With an 11-year tenure at CLIQ, our Technology Director embodies a story of transformation and visionary leadership. Educated in Music & Technology at Utrecht University of the Arts (HKU), he began his career blending creativity with technology, composing music for TV commercials and pioneering in the ringtone industry. His journey took a pivotal turn towards software development, focusing on automation and technological innovation.

Henri joined CLIQ Digital as a senior developer and his expertise and forward-thinking approach have promoted him to the role of Technology Director. Under his stewardship, CLIQ Digital has thrived, navigating the digital landscape with agility and strategic foresight.

Henri is living in The Hague with his wife of 21 years, together they have two children and one Jack Russell, Pukkie. In this personal interview with him, you find out more.

Hi Henri. What did you want to become as a kid?

As a kid, I never really had a solid idea of what I wanted to become. I was quite good at playing the trumpet and I taught myself how to play keyboards. On my MSX Home Computer, I was already composing “bleepy” songs, written in the programming language BASIC at the age of 9.

I guess my true passion for creative IT started when my father bought an Atari ST computer. It allowed for hooking up the music keyboard with MIDI cables and recording multi-track music.

I would reproduce existing popular songs or musical pieces and sometimes write my own compositions. I never really aspired to become a famous musician but making a living with what I loved to do most, producing and playing music, then became my goal. This is why I chose to study Music & Technology.

What is your biggest strength and what is your biggest weakness?

I believe my biggest strength is the creativity I started developing from a young age. Being creative is a great asset in the Technology field. It helps you to think outside the box when developing solutions for sometimes complex challenges. This can also become somewhat of a pitfall; I sometimes have to remind myself to keep looking towards the horizon.

What does a regular workday look like for you?

A typical workday starts with listening in on a few online “standup” meetings to understand what all the different Tech teams are working on and if they’re encountering any challenges. Then catching up on e-mails, although I usually try to keep those up to date throughout the day. An empty inbox helps your colleagues to continue with their daily tasks. The rest of my workday is very diverse and that is what I love most about my job. From speaking to business owners translating their requirements into technical solutions, recruiting new Tech talent, developing long-term strategies, aligning with Tech partners, and speaking with developers, to dealing with the inevitable “little fires”; there’s never a dull moment.

What was the biggest challenge you have overcome so far?

There isn’t one challenge that sticks out, but in general, the hardest thing is always to ‘kill your darlings’. I got to know that term when I was still composing music for TV Commercials and other productions. Sometimes the single part of your creation you were most proud of, would be challenged by the creative director. Most people will have a project, a product, a code base, a methodology, or something else in their company that they feel strongly connected to.

It takes effort to admit when it’s either not fitting the overall company requirements anymore, or when someone else comes up with a better solution. So, you take a deep breath, look at the facts and grab the bull by the horns.

How do you define success?

For me, success is about reaching the goals you set out for yourself. Goals can be about career- or personal growth, but also about finishing a project to satisfaction, maintaining a happy work-life balance, making sure the team is still happy, or changing habits.

When was the last time you changed your mind about something important?

Even though I’m not so stubborn that I never change my mind, I try to avoid getting into situations where I have to change my mind. When an opinion needs to be formed about something important, I try to get the facts and opinions of the people around me. Weighing the pros and cons together usually leads to a standpoint that has a solid base everyone can work with.

What makes you truly happy?

Call me very Dutch, but I’m most happy sitting on a foldable chair in front of my 1978 foldable caravan on a campsite somewhere in the east of the Netherlands, with my family, in summer.

Describe how you envision a regular Monday in 5 years.

I honestly hope that this Monday in 5 years still starts at the CLIQ office. People come and people go, but there’s something so unique about the culture at CLIQ that I would not easily trade it for anything else.

What’s your personal favourite CLIQ content?

There’s always something magical around live concerts. If you can’t be there in person, the recording is the next best thing. CLIQ has a great catalogue of live concerts and I’ve enjoyed many of them.

And last but not least: If you could travel back in time to any tech era, which one would it be and what piece of modern technology would you take with you to blow people’s minds?

Born in 1976, I was fortunate enough to witness the rise of most of the technological advancements in computing we’re used to right now. Every couple of years there was something completely new to be amazed about. If I had this time machine I would travel into the future and not into the past. We know technology is inevitably going to evolve into something we cannot even begin to imagine right now. It’s both exciting and a little bit scary. But throughout the years, people have always been afraid of what new technologies would bring.

My motto is to keep an open mind for the good things we can achieve with new technological innovations but keep a close eye on what harm it can do too. This is nothing new though, humankind has been doing this for centuries.

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