“I come from a real working-class family; when after finishing junior secondary school I said I didn’t want to carry on in formal education, my parents said OK but they demanded that I should look for a job straight-away. So I went to the job centre on the Monday, got an interview on the Wednesday and reported to work at NLO on the Thursday. But I also had to complete my final paper round that month. My mother insisted on it; I was always taught to do my best and finish whatever I’d started.
As NLO’s youngest post-boy, I took round the post and looked up files for people. A couple of years later a vacancy arose in the renewal fees department, so I moved across and am still there to this day. Although more and more tasks are being automated, you’ve got to be constantly on the ball in this job, weeding out incorrect assumptions and thinking proactively with the client so they don’t miss any opportunities. That can give you a satisfied client, but it can also occasionally lead to stressful situations.
My chief relaxation comes from playing softball. After 30 years of playing and coaching, I still get a real kick from the psychological challenge of ‘1 against 9’ and the skill and speed of pitching. At the moment I’m mentoring a pitcher whose technique is brilliant. I occasionally wonder what he could achieve if he had the same drive as I had; he’s very laid-back about his talent... Though to be fair, I wouldn’t describe myself as fanatical. I set high standards, but only apply them to myself. I once spent a whole year coaching an extremely unpromising girls’ softball team. We lost every match but made up for it by having the greatest fun. As a result, we all had a fantastic season!
I’m a great advocate of team sports; they teach you how to work together and motivate each other. In the late 1990s I was made team coordinator at NLO, which is also like being a kind of coach. Over the years, I’ve learned that you have to make allowances for different personalities. And ensure that you run a happy office. I take my work very seriously, but you’ve got to have fun now and then. For instance, by organising an extra-curricular activity such as running a betting pool on the World Cup. A couple of championships ago, one of the managers had the idea of linking each department to one of the competing countries. We ended up cheering the England team with bowler hats on, and the accounts department supported the French team by playing boules. That’s the kind of thing I really enjoy. So it’s not surprising I’ve stayed at NLO for as long as I have!”
2018 was a special year as it’s the year NLO celebrated its 130th anniversary. Over all those years, there’s one specific element that really forms the core of our firm; our people. Professionals who put all their effort in helping clients in any way they can. However, they are far more than IP professionals. We would like to give you some insight in the real people behind NLO. We proudly introduce to you some of our colleagues. This Thursday: Fred van Veen.