Employee story

Put your hand up and doors will open for you

Annemarie Harmsen
Corporate Services & Business Administration

“If you want to get ahead at GEA, no problem. It’s all in your own hands,” says Annemarie Harmsen, who started out as an intern in Den Bosch (Netherlands) thirteen years ago and has now built a great international career for herself. Today, as Manager of Strategy & Application Development, she helps steer the global course of action of the GEA Application Center Utilities.

Annemarie’s story

“Different cultures, distant lands and people with diverse backgrounds and world views have always fascinated me,” explains Annemarie. “That’s why, in 2006, I made a conscious decision to look for a company that’s a global player. When I joined GEA in Den Bosch, I was put to work on an international digital communication project. As the job progressed, I felt more and more at home and when I was offered the opportunity, as a Digital Communication Specialist, to help develop not only our intranet but also our internet presence, I grabbed it with both hands. At the time GEA was going through a huge transformation, as a result of which all the data of 25 separate companies had to be brought together on one website. It was an exciting and intense time, but after that I felt the need to take a break. I went off travelling around Australia and New Zealand by myself. When I came back, I started working in the Marketing & Communication department of GEA Refrigeration Netherlands. In 2015 I was made responsible for the global marketing of the Application Center Utilities and since 2018 I’ve had a strategic role that has taken me, often virtually but also physically, to every corner of the planet.”
Being a woman has never held me back at GEA.
Impact and get-togethers
“The main motivating factor for me is that I get to work with a lot of great minds every day, looking for ways to make a real mark on how to deal with utilities around the world. Our innovative technology makes it possible for companies to operate much more sustainably. Look, I used to be mainly involved in marketing. I still believe that’s very important, because we have to make sure that the right people know about us and know what it is we do. But recently, as Strategy Manager, I’ve taken more of a front-seat role and I’m more convinced than ever that our work is vital and has a real impact. Because thanks to optimum management of heat and cold in industry, GEA is making a significant contribution to issues that really matter these days, such us climate and energy. 
“But do you know what else drives me? The people. GEA is just a fantastic company to work for. Right from the start, I felt that we were a family and that I could turn to colleagues or management if there were any problems. ‘My door is always open’ is something that can be taken quite literally here. And every Friday afternoon from 4.30 to 5.30 we get together for drinks at the office in Den Bosch, which gives you a chance to chat informally and also gets the weekend off to a great start. Things like that are so important, in my view.”
Since 2018 I’ve had a strategic role that takes me, often virtually but also physically, to every corner of the planet.
Opportunities to grow

“You don’t get a pat on the back every day here,” adds Annemarie. “But you can clearly see that your efforts are appreciated because of the opportunities you’re given to grow. For instance, my management recommended me for the ‘First Professional Program’, intensive 12-month talent program with 21 participants worldwide. I learned a huge amount from that. And recently I also embarked on the ‘Women Career Program’, which focuses specifically on career, visibility and networking for female talents. Incidentally, being a woman has never held me back at GEA. I’ve had two children during my time here and work four days a week, but that doesn’t stop me pursuing an international career. And when I needed time to take a break and broaden my horizons, I could do that too. As I keep saying, if you put your best foot forward for GEA, GEA will return the favour (laughs).”

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