Honesty is the best policy for Leila Noterdaeme

  • Posted on February 8, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 8 minutes

Delivery Assistant Leila Noterdaeme is a bit of a daredevil and a firm believer in telling it like it is. When she is not focused on meticulously planning various projects at Avanade, she’s busy packing suitcases for her next trip. Leila’s adventurous side shows itself in both her approach to work and the time she devotes to family and friends. From making several bold career choices to going mountain biking in France and riding dirt bikes in Portugal, it’s all part of life for this optimistic straight-talking mom of two.

I’m passionate about travelling, so I studied hotel management in school. I started out as a receptionist at a large Brussels hotel, but soon got bored. When I eventually became an operational event manager, it felt like a dream come true. However, I soon realized that all my hard work was not rewarded by a healthy pay check at the end of the month. Moreover, I felt that the people in that line of work didn’t seem motivated to satisfy their customers or to put them first, which goes against everything I believe in. After a couple of years, I decided that this wasn’t the career path I wanted to follow for the rest of my life, so I started looking for new opportunities in other industries.

Dreams do not always come true
After my experience in the hotel industry, I realized that the problems I had faced all came down to the management. I needed to work more independently. I decided to go back to school to study nutrition. It was somewhat related to what I had done before (working in hotels, dealing with food) but would allow me to make my own decisions. To afford my studies, I searched for a well-paying part-time job that would allow me to make my classes my primary focus. A recruitment agency introduced me to an available delivery assistant position at Avanade. I was immediately keen to apply, and luckily, I was hired!

When I joined Avanade, my top priority was to become a nutritionist. But quickly, my job became increasingly important to me and I took on more responsibilities within my projects. I realized that I really enjoyed working for Avanade and my priorities shifted from nutrition to delivery. Even though my job at Avanade had kind of come out of the blue, after just six months I knew that I did not want to leave the company after graduation. However, getting that bachelor’s degree in nutrition while working is still one my proudest achievements!

Variety is the spice of life
Right now, I’m a delivery assistant working in ERP. I support all service delivery managers and project managers and am responsible for a great variety of administrative tasks. In other words, I step in from the beginning of the delivery and follow up on proceedings right up until the closure of the contract. I report back to our clients, attend status meetings and take minutes, make presentations, keep track of the budget, make adjustments in our internal follow-up system, prepare invoices, make sure our client data protection policy is followed, am involved with time registrations, and a variety of other tasks. I don’t focus on just one project; I’m involved in many projects simultaneously.

I love that my job entails a wide variety of tasks for various clients. I get to work with many different clients and must have a clear understanding of what each wants. I have a few key tasks that I always must do, but when I have the time I can also do ad hoc work, such as create new work orders or devise procedures for recurring tasks. I can manage my own agenda and work autonomously. If I stick to my deadlines and do my job well, I’m quite independent, which I absolutely adore.

’As long as I stick to my deadlines and do my job well, I’m actually quite independent – which I absolutely adore’

Avanade is constantly evolving: new people are joining, and new technologies and the latest methodologies are being implemented. When I was hired we had just about 60 employees in Belgium. Now our team consists of 135 people, and the office where I work in Merelbeke has recently been refurbished. On the other hand, Avanade is a very stable organization. We continue to have a productive working relationship with a lot of the same customers we had when I started out at the company. One constant is that our management is always eager to improve efficiency, meaning that working together effectively is crucial.

‘Working together and doing that well is crucial’

Since I started at Avanade in 2012, my own life has changed considerably. I became a mom to two boys, one is two and the other one just nine months old. My job is constantly evolving too, along with the needs of our clients, the types of clients, new policies and regulations. We adapt where necessary and are always looking to make our jobs more efficient.

I still see a lot of opportunity for me to grow and evolve within Avanade. As I’m efficient and well-organized, one of my goals is to become responsible for my own small projects, apart from the many ad hoc tasks I deal with. For instance, I’m currently following up on the GDPR transition; I truly enjoy managing a project like that from the very beginning to the end and want to pursue these sorts of tasks more in the future.

People come first
At Avanade, the client-first mentality is pervasive. If a client needs us, we will be there at the drop of a hat. It’s something everyone agrees on and is a common goal for us. To attain that goal, colleagues will jump in for each other and be supportive in any way they can; this is very different to my experiences earlier in my career.

We also build camaraderie with many outside events and activities organized by employees. We have Friday night drinks together, an annual New Year’s brunch and a skiing holiday. These informal get-togethers are always such fun and are a great way to get to know your colleagues outside of office hours. They encourage stronger connections between colleagues, which is undoubtedly beneficial on the job.

In addition to my work and my colleagues, what energizes me is travelling with my boyfriend and my two sons. We go on as many weekend trips as possible to beautiful locations like the Ardennes, London, Amsterdam, and Maastricht. Both my boyfriend and I enjoy shopping and do so whenever we’re in a big city. In summer we go away for longer amounts of time, visiting Portugal, the Alsace region and the Alps in France. Travelling helps me to clear my head and appreciate my work more.

Honesty is the best policy
What drives me professionally? Quite simply, the fact that I like my job. I’m surrounded by a lot of inspiring people here. I enjoy doing my job well, efficiently, punctually and with heaps of passion. But I will add, what has helped me most in my career so far is honesty. Being honest about what your professional goals are, where your priorities lie and how you see yourself within a company is a must. Every six months, all Avanade employees meet with our career advisors to review progress and goals; I always advise my colleagues to be honest in this meeting about their wants and needs We all need to reach targets and goals daily, but if you don’t think something is feasible, just communicate open and honestly. Try to make it work for yourself, as well as for your management and the company. I’m convinced honesty is the best policy in the end.

‘Being honest about what your professional goals are, where your priorities lie and how you see yourself within a company is a must’

Name: Leila Noterdaeme
Born: 22 September 1986
Studies: Hotel Management, followed by a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition & Dietetics
Started working at Avanade: October 2012
Relationship: I live with my boyfriend and children
Children: Two young sons
Loves: (Spending time with my) family, reading, shopping, travelling, going to the cinema, date night with my boyfriend
Hates: Inefficiency, laziness, bad drivers, stupid questions, unprofessional restaurant waiters
Favorite food: Chicory (cooked in all manner of ways)
Expert in (at university): Partying – I still love to party, though! Electronic music gets me going on the dancefloor: when it’s time to dance, I need to dance!
Expert in (at work): Organizing, planning, invoicing
On my nightstand: A night light, my mobile phone, and my son’s spare teddy bear
On my iPod: Studio Brussels, Radio 1
What gets me going in the morning: All aspects of my life are quite balanced: I get up in the morning to live and accept whatever life may bring.
Life changing events: Giving birth to my sons, and the moment my boyfriend was diagnosed with a tumor. It was a difficult time, but we listened to the doctors, picked the right treatment and just kept going.
Best lesson life has taught me so far: I always try to stay positive
What I learned last week: I don’t really like babies… Even though I absolutely adore my nine-month-old son, I’ve come to realize I prefer children who are a little bit older, so you can reason with them.
Most beautiful place on Earth: The Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina
Hobbies/passions: Travelling (my favorite holiday ever was my trip to Chile: such a gorgeous place, such variety, so many things to do – that trip was just perfect), but also cycling, walking, skiing, reading, eating out, and cooking.
What nobody knows about me: I’m kind of an open book, but you might be surprised to hear I was once attacked in Paris and almost lost my eye!
Role model: My father-in-law: he achieved a lot in his career in finance, but more importantly, he has a unique way with people. I’m not that great with people, so I’m inspired by the way he deals with others.
Life motto: Always look on the bright side of life!

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