Apolline, Clotilde’s baby, is sleeping peacefully in her mum’s arms when we call in via Zoom. “I’m still on maternity leave”, she apologizes “but I’d really like to be part of this book.” For an interview-with-baby we switch to Mediabrands mode, i.e. with the necessary flexibility.
Three and a half years ago, Clotilde Vromman was recruited by Mediabrands to strengthen its data department. But shortly after she was hired, her superior left her job. “I was suddenly on my own,” she says, “which was quite tough for a newcomer.” Fortunately, she is no longer on her own, but she still considers it a great achievement that she was able to keep things going at the time. “That boosted my confidence.”
Meanwhile, Clotilde has worked her way up to Senior Data Visualization Specialist. “It means that I maintain the clients’ dashboards. Those are tools to visualize data.” Clotilde uses that data to report results, as dashboards help the team make decisions or strategic adjustments. “The better you can communicate something visually, the better you can use that information afterwards”, Clotilde explains.
Give and take
As much as she likes her job, she hopes to be able to focus more on analyses in the future. “And less on time sheets,” she jokes, “but it’s something that has to be done.” Every hour she has to write down exactly what she has done in order to better evaluate the value we are driving for our clients. “We have high expectations to meet”, Clotilde continues, “but if I compare Mediabrands to my previous job, I get a lot more flexibility. She has nothing but praise for the HR team, “who always remain very understanding of exceptional circumstances. If it’s really necessary, we get an extra day off, for example. But in return, we are also expected to show the necessary flexibility when the need arises. To me, that’s only normal.”
The atmosphere within her team is clearly good. The work is divided between two French-speaking and two Dutch-speaking colleagues, which occasionally results in funny language-related misunderstandings. “Sometimes we speak three languages in a single sentence: Dutch, French and English. An outsider would barely be able to understand.” The fact that she occasionally steals nougat from her colleague Liesbeth’s drawer proves how close everyone is within her department. Or rather it was, because since Covid and partly because of her maternity leave, she hasn’t seen some employees in a year and a half. And that is starting to take its toll. She feels very anxious about her work environment now. The daily morning call to motivate the team and discuss the various ongoing projects is not enough for Clotilde. She longs for more contact. “Sometimes I have no idea anymore what my colleagues from the other departments are doing.” Her tone of voice clearly reveals a hint of nostalgia for the days when you would bump into someone in the corridors and at the coffee machine, and have a spontaneous chat. “I know that management tried to solve this by organizing all kinds of online activities such as fitness classes or virtual ‘aperos’, but these always took place within the individual teams, not company-wide. I’ve lost my connection with others, which is a pity.”
”I regularly steal Nougatti from my colleague Liesbeth’s drawer.Clotilde Vromman
Before Covid, we enjoyed plenty of group activities. At Mediabrands, we are really encouraged to exercise. The company’s location, right next to the Sonian Forest, is also perfect for exercising. “Before the pandemic, we would often go jogging in the forest with our colleagues during our lunch break. And then we’d take a quick shower before going back to work. It was a great way to recharge our batteries.” Tom Van Hoof gave her a booklet on the positive effects of running. “Tom is very much into that and I fully agree with him. Running is not only healthy, but it also keeps you mentally sharp and literally gives your brain an oxygen boost. It improves your ability to think. Running helps me come up with new insights and ideas.” For Clotilde, running is almost an addiction. She has already run several marathons and in 2019 she participated in the ‘Warmste Week’ charity run at Heysel. She truly admires the American marathon runner Katherine Switzer. “She was the first woman to run the Boston marathon in 1967. Before that, women were not allowed to participate in marathon races. She was even attacked during the race in an attempt to keep her out of the competition.” Clotilde admires all the women who have been pioneers, opening doors for her. “That’s my feminist side,” she laughs. “As for Switzer, it took until 1972 for the Boston Marathon to set up an official women’s race. Can you imagine? That’s not even that long ago…”