Meet Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Security Officer Paul Hilhorst (52).
Paul manages all of The Hyve’s financial affairs – from business administration to controlling projects. As Security Officer, he makes sure the company is compliant with all ISO 27001 information security standards. During weekends, you normally find Paul on the football pitch and – in winter – playing indoor tennis. Of course, these activities have now been suspended for the duration of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Can you tell me a bit about your background?
I studied Business Economics at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam where I graduated in the early 1990s. Over the years, I worked for a range of companies. Always in a financial role and always in the professional services sector, apart from the last one – a waste recycling company.
How did you get to know The Hyve?
Harry van Haaften contacted me via LinkedIn. My profile indicated that I was available for a new job opportunity. Harry sent me a short message asking if that was still the case. At first, I didn’t know what to think of it as I’d never been contacted for a job in this way. But I decided to reply and was invited for an interview.
It turned out they were looking not only for someone who could take care of the financial affairs of the growing company, they were also looking for someone who could take up the role of Security Officer as the company had just started its ISO 27001 certification. I had previously been involved with a similar certification process for secure payment transactions, so I could take up that role besides managing the company's finances as a Financial Controller. I started in August 2015, so I’ve been working at The Hyve for almost 5 years now. Since January 2020 in my new role as CFO.
Can you describe your day-to-day activities?
As CFO, I am part of the Management Team and responsible for the execution of management processes within the company, together with Harry van Haaften, our Managing Director. This involves initiating policy-making, coordinating management cycles, hiring & firing, legal affairs and information security. Besides that, I’m still responsible for the daily finance-related topics. These take up most of my time of course and involve accounting tasks such as paying salaries, sending and paying invoices, checking quotes that are sent out to customers. The Hyve’s accounting is not too complicated when compared to other companies I’ve worked for. We are a company that works independently, without interference from external investors or a bank. That also makes my life as a CFO easier.
Other finance tasks include budgeting, writing internal and external financial reports, and project controlling. Our company has about 50 ongoing projects at any given time and, of course, these need to be managed not only in time but also financially. A fair number of our projects are paid from EU grants, which requires regular reporting on our progress and how we spent the grant money.
The role of Security Officer takes up about 20 percent of my time. It means I lead a team of four people. We are responsible for our Information Security Management System (ISMS): the documentation of our information security policies and procedures. As a team, we need to make sure that the ISMS stays up-to-date.
Over the years, the ISO-requirements have proven to be helpful in structuring the company. They force you to sort out certain processes and that’s useful when you’re a young, developing and ever-changing company.
We obtained our ISO 27001 certification in October 2017. The certificate is valid for 3 years, so in September we’ll start the process for recertification. This will involve a more in-depth audit than we had in previous years. We always do an internal audit before we get the external audit, so we identify problems timely and sort them out. I’m confident the recertification audit will not find any major problems and the result will be just fine.
What do you like about working at The Hyve?
The people. The Hyve is different from any other company I’ve worked before and that’s mainly due to the high education level and the diversity of nationalities. It brings along a unique dynamism which I like.
For a lot of the people in the company, this is their first job. It made me realize that, being older, I’m also more experienced. I like to be able to share my knowledge and experience with younger colleagues.
Being a finance person, how is it to work among so many IT-people?
Not having expert IT-knowledge can be refreshing. When discussing a topic, I look at it from a totally different angle. Sometimes that gets me the reproach that a suggestion I make just won’t work. At other times it’s welcomed because they hadn’t looked at it from that perspective.
My IT-colleagues are typically passionate about the things they are working on, and they want to devote all their time to perfecting the products. I appreciate that. At the same time, it’s sometimes useful to have a reality check: yes, we should deliver on what we promise our clients and develop a quality product. At the same time we should do that in a way that is financially sustainable. In IT you can quite easily spend a lot of time perfecting details. Over the past years, the awareness has grown within the company that you can be profitable and maintain a high standard of quality.
What do you like to do when you're 'off-duty'?
Normally, I’d say playing football myself and watching the games of my son. And, in winter, playing indoor tennis with a couple of friends. The corona outbreak changed all that. Football matches have been suspended at least until September so I’m not doing much at the moment when it comes to sports. Apart from football and tennis, I like riding my bicycle (to the office and touring with my wife), watching movies with my daughter and I do read, but only during the holidays.