities. That is exceptional for such a small company! I think this speaks to the success of ADC: we have always invested in these types of boundary conditions; it is in our DNA.
On top of that, we place a lot of importance on being transparent about what we can and cannot do. We are not seeking out projects that take many years to see results. Instead, we prefer to see how we can add value to a client in the short term and then gradually continue to build on that work. As a result, we always build a project from the ground up. We prefer to start small and then expand rather than start from a much broader perspective.
Lastly, we really value open communication and honesty. It is important to us that our clients are happy and that each project is delivered on time with the highest possible quality. If we commit to something, we will not only make sure it happens, but also that it is done well.
How do you find balance between working at ADC and your free time?
This question comes along a lot during interviews; people really cannot believe it when I say that I have a good work-life balance, but it is true! ADC allows me to be flexible and determine what hours suit my personal schedule. I think our healthy work hours are a product of the nature of the job: it is highly technical work. It is not possible to maintain focus while programming all day until midnight. If you are working until you are half asleep, mistakes are much more likely to be made. We really value the quality of our work.
“It is amazing to work with people who are so driven by what they do. This is not just a job to us; we want to make an impact and change the world, maybe not entirely, but at least partly for the better.”
How would you describe the company culture?
There is a good mix of working hard and being social. Personally, I always look forward to the annual ski trip and the collective week. These are both very important to our company culture; they provide an opportunity for us to grow closer as a group and build relationships with our colleagues. This helps keep us in sync on our objectives. We are all very ambitious and collectively motivated to make real, substantial impact through data science. It is amazing to work with people who are so driven by what they do. This is not just a job to us; we want to make an impact and change the world, maybe not entirely, but at least partly for the better.
After working for several years at ADC, what keeps you excited?
ADC is constantly changing; you really cannot recognise the company from just half a year ago. We are adding so much new talent and clients, making changes to management and processes, and taking on bigger projects. Working in such a dynamic environment makes it impossible to become bored. There is a lot of ongoing opportunity for change and to develop myself into a more well-rounded employee through trainings, new projects, and new team members who are all very skilled at what they do.