Let's meet Bauke Buikstra – Marketing Strategy & Ops lead at Vinted, who is currently on a mission to bring more people on board to optimize Vinted's marketing strategy and take care of the brand's growth. Bauke has told us about his journey at Vinted, expectations for his future teammates, and his progress towards a more sustainable lifestyle.
Hi Bauke! What is your role at Vinted?
I am a Marketing Strategy & Ops lead, and I am currently hiring a team that I will lead. Our team makes sure that all the investments in marketing yield the most growth for us – that we have the optimal balance of marketing channels and invest so that the company grows but does not waste money in doing so. We combine knowledge from various marketing teams as well as product, shipping, finance and other departments to make effective decisions.
Can you tell us a little bit more about what led you to your current position?
Before starting my job at Vinted, I worked as a consultant for many companies, most of which were digital services providers: ecommerce and online marketplaces. I would help them answer big, strategic questions by creating a clear plan of all possible steps that need to be taken to reach the end goal. However, I had always been curious about what it would feel like to implement the strategy together with a group of young and enthusiastic people in-house. So, I started looking for companies that would help me experience this.
I was quite specific – I knew that I wanted to be in a fast-growing Internet company, where I could still make a noticeable change. I was also looking for a company that is doing something exciting and cool. Finally, I wanted to change the city where I lived.
By then, I had lived in Amsterdam for five years, and it was great, but I knew that there are many great places and things that I can learn while working in other countries. I started talking with companies in Europe and came across Vinted. I really liked the story and the people I spoke to during my interview process - everybody was so humble and real. My old boss recommended that I talk with Vinted's CEO – Thomas. After our first conversation, I thought that this is not only an inspiring guy, but it is also an inspiring company. From that moment I already had a really good feeling. When I spoke to anyone, I was thinking, "Wow, I want to know more about you and learn a lot from you!"
How is Vinted's mission important to you personally?
Fashion is not something I care about a lot, but I care about how we deal with it, buy materials, and consume things in general. Over the last 20 years, in many industries, companies just came up and said, "Hey, the way we are doing this should be different. We should look at how we can waste less, recycle, repair or how we can share things". In the fashion industry, that attitude was far less present , and there has not been a lot of innovation from a sustainability standpoint.
I think the mission of Vinted is very important to make a dent in this. Vinted shows consumers that it is possible to buy something used by someone else with the same type of experience, the same type of value, flexibility, and speed you would get when shopping conventionally.
Are you a user of the Vinted app? Does it help you at work?
Yes, I am! Yesterday, I bought a pair of jeans, and it is sunny again so I will need to get short pants soon.
The app does help me at work because it makes me connected with Vinted, helps me understand why we make certain decisions and allows me to think like our potential members. Also, when I am using the Vinted app, I find attributes different from other apps. Knowing why we provide better or worse value to customers than other organizations allows me to understand what we should emphasize when creating marketing strategies.
What other efforts do you take towards living more sustainably?
I stopped eating cow and pork meat. I compensate for every flight that I make. I am flying somewhere only when it is necessary, e. g., for work. I trust a sustainable bank with my finances, and I am only investing in projects that meet their strict sustainability criteria.
When I used to rent an apartment, the first thing that I did was change the energy provider's contract to make sure that all the energy came from renewable energy sources such as solar or wind farms. Being more sustainable is something I have been working on. It is not possible to live fully sustainably, but I am critical about how I consume, live, and spend my money.
What would you advise your future teammates if you could meet them now? What skills should they have to join you?
Enthusiasm is key. Tomorrow, I will send an offer to the candidate that I am really happy about. After the tryout, where he spent the whole day with his future team, interviewing them and building a presentation, he said that he felt amazing because he could learn more in one day at Vinted than during two weeks at his job. He said, "If you give me a new problem every day, I will be happy".
Not being restricted by your role's defined responsibilities, the ability to think pragmatically and be very enthusiastic about solving problems are essential skills. They are challenging to maintain. I struggle with it, as well. I want to know what is going on, how we will do this in future, how can we do it more efficiently or more perfectly. At Vinted, you just need to be very adaptable and flexible.
