Whether it’s a farm or an organization with hundreds of employees: taking over a company is nothing. In this series we ask the (new) caliphs how to perform their new role. This time: Deena Halbertsma, 58, has been the director of the Diabetes Fund since March.
How did you become a manager?
“I’ve come a long way. In 2005 I ended up at Longfonds, where I’ve been on the board for the past few years. I’m originally a mathematician.”
“Healthy behavior has always been a common denominator throughout my career. It was by no means that I always dreamed of becoming a filmmaker. What I wanted was to make a real difference in my work and be relevant to people’s lives. So when I had the opportunity to become a HMO manager Diabetic, I grabbed it with both hands.”
“I think if you become a manager of something you have to do it from your heart. So the mission of the Diabetes Fund touches me personally. My cousin has type 1 diabetes. It is a major disease, but I see that diabetes is often underestimated by outsiders a lot.”
Can you prepare for a role like this? How do you deal with that?
“The task is so big, you can only handle it together. I read a lot during the preparation and talked to many people. I had a cup of tea with all the staff and asked what they faced, what went well and what could be done. I can do what is Better, but I’ve also spoken to volunteers, researchers, companies and partners we work with.”
Do you like to dive into something?
“Yes, sure. I must say: it is very complicated. The number of people with diabetes is increasing. 1.2 million people in the Netherlands have the disease, and there are another 1,000 every week. A massive prevention effort is needed. This trend can be done if you I brought people together and used a lot of knowledge from research.”
“This way you learn exactly what change is needed to achieve goals. People constantly tend to make unhealthy choices. That’s why, for example, we’re working on a sugar tax and we want a ban on marketing to children.”
“If we’re not sure if something works, we just try it.”
What kind of director are you?
“You should really ask the staff. But I think I’m very open and accessible. I’m never in a separate office. I’m not a manager who says, ‘This is how we’re going to do it.'” “I know I don’t have all the wisdom myself, so I’d rather ask how others see it, and how they think we should do it. If we’re not sure if something works, we just give it a try.”
Work stress is a big problem for many companies. How is that with you
“Work should always fit in with the time available. We work hard. I have to slow people down rather than encourage them to move on. I always say, ‘If it gets too much, knock on my door.’ I think you should always be on the cutting edge of stress.”
What do you do in your free time?
“I love spending time with my family and friends. In addition, I walk and exercise regularly. Another of my hobbies is making sudoku. When you solve a complex puzzle, your brain has no time to worry. Think every now and then, I often do a game of Sudoku before I I sleep, and then I sleep like tree trunks.”
“I also love reading inspiring books. They don’t have to be departmental books. I recently read a beautiful literary book, which I can totally disappear into.”
“Travel enthusiast. Alcohol lover. Friendly entrepreneur. Coffeeaholic. Award-winning writer.”