In this edition of Inside Benemen, we’re excited to talk to Rudi Oosterveld. Rudi has been working at Benemen since 2013. Flash forward to today and after over seven years at the company, Rudi is now the Head of Pre-Sales in our Stockholm office. He and his team are working on establishing Benemen in the Swedish market.
To learn a little more about his career journey, here are the questions we had for Rudi. Ready? Let’s go ✨
Can you tell me about your career journey until you joined Benemen? What drew you to Benemen initially?
I think as it often happens in life, there were a lot of coincidences that I can now connect like dots looking back. I was working at AT&T Unisource in the Netherlands, a telecom joint venture. We had our own telephony network spanning all of Europe and on top of that, we wanted to provide intelligent voice services for our clients.
One of the ideas was to create a contact center solution that lives in the cloud. Network-based contact center solutions would allow us to get closer to the customers. We would deliver voice services as well as the software that runs on the agents’ desktops.
We heard about this Finnish internet telephony firm called Wicom that was founded by the people who later started Benemen. Together with them, we built a pilot and successfully delivered a Wicom-based solution that was hosted in our data centers.
At the same time, my wife and I talked about moving to Sweden because we loved spending our summer holidays there. Within six weeks after that conversation, we sold our house and decided to take the leap.
I mentioned our relocation plans to the sales manager at Wicom, who told me they actually had a job opening in Sweden. They only had one employee there at the time and I would become the second. So I started there in 2004 and then the story continued with SAP acquiring Wicom in 2007. I worked at SAP until 2013.
Jouni Purontaus, one of the Wicom founders, got back in touch with me and asked if I would consider joining them again to do something similar to what we had done before. They now had a new business running in Finland and were looking for someone to help them go international. So I joined Benemen in September 2013 as their International Business Development Executive. This time I was employee number one in Sweden.
Let’s zoom in on your journey since November 2018 when you became Head of Pre-Sales? What did that look like?
In November 2018, when Matti Heikkonen joined as the new CEO, he went back to the drawing board and with a new focus prepared ourselves for the next round of internationalisation. The goal was to focus on Sweden first, and when the business is successfully established there, we would consider Denmark, Norway, and other countries.
In early 2020 we started recruiting two Salespeople for our newly opened Stockholm office. We successfully recruited two Senior Account Executives in a fully remote hiring process because of the pandemic.
When they started in August 2020, we took them to Helsinki where we held a kick-off week. We had an event with 40 people in a big auditorium that would normally hold 250 people, so everyone could keep their distance and be safe. Some people joined remotely.
I assume there have been quite a few changes from a leadership and product offerings perspective since you joined. How has Benemen developed as a company?
In addition to focusing on different offerings like call centers, mobile and unified communications we focus on adding value in today’s omni-channel world and improving the overall customer experience. So we’re knocking out all traditional silos and replacing them with a modern cloud-based solution. If you can help businesses achieve their goals and still do that cost-efficiently, that really resonates with the top decision-makers.
Another clear difference is our strong approach with ecosystems like Microsoft and Salesforce. By bringing our voice capabilities into these partner ecosystems, we can reach a wide audience and leverage the existing cloud platforms in different use case scenarios.
Would you say that Benemen has shifted from the traditional technology-based offerings to value-based offerings?
Yes, that sums it up well. I think that Benemen’s mantra from the early years still rings true today. The mantra being the entire company can be the call center. Or you can rephrase it and say that everybody is working toward the success of the customer.
If you look at it further, it means you have to include not only your customer care people and the people in the office but also the mobile staff who are out and about. It’s important that if you take a sales call while being on the road, it also populates into Salesforce of Microsoft CRM.
What excites you most in your role, and what kicks you out of bed in the morning?
A couple of weeks back I saw a quote by Simon Sinek which I liked and that resonated with me personally. He said, “Life is beautiful not because of the things we see or do. Life is beautiful because of the people we meet.“
And that’s important for me. I want to be surrounded by people who are fun to work with. For me historically, that have always been international environments where you speak a couple of different languages a day.
I believe in our mantra first of all. I still believe that’s very spot on. I believe we are not just technologically ahead of the curve, but also visionaries. It’s the belief in the future.
How do you describe the culture at Benemen? Any favourite things about the Stockholm office?
In our Swedish team, we are all totally different, but the three of us combined work very well together. That's where good leadership and management come in. It’s like getting a balanced team out on the football field. You don't need eleven goalkeepers. You need a team of unique characters who all play to their strengths. As the manager, it’s the most important task to align them and make sure they win the game.
A few rapid-fire questions. Who would play you in a movie about your life?
I don’t think there will be such a movie. *Laughs* But if I have to name someone, I’m going to go with Brad Pitt.
What is your dream car?
Ferrari 250 GT SWB (Short Wheel Base).
If you could trade lives with anyone for a day, who would it be and why?
Last July when I was in France I almost got jealous of my own son, who moved there. Everything was so relaxed, he has his whole life ahead of him and made a brilliant decision.
If I could change jobs for a day, I would love to be a blues guitarist. Like Joe Bonamassa. I would love to play guitar like him. I’d be more than happy to swap my life with him for a day and go on tour.
Sometimes when I travel to meetings abroad, it almost feels like going on a mini-tour. You have your laptop case–which is not as cool as a guitar case, but still. You travel there, then you have your meeting and you hope the gig goes well. And on the way back to the airport, you feel a bit like you’re coming back from a performance.
These are the days I love. You give everything in these thirty minutes, but you start mentally preparing a day in advance and on the way there. Sadly, this is impossible at the moment. Now you switch on the computer and boom, you’re in the meeting.
Big thanks to Rudi for sharing his insights with us! Follow him on Twitter to stay in the loop on what’s new in the world of voice.
Want to join Rudi on the Benemen team? We’re hiring. Check out our open roles here.
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