WIBA IT 10 years! Time for a personal interview with Anne Willeboordse!

WIBA IT – FOUNDER | His company celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, but Anne Willeboordse would almost have forgotten about it because of his workaholism and says: ‘I never stop when I have achieved a goal or a milestone. I always want to help the next customer right away and to the next milestone ‘.
Tijd voor een persoonlijk interview met Anne Willeboordse
Every week, Anne makes about seventy workhours. A few days from home in Rotterdam and then again from the heart of Rotterdam, where the office of WIBA IT is located. In the meantime, he is currently reflecting on what he has achieved; the 10-year jubilee of his company.

“Yes, this is a bit of a proud moment, one about which I never dared dream, I wasn’t looking this far ahead! At the time, I was working for my last employer, where I worked  a lot of hours. The company was viewed as a veritable cash cow, a vision and philosophy I did not agree with at the time. Together with my colleagues, I knew that a crisis was about to hit. We tried to make it through the crisis as best as we could. Or course we hoped it would all be over quickly but, as everyone knows now, it took longer than people thought at first.”

While the question is asked about how he was 10 years ago as a person (something that, according to the WIBA IT staff, is difficult to trace), we see a smile emerge at Anne and he says:

“Haha, I was still a young boy of about 24 years old. Ignorant, still a lot to learn, but also naïve. And those aspects have left their mark in the sense of doing first and then thinking about my deciscion. This ensures that I dare to take risks where others do not or less quickly. This has given me the opportunity to be always a step ahead of others over the past decade. I like to believe that others saw me as a stubborn and hard worker. The company where I was working at that time was a hardcore technical company and I and my colleagues were seen as the ‘fast guys’. The technicians there were often glued to the screen. Together with my companion I then provided some joy in the office. This was very much appreciated, because it broke the icy working atmosphere. “

Anne looks back with the questions raised on how that work experience helped him to establish WIBA IT. Are there, for example, similarities with the company he first worked for?

“Well, no, actually the complete opposite. The employer who I worked for then had people on the payroll who he needed to outplace, that was his capital, sitting at home doing nothing. That’s why they had to be placed. As a sales man, I wanted to help the client as best as possible, preferably for the long term, but that was impossible, because, rather than finding the perfect match, we had to sell those people on the payroll, which affected the quality and led to missed opportunities. Having to push people like that was one of the main reasons for starting my own company. I noticed that quality is almost always decisive. That’s why WIBA It has an external network, that we can use to find the perfect match for our clients.”

“I have to say that, during the initial phase, our focus was more on bringing the best people with us, with the same opinion about the vision of the company I had left. They were lining up to join me. But, as you can probably guess, my old employer wasn’t pleased at all about that. We had a serious discussion about that and that scared some people off, which was disappointing. Still, I wanted to work with the best people, which is one of the reasons I work with interim specialists. By using interim IT specialists, you aren’t completely independent, something I did want to be. That’s why, at some point, we said: “enough with this, we will be completely independent!”

“That’s when I felt I was standing on my own two feet”

WIBA IT stands for independence and quality. But now that we are talking about the start-up phase, what is actually the first real milestone that you have achieved with the company?

“So hey, that is really a difficult question for me! Because one of my worst points is that I never think about it if I have achieved a goal or a milestone. I always want to help the next customer right away and move on to the next milestone or target. But now that I am really thinking about this, the first employee is a nice milestone, but the biggest step that I made, and what I am most proud of, is buying out my partner. I learned a lot from this whole process, because this did not go smoothly. I really felt that I was on my own feet and it was really up to me to make it happen. My partner was already an entrepreneur at the time and from the outside the idea was often that I was carrying on his knowledge of his entrepreneurship. Because of this, I think I did show that I really succeeded and here we are now 10 years later! “
We are now talking about buying out your partner, what was the cause of this? And why did you decide to continue without a partner and not to look for a new one?

“It is indeed great to have a partner, but they need to be fully committed. And as I said before, he was already an entrepreneur before we started WIBA IT, which meant he had other interests that took him further and further away from WIBA IT. At some point, I realized he no longer added value to the company and I decided to buy him out. But if he had been fully committed, we could still have been partners. When I bought him out, we were still in the middle of the crisis and we were still dealing with the discussion I mentioned earlier. At that time, I wasn’t thinking about finding another partner and I couldn’t imagine running the company with anyone other than myself.”