As for what qualifications I am looking for in people I am hiring – it is important to be capable of working with data and drawing conclusions from it. Simultaneously, it is necessary to find ways to communicate this data clearly to other teams so that everyone is on the same page, and you can quickly come to a decision without sharing all the details.
And what inspires you to solve problems at work with enthusiasm?
For me, the team vibe is very important. If something unexpected pops up and you all solve it together, you see the sparkle in the teammates' eyes, and then you can move on. Sometimes it happens in the hallway by the coffee machine when you get pulled out of your thoughts by a colleague and become inspired again. It is tough during the lockdown because you just sit behind the computer, and there is no energy transfer of working together and feeling like a part of a bigger thing.
Can you tell us about your typical workday?
At Vinted, a typical workday does not exist. It is exciting but also challenging at times. I try to plan and cover my workloads, but there are always things that just pop up. They are either very important, urgent or exciting to work on and need to be prioritised. My first thing to do in the morning is to list all the things that I must do. For example, I am currently dealing with a lot of hiring challenges.
I have a few meetings every week with people from the product or the marketing teams. I spend the rest of my time collecting and sharing information or working with Excel and doing calculations.
What rules or principles are you following in your work?
I am always guided by the "Why?" principle. When thinking of a solution, process or communicating to someone, it helps if you keep an open mind. Even if you write an email, you usually go with the whole story first and only then put the conclusion. It is much more convenient for other people if you first state the email's goal.
It is handy to put yourself in the mind of the other person and ask yourself, "Why am I doing this? Am I just trying to say what I want to say, or am I making sure the recipient understands what I am trying to say? Is it that I want to connect with someone, convince this person, or do I want to hear what they need?"
It is best not to get stuck with your way of doing things - that is the principle I try to apply every day in almost everything that I do.
What do you find meaningful in your work?
What is cool about Vinted is that with anything you do for this company – you contribute to something that makes the world kind of a better place. That sounds cheesy, but with Vinted, millions of people are extending the lifespan of many many of their fashion items, giving them a second, third or more owner . Also, I like that it enables individual people to trade with each other, so that not all the money in the fashion business goes from a consumer to some five big corporate organizations taking all the profits and not paying a lot of taxes or being socially responsible. That is a significant thing for me.
From day to day, I find meaning in working with the marketing team. I feel lucky to work with such smart, fun, cool and driven people.
You have mentioned that you have joined Vinted after deciding to leave Amsterdam. Could you tell us more about your relocations while working here?
Last fall, I decided to move to Vilnius, where Vinted's HQ is located. I knew nothing about the city, but I thought it was an interesting place that I visited during my tryouts. When I moved to Vilnius, the first few months were lovely, and I really liked being part of that Vinted tribe, being among all of those smart people who have been building this company for years.
But then the lockdown started, and like all other ex-pats, I noticed that it is very difficult to build a life in a new place when sitting in the apartment all the time. At that time, I asked myself: what does this mean for me? Do I want to stay here or go to another location? I decided to leave and worked from the Netherlands for a while, then I stayed with my parents for a month. Now, one of my best friends moved to Berlin, and I moved to a vacant room in his apartment.
I really like Vinted's attitude because when I discuss this with my manager or with anyone from the people team, everyone is very open about this. They encourage you to do what makes you happy and make sure that you are in a place where you can feel relaxed and have fun.
The office in Berlin is going to grow over the next year, and when I am hiring my team, it will be a little bit easier to find suitable candidates here than in Vilnius. My future teammates will probably be based here, so now I am thinking of relocating again and making Berlin my place.
What is your favourite place in the world?
I enjoy the desert, although it is not a place I can visit very often.The desert is a nice and empty place where your first thought is that there is nothing here but sand. The longer you stay, and the closer you look at the desert, the more interesting small things you find: the way the sun changes the colour of the sand, some little insects that still live there or plants that managed to survive in the harsh conditions. I find it very calm and peaceful because you feel like the things you worry about do not matter once you are there. It gives you a sense of time and perspective.
What would you recommend to watch, listen or read to anyone reading this interview?
I like Pitchfork . It is a music website that reviews new albums of all different genres, so it doesn't matter what kind of music you like, you can always find something interesting. It is a bit snobby in the way they write about music, but it is also something like the desert - in their reviews they show that if you examine music carefully, you will find many interesting things.