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Nik Vries: Finance is the last safety net before data, money or anything else leaves the company

A lot goes into creating well-performing and balanced finance processes at a startup. From processing invoices and payments to performing reports and ensuring reliable monthly figures.

And this is where Nik, our Financial Controller comes in with his laser attention to detail and passion for putting things in order.

He just celebrated his first anniversary at ChainCargo and is ready to share his experience of what it feels like to build a Finance department in a startup.

First, could you tell more about your role, how does your casual day at ChainCargo look?

I'm the Financial Controller of ChainCargo. We are currently evolving from a startup to a scale-up. Due to this, it's hard to define a casual day because every day has new aspects which make working for a startup much more attractive.

Building finance from scratch in a startup must be challenging. Can you share the most “bumpy” moment at ChainCargo? How did you solve it?

It sure is, and the first thing that comes to mind is the growth in the amount of in and outbound invoices. Before this job, I worked for a multination listed company, and although a lot changed while working there, the changes happened at a much slower pace. I remember in my first month at ChainCargo, I had to manually process around 100 inbound invoices in one month, which was doable in combination with other tasks I have as a Financial Controller. But in the next month, this went to 200 and the month after to 350. It was shocking, and I realised I needed a quick solution. Due to the current job market, automation was the logical step. We implemented an application that scans and fills in a lot of the data and currently saves hours of work each day.

And what about the fun things, what makes you tick?

I think the saying "Work hard, play hard” comes to mind. I enjoy working together with my colleagues and building ChainCargo into an insane success story. Next to that, I think a good balance between work and social life is especially important to be able to make the most out of your life. Luckily looking at our young and enthusiastic team, they also enhance my social life! Having a good laugh at (and after) work is important, which happens daily. It makes staying at ChainCargo an easy decision, which is key because, in my opinion, the workforce is the company's biggest asset.

Let's talk a bit more about your colleagues, how many other teams do you work with? Do you find it easy to get access to the information you need?

I always see the Finance department as the last safety net before data, invoices, money, or anything else leaves the company. Therefore, it's important, to always be in touch with every department up until a certain level. Of course, Sales, Marketing, and Operations are important when communicating with our suppliers and customers. Our Development and Engineering team makes our everyday lives a bit easier with new features and automation. Also, regular updates about the business must be shared with Management and the investors. Together with HR I regularly communicate about changes in our workforce.

As mentioned before, we are a startup, so sometimes processes including gathering information can be a bit off. But there have been so many improvements in just one year I've been working for ChainCargo, that I'm sure we will handle any other obstacles that come our way.

You worked as a chef a while ago, do you ever cook for your teammates?

I have mentioned this number of times to my colleagues, and I have still not delivered my promise to cook for them. The person conducting this interview is one of the colleagues that I promised to. So, as the reader can see, we do value the promises that we make within the company!

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