15 years Levi9 - Embracing new beginnings

From: Tanya van Witzenburg, Information Security Officer at Levi9

15 years? Really? Sometimes I wonder myself, how did I come to this number without feeling bored, done, know-it-all feeling? And the answer is simple – if you have a chance for a new beginning, for new learning in your career – embrace it, let it take you to the areas you haven’t even thought of, and enjoy the journey of discovering.

When I joined Levi9 as a Delivery Manager back in 2009 in Kyiv, Ukraine, I could not have imagined where this new adventure will take me. It was a new area for me, and I had to learn fast. Not everything was easy, and some things looked close to impossible. My first team did not even speak English, so I encouraged them to start learning it. I would stay after working hours with them to gradually get them to the level able to communicate with our customers. It was the period when I understood that to build a good team, you need to invest a lot of time and effort, but it is certainly worth it.

When I settled in my role and had a stable and good functioning teams and happy customers, Levi9 approached me to open a new Ukraine office that happened to be in my hometown. This was the first time in the company when it had to be done from scratch, and I had no one to ask – how to do it. But I felt like I was up to the challenge.

I remember interviewing people in coffee shops and on park benches, to work in the office I did not have yet, and for the customers that did not come yet. I was installing computers, preparing people for the interviews with customers, buying coffee for the office, organizing quarterly meetings for our management, and managing teams I already had back in Kyiv, all at the same time. I think it was my determination to make it happen that kept me going. After this turbulent start, the team got together, the office opened its doors, and the first customers started their projects.

When the office was settled, the new window of opportunities opened for me in Levi9, which was to work in our Headquarter office in Amsterdam. It was again a new beginning for me, when I had to embrace a new culture, pick up a new language, learn how to drive and get into a totally new role for me as a Solution Manager. This was another tough but very interesting period, which allowed me to grow further and strengthened my belief that I can do more that I think I can.

5 years ago, I was presented with another opportunity at Levi9 – to become the first Headquarter Information Security Officer in Levi9. I again was entering a new for me domain, I did not have a team and I did not have a clear vision of what to do in this function to bring a change for the company, but I knew I could do it. Gradually the team was formed, and the topic of security became of importance for Levi9. With time, I could confidently say that my team built a security culture in Levi9, that we brought a change big enough to be proud of.

15 years ago, I could not imagine having such a career growth, of working in 2 countries and in 3 locations, implementing processes on a company level, and having the most amazing team ever to work with.

It was this tandem of Levi9 trusting me enough with serious challenges, and of me trusting myself enough to embrace a new beginning, each time I was given the chance to do so. And who knows, maybe the next challenge in Levi9 for me is just around the corner.