We often say that the solid foundation that is Clay Solutions wouldn’t exist without its talented team of Bricks. With that being said, all teams have an anchor who champions their team and sets their sights on rewarding goals. At Clay, this role is filled by Bart Klaver who began his journey at the company nearly 6 years ago and took on the role of our Managing Director in July 2020.
Clay has grown as a company over the past year in both its size and ambition, delivering higher functionality and performance for the cloud-based access control solution SALTO KS. As Managing Director, Bart oversees the strategy, operations, and performance of Clay, uniting our team and making important decisions both technical and commercial. To mark the occasion of his one-year anniversary in this role, we decided to catch up with Bart to reflect on this first year, introduce him to our readers, and congratulate him on behalf of our entire team!
Bart has given us the opportunity to pick his brain for us to get to know him a bit better, as well as give us insight into the future of Clay and his views on leadership. Read on to find out all of this and more.
Hi Bart! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Bart Klaver. I was born and raised in the north of the Netherlands. No, that’s not Friesland (yet). Spending most of my childhood with friends and early work life outside, I later on decided to start studying Business Informatics. This was a big change in comparison to my childhood, spending most of my time inside rather than being outside. It became apparent that I liked to work with software, workflows, diagrams but mainly with people. After graduating I started working at Hunite; this is where I did my final internship. I worked there for 8 years. We evolved from a company delivering software solutions to small and medium businesses to a company that delivered software to enterprise-grade customers.
When did your journey at Clay Solutions begin? Can you describe how you got acquainted with the company?
As a result of my previous work experience, I set out to work at a product company, with (very) involved founders/management and a killer team. This was not easy to find and I took some time to actually get acquainted with the right types of companies and I started doing job interviews. After the interview with the founders Xander and Rick, it was clear to me that this product, team and company entailed everything that I was in search of.
What do you like most about working at Clay?
The tight-knit culture of the team, the open and honest communication style(s), the celebration moments (have really been missing this one), and the awesome people!
How would you describe the company culture? Has anything changed since you first started?
The culture within the company is one where we build on trust, open discussions, combining different viewpoints, trying, failing and in the end, usually, succeeding. The combination of a team with well over 20 different nationalities, a direction, the right tooling and the will to succeed makes for an enjoyable and challenging company culture.
The focus is now more customer and solutions-oriented. Which helps the team to be aware of who they’re actually building the awesome solutions for.
Exactly a year ago, you became Managing Director of Clay Solutions; Congratulations! In what way have your daily tasks changed by taking on this new role within the company?
Thank you! In essence, my daily tasks both have and haven’t changed a lot. The team has made a very positive impact on my role change and each of the team members have stepped up greatly to help me succeed in the role. In that sense the change has been mainly an impact on the calendar and trying to squeeze in more than what fits, leading to some spillover in the evenings 😉
“The combination of a team with well over 20 different nationalities, a direction, the right tooling and the will to succeed makes for an enjoyable and challenging company culture.”
Do you have a favourite product or project in the SALTO KS product portfolio which you are most proud of or will always remember?
I think I will always be very close to the projects which are ‘under the hood’. From the start, one of the biggest themes has always been the scalability ‘ahead of demand’ of the KS platform. Personally, it makes me very proud to see our evolution from when we first started and how we have continuously evolved the product to what we are today.
What, according to you, makes Clay stand out as a company?
The people, and again the company culture. I think I would not have enjoyed working here for this long (more than 6 years!) if we didn’t have such an awesome team contributing on a daily basis!
“Each new Brick that is added to the company actually finds their own spot and makes our foundation stronger.”
What is one characteristic that you believe is essential to have when leading a team?
I was always under the assumption that hard work was the right way to success. But honestly, I have to say that working at Clay has changed my approach to this. The core of my being is still based on (a lot of) hard work, but the characteristics that add even more value are empathy, calmness, and willingness to really listen to people, be inclusive to people, and having (and keeping) the right and honest people close to you.
If you weren't building your company, what would you be doing?
Actually, I am quite sure that my next job will be a big change of field (literally). Growing up in between farmland; this will always have a lot of my heart. Still, I can’t fully process how data, farmland, machines and my capabilities should come together. But one day I will be combining inside and outside work!
How do you see SALTO KS moving forward in the future?
Excel in customer satisfaction and set a new bar in cloud-connected devices. The world of IoT and smart devices has a long way to go, we can not sit back and relax with our current position.
“I foresee a larger scale of operation, increase in integrations and applying modern ways of working to keep ensuring doors open when they should be opening.”
Each day we’re uncovering more potential in the market, with our customers, integration partners and on a technical level. There is much more to come for this dynamic team, so stay tuned.
What is your biggest lesson learned on this journey?
Ok, this is quite a hard question to answer. I had written down some considerations which I thought were the most important, but I think there is not a ‘biggest lesson learned’. When looking back at joining 6 years ago and the person I am today, I would say that I have put more emphasis on my soft skills while not neglecting the ‘hard’ and factual part.
In the past, I would say I was the other way around, but over the years and through the various projects completed, I now see things differently.
What is your favourite (business) book?
I like all books by Stephen Covey, personally, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has grown to be my favourite business book.
What was the best advice anyone ever gave you, and did you follow it?
In general, I’m not really the person that is following advice and I want to figure out and see everything for myself. Probably it’s needless to say, but I’m quite stubborn. Honestly speaking, the right people around me have helped me to understand that you don’t have to carry all the thoughts, and therefore weight, by yourself.
It’s easier to open up, talk, discuss and conclude matters together. This is also way more fun when it works out!
Thank you Bart for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences so far as Managing Director at Clay. We appreciate your honesty, advice, and lessons learned on your journey in this team thus far. Here’s to celebrating more milestones in your future and needless to say we will be ordering a copy of ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ right away!
Clay Solutions is the company that build the cloud-based access control solution SALTO KS, offered by mother company Salto Systems. Clay’s specialists (aka Bricks) are constantly discovering innovative access management solutions. As we release new features, our API expands so you can offer more features and convenience to your customers. On my-clay.com we give you a sneak peek and show you what goes on behind the scenes of a software company. Get to know the Bricks, read what the team is working on, what technologies we use, how we nourish our company culture and last but certainly not least: how to #becomeabrick