Editor’s note: The Netherlands-American Chamber of Commerce Southeast, based in Atlanta, publishes a monthly interview spotlighting one of its members. This summer, the organization caught up with Bernard Vanderlande, managing partner of Tula Executive Search. The interview has been reprinted with permission and edited for length and clarity.
NACCSE: Please tell us about your business and its history.
Mr. Vanderlande: Tula Executive Search has been in the search business since 2009. Our name, Tula, actually means “balance” in Sanskrit, and we are focused on striking that crucial balance between skillsets, cultural fit and leadership quality.
NACCSE: What is your business industry category or specialty?
Mr. Vanderlande: Our team of consultants focus on Manufacturing, Aeronautics, Data Analysis, Packaging Manufacturing, Plastics, Logistics & Supply Chain, Fintech, Construction, Building Materials, Infrastructure, Automotive, Energy, Wind Energy, Solar, Composites, Transportation, Composites, and Life Sciences.
We also have experience in assessment for selection and development, leadership succession planning, executive coaching, job analysis, selection validation, employee surveys and team building.
NACCSE: How many employees does the business have?
Mr. Vanderlande: We have a team of four at Tula, including Dr. Eike Jordan, John Lyons, and Rose Wildschut.
NACCSE: What would you like others to know about Tula?
Mr. Vanderlande: We would like people to know that we are committed to building long-term partnerships with our clients built on trust and performance. As a Dutchman who has worked in the U.S. for many years, I have strong insight into the skillsets necessary for American candidates to thrive in businesses that combine Dutch and American cultures.
We believe in the importance of a deep understanding of clients and candidates as people, as well as assessing their business outcomes. We spend the time to have multiple in-depth conversations and face-to-face meetings with our clients and our candidates.
NACCSE: What are some of the changes in the workforce you have noticed during the pandemic?
Mr. Vanderlande: The COVID-19 pause gave companies/organizations an opportunity to take a quiet, undistracted look at where they really stand, and envision the organization they truly desire when all this has receded.
For example, most of the furloughed or laid-off employees are probably people companies want back when the wheels start turning again. But some of them will not fit the reshaped organization. Who best suits the reshaped company? Personalities aside for a moment, what talents will you need the most? Which skills promise the largest sustaining payoffs? A more fundamental question is, what is the most rewarding long-term scenario?
During the pandemic, we have seen that remote working has become almost the norm. Pre-lockdown, those who worked in an office tended to be promoted more readily. Remote workers paid a penalty. Perhaps the COVID lockdown has opened bigger possibilities for remote workers. Proximity and physical location may no longer be as important. One sign of the changed reality: up to 50 percent of Facebook‘s workforce is operating remotely. Pre-COVID, we talked a great deal about what makes a great CEO. But that debate assumed that before every other quality, leadership required physical presence. Perhaps a new skill for modern CEOs is to develop skill at projecting leadership from a distance; an important part of managing teams remotely.
[pullquote]Perhaps a new skill for modern CEOs is to develop skill at projecting leadership from a distance; an important part of managing teams remotely.[/pullquote]
NACCSE: Why did you choose Atlanta to set up your business?
Mr. Vanderlande: Atlanta is a city that attracts a lot of international business. Our city has great business infrastructure and an airport that offers you same-day travel across the US and easy access to the rest of the world.
I did my undergraduate studies in Atlanta, earned my MBA just north of here at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, giving me access to big alumni networks across the Southeast.
I also ran an “Inc 5000” company in Atlanta for 20 plus years as did many of my Tula associates — our roots here run deep.
NACCSE: What is the best thing about your job?
Mr. Vanderlande: The best thing about my job is spending time getting to know our clients and understanding their business challenges.
NACCSE: Do you have a favorite quote?
“Hiring the right people takes time, the right questions, and a healthy dose of curiosity. What do you think is the most important factor when building your team? For us, it’s personality.” –Richard Branson
NACCSE: Any other personal information you would like to share, e.g. hobbies, special interests, family etc…
Mr. Vanderlande: My spouse and I have seven children and eight grandchildren. I enjoy playing golf, hiking, cooking and reading history.