Who are the power people behind Popay? Today, let’s meet: Ward Bollens

Who are the power people behind Popay? Today, let’s meet: Ward Bollens
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Published on

26 Jan 2024

Whereas HR staff tend to have less technical savvy, IT staff in turn can find it difficult to clearly explain how certain software and technologies contribute to HR processes. Ward brings both of these worlds together. With his background in HR and now five years of work experience at Popay, he knows exactly how to use clear language to explain to customers what the systems and solutions can do for them. Meet Ward! 

Ward, who are you and where are you from?
“I’m 30 years old and was born and raised in Leuven. We also work from Popay Belgium here.”

So, nice and close to home! How did you end up at Popay?
“I studied Human Resources in Leuven. From that point, I joined a temp agency. After a year and a half there, I saw that it was a bit too commercial for me. That’s why I started looking for something else and the vacancy at Popay appealed to me.”

Time for a change. What appealed to you about the vacancy at Popay?
They were looking for a functional consultant who could take on projects from A to Z. Then you can really deliver something to the customer. That appealed to me together with the variety in the work. So I now work as in the project team on various projects that have to do with implementation, payroll integration and support for our own products. And that was what I was looking for: a varied job, project-based work, and independence where you can define your own role. And it is less commercial. Of course, I do a bit of account management and have contact with clients, but this is warm contact aimed at transferring expertise and helping organisations move forward.”

A good match by the sounds of it. What does your work day look like?
“My work day is always different. It very much depends on the projects I’m working on. I usually work in the office at Popay or from home, as I mainly do background work. For example, working on the software’s technical configuration to enable data integration. It’s different when it comes to implementation projects concerning our own software. In that case, I can more often be found at client locations for project meetings and conducting workshops. I also work for support, resolving customer tickets.”

That’s great, alternating between home and the office. Do you enjoy that?
“Yes, I like that very much. I try to come to the office 2-3 days a week. The work atmosphere is good there, thanks to my great colleagues. We all have the same attitude to life: work hard, play hard. Every Friday night we have drinks after work, which is cool. It’s nice that we are given the freedom to alternate between working at home and the office. That also helps in maintaining a work/life balance. I have two young children, so I can take them to school in the morning and pick them up occasionally. Then I just work a few more hours in the evening.”

Sounds good. How do you empower customers, what is your added value?
“In the five years I’ve been with Popay, I have amassed expertise on our own products. We have packages for Core Data, Learn, payslips and contract applications, among other areas. I try to share this expertise with customers. My HR background allows me to explain certain technical matters in a clear and straightforward way. The same goes for the processes involved and for data integration. For example, how should a payroll provider receive data? I always try to use my knowledge to steer the way towards the best and most efficient solution. So to answer how I empower my clients: I make sure the HR team can work as efficiently as possible. Making fewer errors, processing data correctly and saving time.”

Sounds good. And why do you think that’s important in this day and age?
“I think everyone is busy. And in the meantime, the world is changing and digitalising. We all need to be a part of that. Quality is important there. Data quality as well as process quality. You can save time by making these things easier. More and more companies are seeing that digitalisation can help them. It makes the way we work easier rather than more difficult. And that is much needed, because everyone has so much work on their desk nowadays.”

Nice ambition. What defines you in your work?
“What I often hear is that people see me as someone who wants to help. Both from colleagues and customers. I’m happy to offer my help and expertise to help others move forward. Supportive in other words. And I also deliver quality. My aim is to never deliver a partial solution or anything that doesn’t work for the customer.”

When do you feel a sense of satisfaction there?
“When we solve a complex issue. When the customer has a problem and we’ve found a way of working that is right for everyone. When the customer is satisfied, sees that the process works well, and that the solution is a good one. That gives me great sense of fulfilment.”

What is the biggest compliment you have ever received from a customer or colleague?
“That was the case recently, on a project where we were providing data exchange from a master system to a payroll provider. At the end of the project, an HR employee commented that she thought it was nice that I could clearly articulate the technical aspects behind the data flow, in a way that allowed her to be fully aware of the process without any technical background. This meant she was able to comprehend the complexity and understand why something was or wasn’t working as she expected. That gave her a handle on things. It was a nice compliment, especially since I don’t have a background in IT.”

Absolutely! What truly gives you energy and what is something that you really can’t stand?
“When a complex issue is solved and an organisation can work in the most efficient way possible – that gives me energy. But also if it works as expected by the customer or my colleagues. That’s nice. I also get energy from project-based work. Breaking down one greater whole into chunks and achieving the ideal end result. What I find more difficult is working with people who aren’t working towards the goal in the most efficient way and when decisions are not being made. Then you just keep going around in circles.” 

Where do your ambitions lie, what are you striving for?
“To further enhance the expertise I’m building up. We work on so many things at Popay, so there’s always something new coming along. A new challenge, a new project or yet another complex issue. I dive straight into that, take the opportunity to delve deep into it, make the most of it, and learn from it. I want to get better at what I do every day. So my ambition is to develop myself both in my job and overall.”