While Dutch-born Ed Goos is no stranger to international assignments, his latest mission has created challenges no one could have foreseen. Ed originally joined Euler Hermes’ auditing arm, which offered him an avenue for learning about the company and its business abroad. He went on to occupy commercial positions and become CFO in his native land. His valuable skillset then took him to Sweden as Nordic CFO and to the Czech Republic as CEO of Central and Eastern Europe to build the regional business unit.
Ed had only been in his current post in Belgium for a few months when Europe entered lockdown. “I had just started, so I didn’t yet know the team well. Then suddenly, our offices were closed and we were all working from home. My family was in Prague, I was in Belgium and the borders were closed,” he explains. “Still, I was determined to build solid, trust-based relationships. We implemented daily check-in calls, a bi-weekly blog post, weekly team meetings and monthly digital town halls to stay in touch on an ongoing basis.”
“Of course,” he adds, “since all the hairdressers were closed, I avoided video calls as much as possible.”
Stepping stones across Europe
Throughout his career, Ed’s international assignments have been a constant source of growth and development. On a personal level, he found the move to Sweden the most challenging, as it was his first time living in a new country and required him to step up to manage cultural differences and language challenges.
Professionally, the transition from CFO to CEO was the biggest leap. “As CFO, there’s someone higher up with ultimate responsibility for everything” he says. “However, as CEO in Eastern Europe, the buck stopped with me. It was my job to set the pace and tone.”
Despite all the ups and downs, Ed is extremely positive about the benefits of working abroad. “Working in different countries was necessary training for me,” he says. “Experience of other countries and cultures broadens your view of how business can be conducted, making you a more rounded person. Moving around was also a great way to make the connections I needed to reach my current position.”
Ed’s first and final lesson
CEO of Benelux Region
Above all, Ed values transparency and integrity in professional relationships. “I try to foster a supportive and trusting team atmosphere. It’s important to give people credit for their achievements, but also to help them feel comfortable admitting errors. That’s crucial to empowering people to take risks without fear.”
Still, while honesty and consistency may be Ed’s watchwords, he also has a secret weapon. “A bit of humour in a company is useful,” he concludes. “Laughter always helps!”