DISCOVER Magazine #7

Five key values: a compass for finding new recruits

Published in category: People

The question is intriguing:

How to keep the unique characteristics of a Gorinchem based family owned shipyard while the organisation has become a multinational employing over 7,000 people around the globe?

Although the Damen Group may look like a group of small and medium sized enterprises, each having its own identity and running its own business, they are actually all One Damen Family and this is a core strength of the Group. The statement in Damen’s Policy Plan cannot be misunderstood: “This company is built by people selling and building ships and services. The unique culture of entrepreneurship and business thinking combined with a ‘can-do’ mentality is why we are so successful.

Recognition, stimulation and cultivation of this unique culture are also key for future success.


Damen stands for challenging jobs, personal and professional development, and for numerous career opportunities. And above all it should be fun to work for Damen. Committed and happy people work five times harder.

Human Resources Director Arold de Vries, who joined Damen in October 2011 after having worked for multinational enterprises like Shell and Vopak, found a wide range of HR-practices within Damen. From a historical point of view this was no surprise to him. In order to facilitate the ambitions of the Damen Shipyards Group, HR needs to shift from local optimisation towards integral solutions. ‘One Damen’ also holds good for HR.

Doesn’t this interfere with local entrepreneurship and freedom one might ask? De Vries is very clear about this. “It’s all about freedom within a framework. The more clarity about a common framework the more freedom remains. Nobody likes to reinvent the wheel. Besides that it is just common sense to collaborate on HR subjects like recruitment, employer branding and people development. Building professional centres of expertise not only works for the business. It also works for HR.”


Building a Groupwide HR strategy and oganisation is a ‘Greenfield’ operation within Damen, and opportunities are widespread. “One can really build up a new way of doing things. 2012 has been the year of a series of important new initiatives. A Damen Employee Survey has been held, Leadership Development programmes have been rolled out and the first Damen Business Course took place in October. We also started talent reviews to spot future leaders and several Academies for professional development are currently under construction.”

With everything HR does we keep five core values in mind

De Vries underlines:

  • International
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Teamwork
  • Versatility
  • Innovative

“These key values are leading in HR campaigns. Damen is clearly a hi-tech organisation in which we strive towards further professionalisation. Today, we are building our plan and our HR-organisation for the future.


“The focus of 2013 will be to further improve and expand the initiatives we launched. A new Recruitment Standard will be in place to deliver a high quality selection of the best people.
A Damen leadership profile will be available so we will be able to develop our workforce and to start succession management for our key positions. Mid-year Development Reviews will be started to provide feedback for our people and to give guidance for development plans. More Leadership and Management Development Programmes will be available. And we will further develop our Employer Brand using social media.

“Professionalisation also means that we need to look at how we do things in HR. We will change our HR structure slightly in order to strengthen our business focus through dedicated HR-business partners and to grow our profession through specialism. We will also assess our HR-performance against benchmark data. Quite an ambitious agenda but necessary in order to facilitate the growth of the business and to create a good working environment for all Damen employees.”

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