Serious about People

Serious about People

01/16/2023 - 16:44

Interview with alumnus Bart van Heumen, one of the ‘Tonies’ of Chocolonely
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One of the ‘Tonies’ of Chocolonely graduated in Hotel Management from Breda University of Applied Sciences (then NHTV) in 2015. Okay, just a quick association – hotel plus chocolate – it makes me think of the complimentary chocolate on a neatly fluffed pillow. But there must be more to it. Tell me Bart, how come you are now Business Controller at Tony Chocolonely? And why is your nickname ‘Daddy Dinero’? 

‘Shush, I didn't really want to say this, but I remember a class from Simen Kooi in the first year, he asked something along the lines of: who among you will be working in a hotel later? I was the only one who didn't raise his finger. Not that it became a struggle, the study programme, on the contrary, you become very good at a lot of things. And I started asking myself, what do I like and what am I really good at? Well, finance!’ 


What it is all about 

‘That is in fact the beauty of the hotel course in Breda, it's all in there, Economics & Finance, Business Law & Ethics. I explored those subjects in more depth during my master’s, I did the Master of Science in Finance at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. What I learned in my bachelor in Hotel Management is mainly how to identify people's needs and how to respond to them properly. That's what the programme was all about for me.’  


Chocolate makes everybody happy 

‘I do this in my work now, too. There is a need for insight into the financial picture, in an understandable manner. Chocolate makes everybody happy, but finance doesn’t. I make the translation. That's what I'm good at, because we hardly did anything else in hotel training. Being connected, what does the other person need, interaction, communication. What helps is the small-scale learning environment. Paying sincere attention to each other, I think the course is really unique in that respect.’  


Serious about people 

‘I see a lot of similarities in the culture at Tony’s and that of the hotel school in Breda. That's no coincidence though, I deliberately looked for a company that I feel the same about. With a focus on people. Crazy about chocolate, serious about people. That's Tony’s and that suits me, because I also have a huge sweet tooth. Serious about people has everything to do with our mission, moving towards 100% slave-free as the standard in chocolate.’  


I handle the money side 

‘Tony’s is a very flat organisation, we kind of defy hierarchy. Job titles are nice, but it's all about our qualities. You just asked about my nickname, well that's why, I handle the money side and that became Daddy Dinero, father of money. You can see that focus on qualities and their development in the hotel programme too. Personal leadership, working on yourself with a development plan, basically you just get prepared to present yourself.’  


Every business has hospitality in it   

‘And you can do that in any industry. I sometimes say, the hotel industry is not so much an industry; every company and every organisation has a hospitality component in it. I did a work placement at a hotel in London, but many assignments during our studies we did for completely different companies. As early as from the first year, maybe that sparked something in me, the idea that you can work for another company as well. The most important thing for me is that I can add value.’ 


The impact we want to make   

‘The fact that it has become an international company with Dutch roots makes it all the better for me. At Tony’s, I am financially responsible for the international market. We have offices in New York, London, Hamburg, Salzburg and Stockholm. My international and entrepreneurial hotel training forms the basis. Tony’s is an impact company that makes chocolate. Not the other way around. And I learned that back in Breda - make sure you make an impact, that you set something in motion, and show in your report how you do that. Tony’s Living Income Model is now going to be used by others and that's exactly the impact we want to make. That way we can help even more cocoa farmers!’