"No matter how succesful a plan is, there's always room for improvement."

Sander Claassen

Unit Lead

Unit Lead

In 2013, during his master's in business administration, Sander Claassen did an internship at Ahold Delhaize. He was determined to follow this with the organization’s traineeship too, but life had other plans. “When I was told that the company wouldn’t take on new trainees that year, I was disappointed. But I was also more determined than ever to return.” And so, he made that happen. Eight years later, Sander is Unit Lead at Etos.  

As a young boy, Sander dreamed of a career as a professional soccer player. And by 13, he was well on his way to becoming one. He was asked to join Heerenveen, a club playing in the Dutch soccer league. For three years, he was picked up from school in his hometown of Flevopolder and driven 80km to Heerenveen for practice. He would train five days a week, followed by matches on Saturdays. This continued until he was 16, when his coach told him he just wasn’t good enough to play at the national level. “My dream was shattered. But being rejected turned my attention to my schoolwork, motivating me to do better there. I never stopped playing soccer, but no longer at a top level. Today, I play in a team of friends. Sometimes I miss the competitiveness that comes with professional sports, but I still love the game more than anything else.” 

Those three years in a professional sports environment also taught Sander an amazing amount of self-discipline and motivation. “On the field we always had to give 120% of ourselves. Our daily goal was to be better than the day before. That mentality and level of dedication has become ingrained in my mindset, and I don’t think it’ll ever go away.” 

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Always room for improvement 

This mindset also makes Sander very good at what he does. “As Category Manager, I’m tasked with analyzing data and using it to identify which products our customers like best. Armed with this information, I talk to our different suppliers and establish what we need to do to improve how we position their products, or strengthen their market share further. Together we think of a strategic plan to achieve certain goals. Are we highlighting the right product in the right place? Can we make the display more appealing? Are there enough products on the shelf? We have a ton of data that gives us all the insights we need to create impactful plans that ensure the best results for suppliers, our customers and Etos. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is rolling out these plans and seeing them work out successfully. But, and this is where I hear my soccer coach in my head, we can always do better. No matter how successful a plan is, there’s always room for improvement.”  

Part of why Sander likes the process of continuous improvement so much is because he has access to the most talented and skilled people to walk these journeys with. “I have worked at some renowned e-commerce companies. However, I have never before worked in an environment where I’m surrounded by so many experienced specialists who are all available to create and realize plans with me. Etos has specialists in every domain – marketing, logistics, finance and store communication, as well as in the Formula team and our Own Brand team – who literally know everything there is to know about their area of expertise. I think one of this company’s keys to success is that all these specialists get to work exclusively on their own area of specialization, enabling each and every one of them to excel at what they do.”  

 

It’s not all about winning 

It’s safe to say that Sander is competitive and results driven. But he’s much more than that too. “I like to think that I’m an easy and enjoyable person to work with. I hope colleagues see me as empathetic and genuinely interested in people, their stories and their opinions. I want to create a winning team that achieves the best results, but I am convinced that in order to do so, you need a personal touch, too. I’m empathetic and genuinely interested in people, their stories and their opinions. I like connecting with colleagues and chatting to them. This applies to my personal life too: I love spending time with friends and my girlfriend, Chantal. Especially going for dinner at a nice restaurant – that’s one of my favorite pastimes.”  

Until fairly recently, Sander’s friends and family often told him that he was too preoccupied with work. And they were right. But those days are gone. “Five months ago, our daughter, Florine, was born. She changed everything. Whatever I’m doing now, if her daycare calls to say that she needs to be picked up, I’m in my car. Becoming a dad has shifted my priorities big-time. Work is still very important and I’m still super ambitious, but now my family comes first.”  

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Name: Sander Claassen (1990) 

Started working at Etos: October 2021 

Studied: MA Business Administration (University of Amsterdam, 2016) 

Living with: My girlfriend, Chantal, and our daughter, Florine 

Hobbies: Sports, playing board games and going out for dinner  

Wake me up in the middle of the night for: You can definitely try, but I’m a really deep sleeper    

Favorite holiday destination: Barcelona 

Life-changing event: The birth of Florine 

Biggest source of inspiration: Roger Federer  

Best advice I’ve ever received: “Don't set the bar as high for others as you do for yourself”   

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