We were recently lucky enough to spend some time chatting to Annemarie van Assen, HR Leader for Europe, Cummins Emission Solutions. Statements such as “I like change, I thrive on change”, “we all bring something to the table and that is why you are there”, “I never see a man or a woman, I deal with people” and “stay true to yourself” trip off the tongue and single her out as a passionate, inspiring, driven and dedicated HR professional. Oh and did we say she loves knitting and used to fly helicopters? Read the first of our four-part series here.
Born in the Netherlands, Annemarie recounted her career which began in education after obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Primary Education and Psychology. Her first job was as a teacher in a large primary school in the Netherlands and she subsequently progressed to Head Teacher:
when I look back now I think “wow that was a great start”
“Looking back I think this was the best start to my working life because in education and particularly primary education, the experiences that you get are so broad; you have to learn how to work independently, how to present, how to take the lead of a group and communicate well with different stakeholders including parents. I didn’t realise it then but when I look back now I think “wow that was a great start”.”
Annemarie and her partner have always been very interested in the UK; they enjoy holidaying here and through their interest in off-roading with 4×4 vehicles, they have over the years made friends and contacts. In 2004, Annemarie’s partner was offered his dream job in the UK with a 4 wheel drive specialist and so they thought “we’ve got nothing to lose, let’s do it”:
“So in April 2004, my partner moved to the UK; I finished the school year and followed him later on. Although I didn’t have a job to go to and was very happy in education, I began to question if there was anything more and thought maybe this was a good opportunity to explore something new.”
It was at this stage that Annemarie grabbed the opportunity to follow her dream to train as a helicopter pilot. She spent a year combining part-time working and training to fly and initially secured a role with the French Bank, BNP Paribas. “It was a very basic job in Customer Service but great because I was able to learn the language, received some great customer service training and experience working with customers as well as the chance to familiarise myself with British office culture.” During this time she also got her helicopter licence and attended Ground School.
Thereafter, Annemarie moved to National Cash Registers (NCR) as Internal Key Account Manager looking after customers (mainly banks) in the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands where she continued to improve her language skills and customer interactions. She continued to build her flying hours with the aim to become a full-time commercial helicopter pilot. Around the same time she was approached by a Recruiter for Cummins about a role in Corporate Recruitment looking after all entities in continental Europe. The interview with the Hiring Manager turned into a 3 hour conversation. “There was a definite click between us, we were both very excited and I got the job“.
In the next article Annemarie talks about her exciting career with Cummins so far.