Meet Gemma de Koning, Vice President of Operations and Logistics for Europe, Middle East and Africa
Updated: Jul 27, 2021
Obstacle courses, yoga and appreciating the small things in life – join us as we sit down with Gemma de Koning to discover what drives her at work and after hours.
Why did you join Stryker?
In all honesty, I did not know Stryker when the recruiter called me about a potential role. However, as I did my research, talked to a few people who were familiar with Stryker and went through the interview process, it became crystal clear that Stryker is a great place to work with mission and values that are truly meaningful. What Stryker stands for is also closely aligned with my own personal mission and values. Ultimately, I joined Stryker to make a difference in people’s lives – our customers, our patients and our employees – they are at the heart of what I do and why I do it.
What has your journey at Stryker been like?
I have been with Stryker since 2015. Stryker gives people a lot of opportunity to learn and grow and empowers people to either expand their responsibilities beyond their original scope or change roles for further career development. Three years after I joined Stryker, my scope expanded from Europe commercial operations to also support Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (EEMEA) and then not long after that, it expanded once again to include the entire last-mile of customer service, operations and logistics with addition of the central distribution center (CDC) located in Venlo, the Netherlands. I have never really had a defined career path, although serving customers and working with people have always been my passion and red thread in my career decisions. From previous experience and continuously learning more about myself and what my strengths are, I know what I am passionate about and what I am good at. I proactively sought out roles which helped me continue to learn, grow and be able to do what gives me energy and what I enjoy doing.
What does a day in your shoes at Stryker look like?
Never a dull moment at Stryker! Every day for me is different, especially due to my wide scope of responsibilities. Due to the pandemic, I have been working from home since March 2020 and my days are filled with quite a few online video-calls and -meetings. Prior to the pandemic, I used to travel about 50-60% of the time across Europe visiting the various operations sites – I do not miss the travel itself (especially the time in airports and in-transit), but I do very much miss the face-to-face interactions with my team.
Do you have any regrets in your career? What would you have done differently?
I do not have any regrets – I tend to go through life without regrets, life is far too short for that. I believe that at the time of making the decision to do something, to take a role (or decide against it), there were very good and valid reasons why I made those decisions. So then why regret it later? I have also found that every role up until now has brought me something positive: a learning experience and an opportunity to somehow improve myself and my skills.
What advice would you give someone looking to apply at Stryker?
Stryker is an amazing company for people with a passion for customers. Also, if you are results-driven, enjoy winning together as a team, if you like to be challenged, continuously want to improve, you do what you say and you always act with integrity, then Stryker is the place to be!
What is life like outside of Stryker?
I thoroughly enjoy spending time with family and friends. I am generally a very active person and I have always loved sports; they are an important part of my life. When I was younger, I played both soccer and softball at varsity level and later competitively in both Dutch national leagues, however, I later stopped due to growing career responsibilities and frequent travel abroad. These days you can find me at least 3x times a week in my home gym doing HIIT or training with weights, at least 1x per week I engage in an extensive yoga session and, because I like combining the outdoors and activity, I enjoy mountain biking and I am planning on actively picking up golf again after a couple of years’ pause. Also, to continue to challenge us both physically and mentally, my husband and I also sign up for at least 2 obstacle races/runs each year (e.g. mud-, spartan-, viking-race).
What are you listening to and reading right now?
I am not into podcasts. I do love listening to music and cannot imagine a life without it. I am also a big fan of TED Talks and watch at least 1 or 2 per week. I am currently re-reading a couple of books about topics close to my heart: The Culture Map (Erin Meyer), Start with Why (Simon Sinek) and two different Mindfulness books.
Is there anything else you'd like us to know?
I truly believe that you should try to bring optimism and gratitude to everything you do – to have a genuine appreciation of the small, basic and simple things in life. Although it is not always easy, that is where it starts. I do not think you can be truly happy (in work or personal life) if you only chase or value the big things. I also believe in giving back and positively impacting others, whether that is career mentoring, supporting our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) or helping to drive responsible, sustainable practices to create a better, healthier world as part of Stryker's Corporate Responsibilities (CR) efforts. Stryker promotes employees to get actively involved in activities outside their normal day-to-day responsibilities. This has allowed me to be a proud member of the global Stryker CR Steering Committee, an Executive Sponsor of the Amsterdam chapter of our Stryker Women's Network (SWN) and an ally for Stryker Allies For Equality (SAFE) resource group.
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