“We are looking for people who can help us design the technology of tomorrow,” says Harold Goddijn, CEO and co-founder of TomTom. “We don’t only supply maps, but also vast amounts of data for autonomous driving and electric vehicles. We work closely with the likes of Ford, BMW, Renault, Peugeot and Fiat. We develop innovative products, such as fitness trackers and sports watches, in our consumer sports business. We make business-to-business software systems, licensing mapping technology to Apple and Uber. We take an active role in making roads safer, fighting congestion and controlling emissions.”

When Dutch tech firm TomTom was founded 25 years ago, it was developing business applications for hand-held computers. Since specialising in navigation software it has sold close to 100 million sat-nav devices, relieving the stresses of paper map reading. It has also diversified into many other hardware and software product developments; and its four founders are keener than ever to recruit a new generation to lead the way towards the technological developments of the future.


Driven by innovation

Built into TomTom’s graduate trainee system is a strategy where employees are given a little more responsibility than they think they can handle. “We are competing in a war for talent against some of best technology companies in the world, and the only way to beat them is to outsmart them,” says Arne-Christian van der Tang, who heads the firm’s global human resources department. “We need people who fit into an organisation that thrives on innovation and who want to make the TomTom story their own story. Our graduate programme focuses on product management and software engineering, as well as offering opportunities in other areas. We target between eight and 15 graduates each year, and we want them to be hands-on from the word ‘go’. The first month is devoted to orientation: travelling to different offices, meeting the founders and getting established with their teams and in their new roles. We want them to achieve more by giving them real roles with real responsibilities. They need more than great qualifications; our ideal candidates might have their own start-ups, to prove their entrepreneurialism.”

Global roles

In return, TomTom, which currently operates out of 56 offices in 37 countries, offers innovative graduates a role in an international company that values independent, autonomous thinking. The founders are still involved in the day-to-day running of the company, which means that the unique culture they instigated is still a tangible asset. It also means that graduates meet the founders at assessment days held for potential recruits.

“We carry out technical-ability testing and psychometric testing,” says van der Tang. “We then invite potential recruits to assessment days at our head office in Amsterdam, where they try to prove to us they are right for the role and our culture. We share our story, which we hope they want to be part of.”

Successful recruits are given the opportunity to work for a company eager to outthink and outmanoeuvre it competitors. “It’s a great place to work,” says Goddijn. “There’s lots of new technology being developed; cutting-edge stuff. And with a little bit of specialisation you can really make you mark. You can achieve a lot at TomTom in a short space of time.”