#ProudConnector Unveiled: Birgit De Smedt | Partner HR
What is your function within YouConnect?
I joined the company as a Partner at the end of 2018 and founded the HR business line. The services we offer at YouConnect HR is Interim Management & Recruitment and Selection of HR profiles.
What did you do before you started at YouConnect?
I worked for more than 25 years for a multinational HR provider, where I managed, developed and founded several departments. My role combined the responsibilities of people management and account management.
What attracted you to your role within YouConnect?
The entrepreneurial challenge of founding a new business in a small, strong and value-driven niche company with a team that aims high.
What is your daily motivation?
To make an effective difference for my clients, candidates and colleagues. That sounds like a platitude, but that really is what I stand for every day.
What do you think are the most important skills a recruitment consultant should have?
Experience, but also healthy curiosity, empathy, listening skills, humility, courage, perseverance, a real interest in people and a focus on results.
How can you describe the atmosphere among your colleagues at YouConnect?
Professional, helpful, ambitious and warm.
What do you find important in the contact with candidates and clients?
Sincerity! Communicating clearly what you can and cannot do – what the client and candidate can and cannot expect.
What are your ambitions within YouConnect?
YouConnect is a strong team of talented, experienced professionals. In recent years, we gained the trust of a carefully built clientele for the placement of legal experts. In terms of legal interim management & legal search, we are in a top position on the Belgian market. The HR business line was set up according to exactly the same high-quality standards we maintain with our legal professionals. My ambition is clear: to also become one of the major players within the foreseeable future. We receive strikingly good feedback from clients and candidates, so I know: acting consistently and correctly, we’ll achieve that goal.
What is your favorite season and why?
Spring, especially the moment when everything bursts into blossom – with the Japanese Cherry as the absolute queen. It’s like festive garlands have suddenly been hung in the streets. From my home, I have a beautiful view of one of those trees, and every year, I look forward with excitement to the moment when the blossoms explode.
What was your last online purchase?
What is your favorite Eurovision hit song?
"Ding-a-dong" by Teach In. Flashback to March 1975, my first Eurovision Song Contest experience. I found the song magical and was absolutely thrilled when The Netherlands won the Contest with this song. Being nine years old at the time, I sung it enthusiastically to everyone I met. Just a month later my father gave me a turntable as a birthday gift, together with a vinyl record with the winning song on it. Pure bliss!
What is your strongest sense?
Feeling. However much I try to objectify everything, "feeling" is a very valuable sense for me. Combined with "communication", it can lead to special results. Your own feelings, and questions to employees about what they feel, offer insights into how others function compared to yourself.
Do you hold on to certain rituals? And if so, what are they?
I associate rituals with religion, which is particularly far from me. I do have certain routines, that helps me to go into concentration mode in my job. Did you ever read the Obama interview where he says "always wear the same suit"? I love that. The approach is to avoid putting energy into trivial matters so you can focus on what’s crucial to your job. To make sure that your mental energy remains free to focus on what really matters.
What’s guaranteed to get you annoyed?
Noise. Loud talking. Superficiality. Micromanagement. And people who are quick to push their trollies past you to get to the new cash register that’s just opened in the supermarket –that and other equally anti-social behavior.
What moves you?
Films, music, photos of my children when they were little. But, just as often, touching scenes from everyday life.
What was your last holiday destination?
The Ardennes! And it was blissful. Hours of walking through a beautiful area so close. The last big trip we did was with our six children along the West Coast of the USA. All together in a van, or big bus, I should say. Now that was a truly memorable trip.
Which 3 words describe you best?
Results, impatient, and hiking.
What is your favorite spot and what can you find there?
On a mountainside. You can hear the sound of mountain streams, birdsong, and the rustling of the trees.
What is your favorite city and why?
Paris. Until recently, I went to Paris every year with my children, and right now my son is there for an Erasmus project. The city will always occupy a special place in my heart.
Which book do you think everyone should read?
“Humankind, a hopeful history” by Rutger Bregman. A pure shot of positivity.