Careers - 01 November 2017

Our CEO talks to Business Life about his likes, dislikes, personal anecdotes and career advice

Jersey's popular magazine, Business Life, caught up with Michel van Leeuwen. From first jobs to worst jobs and whether his vote goes to tea or coffee, get to know our CEO a little bit more.

Tea or coffee?

I like both, but prefer coffee. I order specialty beans and have a very nifty beans-to-cup machine at home. I also introduced this to our company, as they were still commiting the sacrilege of drinking instant!

Favourite song?

Soul and R&B mostly, although I do like Fleetwood Mac, especially their song Don't Stop.

What's the most amazing place you've visited?

A great many, as I was an avid diver and instructor and wanted to see it all. Rangiroa in Tahiti, Palau in Melanesia, and Cocos Island rank at the top.

Scariest thing that's ever happened to you?

Being chased out of the water by some very interested silky sharks near Cocos Island.

Your best quality?

In my role, opening up the decision-making frame to others and not having to be the architect of the best decision.

The worst thing about you?

As with most people I know, I should probably listen more than I speak - but as I'm always full of energy and ideas, it remains difficult to change.

Cats or dogs?

Cats, most definitely. A cat makes you earn its love and attention.

Favourite actor?

Sir Anthony Hopkins.

First job you had?

As a spry 12-year-old, I helped out in my uncle's storage company. We provided all the food and drink to any ship that visited my hometown port. A tough job, but it paid well and had definite fitness benefits.

Worst job you've done?

Cleaning out a Danish fishing boat lifted off the seabed after three months underwater. It sank with its hold full of fish, so you can imagine the smell a few days after it came up! It paid extremely well though.

Favourite item of clothing?

I'm actually not too bothered about clothes, though I do like a good suit. Not too good - if you know what I mean - but comfortable and not too wrinkly.

Sweet or savoury?

Alas, both. I need to stop though because too much is not a good thing.

Can you play a musical instrument?

No, but I appreciate everyone that can, greatly.

Something that drives you nuts?

The inconsistency of people hell-bent on saying: "We drive on the left side of the road", but who then get on a pavement and walk all over the place without sticking to that rule. In general, the absence of applied logic.

Best piece of advice you've ever been given?

If you want to make a career, life or other personal choice and can't make up your mind what you want, then consider first and foremost the things you don't like or want. What remains is probably what you like and should therefore choose.

If your house were on fire and you could save one item, what would it be (family excepted)?

The NAS (network storage system) because it holds all data, pictures, videos etc. - the rest is replaceable.

Buzzword you hate the most?

'Thinking outside the box'. What box?

What do you have for breakfast?

Either cereal with yoghurt or a cracker with cheese. This choice is made daily and is mood based. A cup of coffee to follow.

Something about you that people might be surprised by?

I competed at an international level in powerlifting, although it's been a few years since I've taken part in the sport.

The original article in Business Life Magazine and can be viewed here.

Find out more about Michel van Leeuwen's experience and plans for Hawksford.

Michel van Leeuwen

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