Let us introduce you to Anja Sejfic, who is – next to Team HR – also a member of Team Everything & Everywhere. While she lives in Barcelona, she’s in Rotterdam every other month as well. At least, if she’s not climbing mountains.
As our HR Business Partner, she speaks to everyone just about on a daily basis. Whether it’s in Dutch, Spanish or English: Anja has it covered. Heck, even if you would like to have a conversation in Bosnian, Anja is your go-to. And maybe even a word or two in Swedish.
But who is Anja? And what’s life like, being the first “official” in-house HR Employee in a scale-up called Rinkel?
Keep on reading to find out! We’ve asked her a bunch of questions.
What’s the first thing people think of when they hear your name?
Well, I currently live in Spain. Everyone here seems to think “How do I pronounce this…?!” So then I just watch them give it their best try. My name is not common (or better said: non-existent) here. But that only makes it fun for me to see what Spanish people do with it.
In the Netherlands, where I’ve lived for most of my life, people probably don’t think that much of my name. It’s quite common actually.
But I was born in Bosnia. My mom thought, at the time, that she gave me a very unique and exotic name. Little did she know we’d end up in the Netherlands, where “Anja” is not exotic at all.
But at least it was never difficult for Dutch people to pronounce my name!
(For reference: Phonetic pronunciation is “AHN-yah”)
Do you have a nickname in the office?
I don’t think so! Maybe I’m the first one without a nickname… Should I worry?
What is it exactly you do at Rinkel?
I’m doing basically anything, and everything related to HR and People.
Rinkel is growing, and the CEO Jeroen (who was previously handling all HR matters) needed to restructure his priorities. That’s where I came in.
I took over the HR matters from him, and touch all aspects of People Operations. And that’s also what I love about this role! Sometimes I’m creating strategies or researching legal matters, and other times I’m doing more administrative tasks like booking flights or hotels.
In the end, it’s my job to make sure that all of my colleagues feel good about Rinkel as an employer, and are happy in their work here.
What problem or frustration from customers are you eager to solve?
In HR, your customers are your colleagues, as well as the business.
It’s my responsibility to ensure an employee is and stays the right fit for their role, and that the business offers the best working environment for its employees.
Because of the broad scope of my role, the things that I intend to solve vary from a parking spot for the day to a long-term company benefit.
The customer that I solve things for is either a colleague or the business, and the goal is always to have both thrive at the same time.
What do you like most about working at Rinkel?
Well, my enthusiasm for Rinkel started even during my first interview with Jeroen and Jesper, the ‘founding fathers’. I believe the founders lay a foundation for the company culture, and while HR plays a big role in redefining things when needed, it makes all the difference when you’re on the same page, and get the freedom and trust to do your job.
What I'm trying to say is that I love Rinkel's transparent, open and relaxed company culture. It reflects Jeroen and Jesper’s values, and this is a great starting point for an HR-employee to work from (and for any other employee as well of course).
Apart from the ‘founding fathers’, I was excited about the product, the ambition, the colleagues, and the fact that the Rinkel HQ is in my hometown: Rotterdam!
What do you like most about Team HR?
For now the team is just me, myself, and I, but I’ve felt very welcomed by all of my colleagues from the start. I’m also in touch with many of them on pretty much a daily basis!
I love working as part of a team, and like to have a sparring partner for loads of things. But I also enjoy the flexibility of working on my own. For the sparring part, I have Jesper and Jeroen.
Do you have a lifehack on how to stay focused?
This is not my strongest side, but over time I’ve learnt to pick up on my own signs more, and go easy on myself.
I used to want to finish everything so badly, that I wouldn’t get up until it was done. That resulted in being behind my desk a lot, but never at maximum productivity.
Now, I try to get up and take a break when I see I’m not being productive. Or accept that today was not my best day, but tomorrow is a new day.
I do have to mention that Rinkel’s relaxed company culture has contributed a lot, giving me the freedom to work on these things.
Who inspires you?
A lot of people, but I’m going to go for my grandfather.
He was (and is) my favorite person in the world for many reasons, including his wisdom, humor, warmth, and attitude towards setbacks.
What’s your favorite quote?
Difficult one! I don’t think I know a lot of quotes, actually. The first one that pops up right now is:
What’s your favorite office saying?
In our Barcelona office, this still has to emerge, since we’ve only just grown into a full-sized team here.
And I need to visit the Rotterdam office more to be able to choose a favorite quote.
I know “Eten?” is popular. Everything revolves around lunchtime there (which is usually breakfast for me!)
If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be and why?
I’ve always wondered what the average day of a president, or other country leader looks like.
I just can’t believe they have the same 24 hours in a day as me.
Or maybe I’d like to be someone extremely rich who doesn’t have to do anything at all, and gets lost in their own house. Just for a day.
What is your archetype?
Of course – we couldn’t not ask Anja this question! Well, turns out she is mostly caregiver, with intellectual and visionary in the mix as well.
That means she’s friendly and compassionate, eager to ask engaging questions and envisions new ideas and solutions.
Sounds like a perfect match for anyone in HR! Other caregivers include Reese Witherspoon and Angelina Jolie.
What’s your favorite holiday destination?
Such a difficult question! I’ve been going to Sweden all my life. Part of my family lives there, so it has a special place to me.
In recent years I’ve also fallen in love with Mexico (especially the Oaxaca region), but I also loved visiting Japan, Cuba, the Philippines, Myanmar, and Borneo. Oh, and South Korea and Taiwan. I’m probably forgetting a few places still.
What’s your favorite drink?
I notice I’m having a hard time choosing, so I’m naming a few that I love:
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love spending time with my friends, going out for a drink after work, or doing an activity or going on a trip during the weekend. But I’m also happy to just be at home, and watch a movie or series every now and then.
Besides that, I enjoy taking walks, so I often choose the “benenwagen” (as we say in the Netherlands) as a means of transport.
I think talking can be classified as one of my hobbies too, so I guess I like to walk & talk. But I also try to work out every now and then. There’s definitely room for improvement there though. Working on it!
Do you have any fun fact that you'd like to share?
In Borneo I climbed a mountain once: Mount Kinabalu. I didn’t really know what I was getting into, and it turned out to be a very special experience.
I thought I had booked a group activity but I was actually given a private guide. His name was Francis, and he would walk behind me the whole climb so that it would be at my pace. Sometimes we would chat, and sometimes we'd just walk in silence. Most of the climb it was just me and him (we didn't run into many people), and apparently we walked fast enough to reach the top on the first day already! We climbed over 17 kilometers in two days, and reached the 4095-meter peak in 6.5 hours.
I know this is not the world's best mountain climb (lol), but I was very proud of myself afterwards. So yeah, I climbed a mountain!