“Without her, WIBA IT wouldn’t have been the company that it is today and I wouldn’t have been the person I am today.”

It often goes well in a company, but of course you also have to deal with lesser moments, what is a moment where you might see it a bit gloomy?

“I am really a positive person and with me the glass is always half full, because I see opportunities and opportunities even in lesser moments. And if it really goes downhill, I see that as a challenge to get back on top. But if I really need to mention something that gives me less energy, it is the entire law and regulation debacle. For example, with the DBA Act that was just a real downer. A lot of time, money and effort had to be put in and in the end that was for nothing. For this law, a number of things had to change within the operational management. After this had been arranged, it turned out that the introduction of the law did not take place in its entirety. That, together with the passing on of these constant changes to the freelancers and customers, are things I do not like. “

But what is really a setback that you went through with the company? And how did you overcome that personally?

“A real low point was the whole discussion that ended up in court with my employer at the time. Which I didn’t win on my own, but together with my girlfriend. She was in the thick of it all, including the disappointments. We had just bought a house and, because of the court case, they froze our bank account. And that’s never easy on a relationship. But, to this day, she continued to believe in me. Without her, WIBA IT wouldn’t have been the company that it is today and I wouldn’t have been the person I am today.”

From the sensitive side back to the business side. We are going a few years further in time and WIBA IT has grown incredibly hard in the last 10 years. What do you think is really the biggest change the company has seen?

“Actually, major changes take place every year, in particular professionalisation. We have walked around here for a long time with 3 to 4 people. Then you sit close together and you know everything and what they are doing. Now the company is growing so that I do not know anything about it anymore. I am no longer in the office every day, I do not hear all the discussions and even have my own room in the office. But this is only possible because the growth of the company is made possible by competent people whom I trust. This growth entails all kinds of changes. From moving from the head office of Goes to Rotterdam to the automation of our business processes. The move from the office to Rotterdam is the biggest physical change. With the growth of the company, I naturally naturally also became busier. I was a person who wanted to keep the reins and wanted to know everything. Because of the growth I have been able to let go of things and entrust them to the people who work with me. I have also learned that my path is not always the right one and that the opinions, skills and views of others on matters are essential for the growth of myself and the company. I think this is a very nice process to see and learn from. “
We already mentioned the milestones at the start of the company. But what results have been achieved lately that made you become really happy and proud?

“There are a lot of moments that I am very proud of. For instance, the 100 placements we reached not long ago. We were getting close to that point as a team, and we finally managed to do it. In addition, we set a growth target each year, and so far have always been able to exceed our targets. And I can go on, but to summarize it, you can say I am very proud of what the team has been able to achieve. For instance landing clients that I haven’t personally met, or coming up with ideas and innovations that I myself would never think of.”

“My girlfriend says: you are basically a workaholic.”

It is still a bit far away, but how do you see WIBA IT in ten years?

“I think, or at least that I hope, that WIBA IT is still more independent of me. And maybe an extra branch elsewhere in the country. In addition, I hope and hope that the growth that we experience can keep communication at the same level as it is now. With this growth, I hope to open other business units in other markets than the IT market and let go of the WIBA concept here. Maybe we can better serve our clients by doing cross selling.”
Besides the fact that the company itself undergoes a transformation, the person behind the company also changes in ten years. How do you see yourself in ten years? Do you take a step back and take some more free time?

“My girlfriend always says: you are basically a workaholic, and it is what you like doing. So I am afraid it will be difficult to take a step back. Perhaps I will take more time off during school holidays, to spend more time with my children. Other than that, I wouldn’t change as a person. I am who I am and I don’t expect I will suddenly be a different person 10 years from now. I learn through trial and error, that’s what I have always done, and that’s who I want to pass it on.”

It may be clear that WIBA IT continues to grow and that there are many positive developments. If you want to stay up to date on those developments, follow WIBA IT on LinkedIn and Facebook.