Heidi joined Namahn in 1998. With a passion for Philosophy and Languages, she immersed herself in the field of Language Philosophy at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Science’s quest to uncover the mysteries of how the human brain operates, its malfunctions and effects on linguistic capabilities still retains its fascination for her. While all this might suggest that she is one of the more serious breeds of the female species, all good things in life appeal to Heidi; including first-rate BBC comedies, detective series and documentaries. She is also an avid fan of Belgian comics, owning some 1,400 of them! Above all, Trekkie blood runs through her veins; she faithfully watches at least one taped Star Trek episode nightly before “regenerating”. She is known to arrive at work still wearing her combadge and her colleagues are accustomed to the ‘trekkie’ signature on her e-mail messages.
You take your passions very seriously. What is the link between them?
It’s no coincidence that I’m such a big Star Trek fan. For me, Star Trek is the synergy of Philosophy, Language, Science and Technology. Initially, viewers might appreciate the suspense, special effects and excitement of the outstanding Star Trek scripts. But Star Trek is multi-layered; it depicts a peaceful and very open-minded federation of different planets with languages and physiologies, focused on sharing knowledge about culture, history as well as philosophical and moral issues. It deals with the confrontation and communication of different species, some cybernetically or genetically enhanced, androids and even holograms. My favourite episodes are about the interaction between Androids and Men and how both can benefit and learn from it.
How does your work experience relate to Namahn?
I worked in the academic world for 14 years and discovered that improving my communication skills combined with common sense and organising talents were often decisive in solving delicate and highly stressful situations. I never turn down a challenge; I just make sure I think first before I act. Whether in the academic or the business world, you always deal with people first. Their problems are your problems if you intend to work and communicate efficiently. Professionally, my goal has always been ‘the greater good of the many’. Coming to Namahn has brought me much closer to that ‘Utopia’; doing the best you can and improving yourself for the people around you whom you consider first as sensitive and sensible people, not just as mere colleagues. Namahn is not just any company; it reflects the chemistry of the ‘Namahni’—the people who work here. After working at Namahn for several years, I know that it truly is very much a company with a beating heart.
How do you see your abilities and work experience as contributing to what you do at Namahn?
As mentioned earlier, I take pride in thinking before acting. As a Personnel and Finance Administrator and Office Manager, I have to keep one eye on the ‘euro’ and another on the well being of the ‘Namahni’. It isn’t just an issue of taking ‘budgetary’ decisions—‘the euro stops here’—rather, it’s how you communicate and justify decisions. It goes back to my communication and organising skills, combined with a strong critical thinking and planning ahead to ensure that Namahn and its people have a secure future. I am, so to speak, Namahn’s ‘petite’ watchdog, who—even off guard—sleeps with at least one eye open.
Which fictional character would you most like to meet?
I’m deeply inspired by Star Trek characters, like Lt. Data, a funny and artificially intelligent android who, in his search for what it is and feels like to be human, puts us—mortals of flesh and blood—in perspective and helps us realise how ‘defective’ we are, and Seven of Nine, a former Borg drone (unwillingly and cybernetically assimilated and enhanced by the Borg) who struggles with her renewed humanity while serving aboard a Star fleet vessel.
What is your biggest passion?
My soul mate, a.k.a. husband, my friends, Namahn and Star Trek. I cannot prioritise the latter two passions. In a sense, Namahn is my own little private Star Fleet vessel.
What attracted you to Namahn?
Pieter, a friend and colleague, and the library where I had my job interview. The moment I looked at the bookshelves and the wealth of knowledge, I was sold. I knew that this company prides itself on an open mind. Then I felt energised to work in a company that was so cosmopolitan. To me, now an ‘old-timer’, Namahn has not lost a bit of its charm. At times, work here becomes hectic, but those moments are often the most satisfying and exciting. Namahn is a firm with character and ethics. People here work to improve their skills to serve the customer even better, because they take great pride in their work, and care about quality.
What living person do you most admire?
Admiration comes in different shades and layers. I don’t often ‘admire’ living persons; I am too busy loving them just the way they are… and discovering that most people are heroes in their own right, struggling with their imperfections and trying to improve day by day. In my book, this is truly worthy of admiration. As an avid reader I adore Umberto Eco and would love to have long discussions with him until the small hours. As a geopolitically minded person, I would love to brainstorm with Noam Chomsky and Michail Gorbatchev.