Eradicating data inefficiencies with Leen Van Aert, Ahlers
Since the People of the industry feature started, we focused on the people who have spent their time in the field, handling complex projects, finding out of the box solutions, solving the project logistics challenges. However, there are people behind the scenes who take care of different aspects of the job, like the finances. Leen Van Aert, Financial Controller for the Ahlers group within Corporate Finance, is one of those people.
Leen Van Aert joined Ahlers in 2008 and is currently based in the company’s office in Antwerp. Her responsibilities include reporting & treasury, together with her colleagues within the team. While the company often handles complex logistics projects on a daily basis, Van Aert focuses on financial data, consolidating, processing, validating, reconciling using a plethora of tools for financial reporting.
Finance within logistics sector
“Before I started at Ahlers, I had no experience at all with logistics or maritime sector. After my short experience within audit sector, I was not looking for any specific industry, but the vacancy within Ahlers at that time was the right fit for me. I started at the Maritime Services department when I joined Ahlers,” Van Aert says.
Over the 15 years with Ahlers, Van Aert has worked in different departments and in different capacities, working with a number of people who have had a major role in her development within the company.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with great colleagues over the years, thanks to whom I have learned a lot, not only on finance itself, but also on other topics like project management or other soft skills,” she says.
Additionally, Van Aert says, “In 2008 when I joined Ahlers and later in 2016 when I joined the Corporate Finance Team, I noticed that quit a big part of data was processed manually and often in an inconsistent and also inefficient way which was very time consuming at that time.”
Over recent years, a lot of effort has ben put into increasing the efficiency by investing in automation and systems but also in people, which creates time and space for analysing data and getting useful insights out of the data, rather than focusing on consolidating the data itself.
Looking forward, Van Aert says, “within finance we should keep our focus on innovation and try to increase cooperation between finance and the rest of the organisation.”