Suzanne Coppers knows NTS inside out. She has been part of the HR team since 1999 and worked in various functions for a number of NTS companies, in recent years as Senior HR Advisor. 'Standstill is not part of NTS. We are developing continually, for example in technology, disciplines and methods. This way we are able to serve our customers the best way we can, and it’s how we all earn our living. However, this means that our people often have to deal with change. The core of HR is to support them so they can have fun in their work, do well and fulfill their ambitions. And when we succeed in doing that, I get a lot of satisfaction.'
You have been working at NTS for a long time...
“I've been on the job here for two decades. I started in 1999 in the HR team at Te Strake in Deurne. I experienced the merger with Nebato - the creation of NTS. After that I worked in for our assembly company NTS Mechatronics and our specialist in the production of coverings NTS Hermus. During the recent two years I work as a Senior HR Advisor for our group and focus on NTS Mechatronics, NTS Precision and our frames & cabinets companies.”
That sounds like a stirring existence in the HR...
“Anyone who works at NTS knows the ongoing transformation that characterizes this organization. This is of course due to the development of our company. We want to be an international manufacturing and development partner for OEMs. NTS has therefore grown enormously and widened its activities extensively. All kinds of companies and disciplines were added to the group. That was necessary to make our ambitions come true. But there were consequences of course, also for us at HR.”
Suzanne Coppers (r) with her HR colleague Lisan de Bresser
And also for you?
'Sure. When an organization is shifting constantly, this naturally causes ambiguity and uncertainty sometimes. There are people who find that difficult to deal with, and that is logical. But it also offers opportunities. Due to a reorganization at NTS Mechatronics in 2008, my function was declared excessive. Fortunately, I got the chance to fill in an HR function that opened up at NTS Hermus. That was a nice step and it helped me grow in my profession.”
Was a career in the HR always a dream for you?
"Not really. I sort of rolled in it at young age and am not a person who’s always looking for the next thing. That does not mean, however, that I don’t want to develop and get ahead. I have experienced a lot at NTS by now; collective bargaining, reorganizations, deepened my knowledge about legal matters, helped people getting new jobs at other employers, got new ones in, celebrated successes… You name it, I've done it. That variety makes my work challenging and fun, and I learn a lot from it.”
How does that translate into your daily activities?
'I have a full agenda but it is not rarely overtaken by the everyday events. My work presents itself. Occasionally you also have to create it yourself. Not that we are constantly watching everyone. But at times you hear something or just notice that someone's not doing very well. You store those signals and at some moment action is simply wise. In short, every day is different and also very difficult to plan. Unexpected things always happen.”
What do you think is at the heart of your work?
"HR is a supporting function. It's about helping our people. I really like that, not least because it can take many forms. Sometimes it's about the functioning of individual employees; assisting them in getting the best out of themselves and their work at NTS. At other times you look at the bigger picture, for example by talking to executives about their interaction with their team or its composition. HR is therefore - in addition to all kinds of practical matters - about aligning the needs of people and the organization.”
That sounds like a serving job...
“A lot has changed over the years. Other colleagues in HR may focus on the advisory and facilitating role that we increasingly play within NTS. They are right to do so. We shouldn't go too far in our care. That does not contribute to an optimal functioning company. The people in the workplace have their own responsibilities. To give an example: calling sick employees is firstly up to the team leaders. Knowing what's going on and showing interest is important for personal relationships, but also generates information that’s important for organizing the work. If there is really something going on and you don't know what to do - when procedures have to be initiated to prevent long-term absenteeism for instance - then of course we are here to get it done.”
Are those things easy to organize?
“It is only common sense to align the HR-policy throughout our organization; to work with the same rules and procedures for absenteeism, job scales, training, recruitment, and so on. However, many of our companies have their own history, culture and practices. So it's a process, something that should profit everyone in the end. Moreover, of course, it is simply good for the efficiency of NTS.”
And for the customers...
"Of course. Standstill is not part of NTS. We are developing continually, for example in technology, disciplines and methods. This way we are able to serve our customers optimally, and it’s how we all earn our living. However, this means that our people often have to deal with change, for example in the composition of teams and the way we work together in our group. In this respect creating as much uniformity as possible is only logical. The same applies to the various HR activities. They contribute to the functioning of our people and teams, and therefore the results. But the evolution of HR policy and how we practice that within NTS is also just about how we want to see each other and interact. NTS is all of us. We need to help each other to bring out the best. HR contributes to this, but our job satisfaction and success is a responsibility of everyone eventually.”