In conversation with Gabriëlle Herschel-Wiltink

  • 22-03-2023
  • Article
Main interviewed Gabriëlle Herschel-Wiltink about her new role as Chief Financial Officer at Zig, one of Main's portfolio companies since November 2021.

Gabriëlle has built a strong track-record holding a variety of finance roles, including Financial Director at ArrangeGroup, Project Manager at and Managing Partner at Intertise. She will now lead the finance and control division at Zig, leveraging her extensive experience in the finance sector to help the company shape the future of PropTech.

“For eight years, I worked at PWC as a Public Accountant before moving into the business sector. Of course, PWC itself is also part of business, but on the other side of the table. Working at PWC gave me a deep understanding of how businesses interact with each other to flourish and grow. I’m thrilled to apply that knowledge to my current role in software development. My experience has enabled me to approach my job with a distinct perspective; one that understands the importance of fostering successful relationships between business partners and the value of creating meaningful solutions to improve the customers’ lives. Having the opportunity to be part of a business that directly contributes to society is an exciting challenge going forward,” Gabriëlle explains.

Can you tell us what interested you in working for Zig?

“I was particularly intrigued by the company’s phase. Main had just joined in November 2021 and since then the organization has really taken off. It’s a very dynamic company and there’s a lot going on. I find it an exciting opportunity to join Zig and play a role in their continued success.

Zig’s culture also spoke to me. As a company, we try to maintain a sense of familiarity, even though we are growing. The reality is that this gets more difficult as we continue to grow, but we do our part to invest in relationships with colleagues. This core value is what we sell to our customers. The solution we offer aims to establish and maintain a strong connection between the landlord and the tenant. Being a customer-oriented company that facilitates connection, it must also be reflected internally. We believe it is important to live up to those principles of commitment within our own corporate culture. Only then can you really be convincing to the public,” Gabriëlle adds.

What I like most about Zig is the entrepreneurial drive, the ambition, the innovative character and what I mentioned earlier, the social relevance of the market in which we operate. We are of course in the housing corporation and real estate market, and that social relevance speaks for itself. The social relevance of a roof over your head is by no doubt extremely important, it’s a primary need. In this light, our goal transcends away from merely selling to actually providing; and it’s extremely rewarding to contribute to that.”

What is your specific role at Zig?

“My responsibility is to provide financial support in order to deploy and execute the business strategy efficiently. I find it equally exciting to work as a business partner with operations and with the mutual aim of achieving healthy and sustainable growth.

What I also find important is that I can contribute to the overall Zig culture and therefore the role I have in the internal structure of the company. We have grown quite rapidly lately, with two acquisitions last year. It is very important that what we radiate from the outside is also reflected internally. This involves collaborating, trusting each other and working together towards a greater, unified goal.”

What do you enjoy most about your job?

“The most important thing is that you have the fundamentals in order: you can’t be healthy in a house that isn’t clean. And finance is what I like to call the organizational hygiene. At all times you need to know the financial state of the company and be compliant with all laws and regulations. Once all that is in place, it becomes fun in my opinion. Reliable data and thorough data analysis leads to more accurate forecasting and better decision-making. Ultimately, what really gives me energy is collaborating with different disciplines; and through, that connecting with employees and our customers by maintaining an open dialogue.”

What are the goals for Zig, and how can you contribute to achieving them?

“Currently, my primary goal within Zig is to set up a solid, well-equipped finance and control department. This includes financially integrating all Zig acquisitions in the past year. Furthermore, I will contribute to the development and execution of Zig’s growth strategy by identifying opportunities that create value for our customers. So, not only for shareholders’ benefit, but also for customers’ benefit. I believe that this is very important, in the sense that the focus should not only be placed on value creation inherent to maximizing financial returns. This is of course imperative, but it should come hand in hand with a joint focus on long-term goals; including customer satisfaction. In response, the question becomes: how do you keep customers loyal over time? This requires constantly staying in close contact with the customer and constantly innovating and improving the software we provide. This means providing regular updates and responding quickly to customer inquiries and feedback to identify areas of improvement. Ultimately, loyalty hinges on consistently delivering high-quality products and services that innovate along the way.

More broadly speaking, our goal is to become a leading player and the household brand for the software real estate market; both within the Netherlands and internationally. In addition to strengthening and expanding our current market position in the housing corporation market, we also aim to strengthen our commercial position in the real estate market. For me it is an exciting challenge to contribute to the realization of these ambitions from a financial perspective.”

Moving forward, what are some of the main challenges for Zig, and how can you face them in your role?

“Recently we added two add-ons to our business portfolio last year, which means our portfolio has now become much broader. The real challenge is how to effectively integrate all separate business structures and organizations into an umbrella group. In addition, it is also important to focus on, and make maximum use of synergy effects. By this I mean that all business units should be properly aligned while keeping an eye on the big picture. By leveraging the synergies between all the elements of our expanded portfolio, we can maximize our collective potential. My commitment to this process will be to ensure synergy throughout and align the financial department, while staying focused on the big picture. Nevertheless, the challenges ahead are exciting and I look forward to contributing to Zig’s growth journey.” Gabriëlle concludes.

The challenges ahead are exciting and I look forward to contributing to Zig’s growth journey

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