TNT Arnhem Operasyon Departmanı’nda Servis Merkezi Müdürü olarak görev yapan Bas Meijer, Fransa – Alpe d’Huez’de, KWF (Dutch Cancer Society) adına bağış toplamak için çıktığı zorlu, fakat bir o kadar da gurur verici bisiklet yolculuğunu, TNT’deki göreviyle bağdaştırarak anlatıyor.
On 5 June 2014, my day started at 2 a.m. with a plate of macaroni for breakfast. Sound unusual? It was for me too, although I had been looking forward to it for months. With a group of friends, we set out to the starting line to cycle up the Alpe d’Huez mountain in France, an ascent of more than 1,000 metres known for its 21 hairpin turns.
I’ve had a racing bike in my garage for quite a while, but hardly ever used it until two years ago when I was cycling with a group of friends and really started to enjoy it. One of them enthusiastically told me about the Alpe d’Huez initiative to collect money for the KWF, a national organisation for cancer-related work in Holland. I wanted to be there.
Working as Service Centre Manager for our depot in Arnhem, I’m responsible for operations in the central and eastern parts of The Netherlands. I manage a team of 130 people. We’re constantly working to ensure on-time pick-up and delivery in perfect condition in compliance with all health & safety, environment, security and customs regulations.
During my experience in the Alpe d’Huez event, I found many connections with my work at TNT Express. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of my team and family. But what really kept me cycling were qualities like perseverance and healthy competitiveness – what I count on at work to succeed. I love my job because I work with people all day. Especially in these challenging times with all the changes, it’s vital to work together as a team and stay focused. In my job I immediately see the results of my efforts – just like I do on the bike.
A typical day doesn’t exist and that’s what I like. My work is dynamic with myriad responsibilities. I’m busy with day-to-day activities but also involved in projects and optimising processes, all supported by cross-functional cooperation with Sales and Customer Service to constantly improve our customer experience. I often need to improvise to resolve unexpected issues. I’ve learned to set fewer objectives but to finish them well. Giving up is not an option.
That’s the principle that drove me to attempt the legendary Alpe d’Huez climb. The preparations were fierce. I did some 2,500 kilometres in training, and with a busy job and a family that’s quite a challenge. But I had to do it because I’m not a natural climber by a long shot. During the event, I was competing with men who were 20 to 30 kilos lighter. But my daily routine helped me to prepare. I’ve been cycling to work since March, and my route includes a loop with a nice uphill grade in the Posbank area, where every ascending metre was a bonus in my training plan.
The day of the event we travelled to the start in the early hours. We cycled through the mist in the dark, past candles burning in the bends for those who are fighting cancer. That image will remain etched in my memory. I had opted for a hotel on top of the mountain instead of in the valley. This proved to be a wise decision, because my goal was to finish four climbs, and this pushed me to attempt five (participants can complete up to six). The first two climbs went smoothly, but the third was tough. When I reached the top after the fourth climb, I’d achieved my goal so I was very emotional. But I was hungry for more. I knew if I cycled down I would have to climb again anyway to get to my hotel. So I did the fifth climb.
With Alpe d’Huez – as at work – I’m convinced that success depends on sticking to the decisions we make. At work this starts with making decisions by listening carefully to people, evaluating the consequences and acting on them as team. Of course, we review the decision after a period of time and adapt. But by making the goal clear to everyone and showing how everything we do contributes to our strategy, people see the whole picture and go the extra mile. In my experience this has boosted our productivity, reduced unit costs and most importantly, helped us deliver better service to customers.
Alpe d’Huez was a magnificent experience. If I can I’ll be there again next year, aiming for six climbs. After all, there’s always room for improvement. Working hard, testing my limits and aiming for the best are the things that drive me when I’m cycling and at work. Operations is at the heart of our company and with the support of strategic initiatives like Perfect Transaction we are getting service quality back on track. Combine this with our orange spirit and we are unbeatable.