"Secretly very proud of YOUCA"

Early this month, Ellen Dereymaeker handed on the torch to Jolien Vanden Wyngaert as new coordinator of YOUCA. Ellen accepts a new challenge, at Colruyt Group as it happens.

Hello Ellen, how nice to meet you here at Colruyt Group. Tell us all about your new job. 

I am a Project Manager at People & Organisation. I will mainly steer projects of Colruyt Group Academy, the training and workshop expert of Colruyt Group, in the right direction. It is my task to make schedules, connect people, make sure things are actually done and all this within the timing and budget agreed on. Quite a challenge, but I am really looking forward to it.

Has the cooperation between YOUCA and Colibri Foundation something to do with the fact that you are working here now?

Of course it does. Thanks to the many years' cooperation, I got to know Colruyt Group as a company with a vision and values I can completely agree with. As the coordinator of YOUCA, I thought it was fantastic that Colruyt Group engages in the development and growth of people, not just its own co-workers. Thanks to the Academy, customers can also learn things and Collibri Foundation supports education projects for young people. I am a fan! (laughs)

How does it feel to leave YOUCA after so many years? You did found it after all.

This decision was not made in one day, but rather over a period of two years (laughs). It was not an easy decision, but when I eventually made it, I was 100% ready. I was able to close things at YOUCA nicely; it was the perfect timing to leave the organisation.

During the last few months, I mainly worked on the internal professionalisation of the organisation. I helped write the strategic long-range plan until 2020. And I had time to help Jolien settle into the job and introduce her to the different organisations and co-workers. I also received a lovely farewell at the annual summer aperitif with the young people at the end of June. I also wrote a blogpost about if for the YOUCA website. 

How do you look back on your time and realisations at YOUCA?

It was a wonderful time, I was happy to go to work every single day. It hasn't always been all roses though. At the start, YOUCA had a lot of ups and downs, financial insecurity, the lack of a clear framework. But we were so very enthusiastic and we wanted to really go for it. People, and especially the youngsters I worked with, were bursting with energy and enthusiasm to make everything work and that is what made it so great.

Now that I have stopped, I can appreciate what I did with many other people much more. And I don't just mean the way YOUCA has grown from 500 to 17,000 participants a year, but also the quality of the youth work, the internal growth of the organisation, the impact on young people worldwide, the financial support for projects. Secretly, I am very proud of all that now.

Jolien, whom we recently interviewed, is taking over from you now. Can you give her some tips? What do you wish for her?

For starters I want to wish her good luck. It will be a challenge to make the strategic long-range plan operational, but she is a strong lady. She can do it. Furthermore, I wish her a fantastic time. She will undoubtedly be staggered when she sees how many strong youngsters are working in our organisation. She will see many young people make a career and that is lovely to experience. I don't think there are many jobs like hers at YOUCA, so she should really enjoy it.

And we also wish you good luck with your new challenge at Colruyt Group!

Do you want to know more about YOUCA? Read all about it on our project page.

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