The CEO of the AI company Klippa said that if all a company’s documentation and all communication is in Dutch it will be harder for English-speaking employees to feel at home and to succeed at their job.
Yeelen Knegtering spoke with the job platform Make it in the North about how his company was able to benefit from hiring international staff. Founded in 2015, Klippa aims to digitise and automate administrative processes with modern technology. A great part of that includes the use of machine learning and optical character recognition (OCR).
According to the CEO, Klippa has been hiring expats since 2019 and hasn’t looked back since. It currently has an international team of over 70 people, with offices in Groningen, Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Brasov.
“We also see that a lot of internationals are very ambitious. And I think that fits very well with the scale-up because we want to grow by 100% every year. If you want to achieve that you also need to be very ambitious,” Knegtering told Make it in the North.
The internationals he hired helped Klippa grow towards other countries in Europe. Their local knowledge and language prowess helped them expand to places like Germany, France, and Spain. They now do business in 35 countries, but it’s mainly in the DACH region – so Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
“We put a lot of emphasis on culture and people”
Knegtering said they have an onboarding process for both Dutch and international staff.
“We put a lot of emphasis on culture and people. And we think culture is very important because in general, it determines how you operate as a company. And we say that work should be more than just work. So you can go to any company from 9 to 5 and just do your work. But if you’re an international especially, there’s also more of a need to network. A local network. So making friends and getting to know people in the country and having a culture that does more than work,” the CEO said.
Asked about whether he’d suggest that other companies should also hire internationals, Knegtering said that one has to make sure that one’s company culture fits this move.
“So you have to adapt to speaking English in groups and create company documentation in English. These things are important. If an English speaker finds everything in Dutch it’s going to be harder for them to feel at home and harder for them to be successful,” he said.
Photo: Julia Dumchenko