Ylse van der Schoot: a strong leader who helped pave the way
At the end of April, Ylse van der Schoot, investor relations director announced that she would be leaving Oikocredit to pursue other challenges. Over her eight years with Oikocredit, Ylse has built a strong team, bringing structure and process to many of the cooperative’s operational activities. With the collaboration of her colleagues and the wider Oikocredit network, the department drove inflow of lendable funds from around € 460 million in 2009 to € 780 million in 2014. Her knowledge, commitment, drive and incredible work appetite will be sorely missed within the Oikocredit cooperative. We recently spoke with Ylse about her time with Oikocredit and what the mission means to her.
Firstly, what does Oikocredit’s mission mean to you?
“The drive to work in development began as a child, realizing the impact a war can have on people. My father and grandmother survived a concentration camp in Indonesia, so my sense of ‘fighting’ for justice, big or small, has been strengthened from that. From then on, I went to live and work in a war zone in Africa, where I was fully exposed to poverty and suffering. Seeing this first-hand motivated me even further to want to help improve people’s lives. Working in an organization with a social mission is very important to me.”
After eight years with Oikocredit, what has been the most rewarding for you?
“For me, it’s the well-functioning and solid team I’ve helped build up. When I first joined Oikocredit, there was no uniform house style, no organised approach for marketing and communications, which was handled by different departments. In fact, marketing was seen as a dirty word, something that was pushy and not in line with Oikocredit’s word of mouth approach. With the support of my colleagues, as well as support associations, we found an organizational approach that enabled us to work in a coherent and effective way.”
Your colleagues all over the world speak highly of you and can easily list examples of your achievements over the past years. But what would you say is your biggest achievement at Oikocredit?
“Since building up the investor relations department, we have achieved a lot. Our organized approach enabled us to roll-out over 50 websites, set up the Oikocredit Academy for support associations, organize more intense investor contact with colleagues and partners in the field, create a proper house style with beautiful photography and build a common administration system TITAN, our secure investment database. Because we organized various functions, we were also able to better serve the support associations in a more orderly fashion. These have been major achievements for not only the department, but for Oikocredit as an organization.”
Since becoming investor relations director, inflow capital has gone from around € 460 million in 2009 to € 780 million in 2014. What do you attribute to such record figures?
“Part of it is attributed to internal organization as well as marketing. Oikocredit has come a long way in terms of marketing, which has enabled us to reach other target groups, with the help of our national support offices and support associations. The figures can also be partly attributed to people losing trust in the traditional banking system as well as looking for alternative, impactful investing.”
Lastly, do you have any parting words of wisdom or advice would you give to anyone joining Oikocredit today?
“My advice would be to listen and make sure you understand the mission. Oikocredit’s an international cooperative that brings together all different nationalities and cultures, which is something that must be kept in mind – what works in one country or setting may not work in another. So the ability to listen and learn from one another, as well as collaborate with Oikocredit’s many stakeholders is key to being fully part of the international cooperative.”