Team Cake: this is Jef

By Davy Kestens

Meet the people behind Cake in this interview series. Today, it’s up to Jef, Business Developer at Cake.

Name: Jef Claesen		
Role: Business Development	
Making Cake since: June 2022
Location: Mol, Belgium

How did you end up working at Cake?

After my studies, I started working as an account manager for a company whose clients were mainly farmers. That was an interesting period where I learned a lot. But after a few years, it was time for something different and I ended up at Saleswise, a company that Cake works with to supplement their existing sales team. Saleswise was recruiting a new team member for Cake, and that is how I got here.

Do you have any regrets from leaving your previous employer and switching to Cake?

No, not one second of regret. So far, I’ve really enjoyed my time here and I would immediately make the same choice again.

Tell us about your work environment.

My workplace varies sometimes. About 2 days a week, I work at my home, sometimes at my girlfriend’s place and the rest in a co-working office not too far from where I live. It’s nice to have the flexibility and be able to work from wherever I feel like working on any given day.

My girlfriend and I don’t live together yet, but we are renovating a house. We purchased it just before the COVID lockdown and now we are renovating it ourselves. Due to the inflation we are progressing slower than planned. We will get there eventually though. We are also planning to set up a home office for me in that house.

What do you do at Cake?

It’s my job to make it possible for consumers to benefit from great offers. Therefore,  we need commercial partners who want to attract new customers and have them earn cashbacks through Cake’s integration with banks. 

So I am mainly occupied finding leads, making appointments, explaining our product to them and giving demos. Pretty much everything that has to do with the commercial side of Cake. I work together with two great colleagues Robby and Tom. We are in daily contact via Slack, weekly via videocalls and we organise after-work meetups together when possible. Due to Cake’s strong growth, two more colleagues will soon join our sales team in September.

Your experience is different from working in the agricultural sector?

Haha, yes it is. Not that I didn’t enjoy working for the farmers, on the contrary. But I really like the product Cake has to offer. On the one hand, you make consumers happy because their bank accounts are paying off; on the other hand, you make our commercial partners happy because they can attract new customers or reward existing ones with high returns. It is also great what Cake can do with statistics and insights without sharing any personal data. It also feels good that I can contribute to something greater at Cake, that I have an impact. Both for hundreds of thousands of individual people and our commercial partners.

What kind of commercial partners would you like to bring into Cake?

We already have a nice list of brands as partners, but I feel we can do more within the events sector. Theme parks, cinemas, festivals and the likes. Those kinds of companies or organizations. Or very large companies with an international presence. We already have some, but we can always use more.

What were your first impressions after your initial month at Cake?

It’s great. As far as I can tell, Cake has a way of empowering every team member from day one, which makes the work even more meaningful. And even though it’s a fully remote work environment, I still feel very connected to my team. It will be difficult to go work for another company that doesn’t have a similar culture. In particular, the freedom, flexibility, and responsibility at Cake are hard to find at other companies. 

Unless you start one yourself.

Yes, that’s right. In time, I can see myself starting my own company. But first I need to gain some experience and pack as much as I can into my backpack.

Really? And what company?

Yes, I do have the ambition to start my own company. What kind of business, I do not know yet. As I said, I first need to gain some experience. It is not for now.

What do you think about working from home?

It’s great. I have all the freedom to organize my time myself. For example, I can go to the barber during the day, I then simply work a bit longer in the evening. No colleague will be surprised if my calendar mentions “haircut” in the middle of the day. It’s nice that Cake gives me that trust. Working from home also means I don’t lose any time in traffic and I can clearly tell that I am more productive working from home than in an office.

What does your standard day look like?

I start the day with a piece of fruit and coffee. Breakfast isn’t my thing. I start between 8 am and 9 am. My day usually starts with reviewing the leads I will be approaching that day. Through Slack and Google Meet I keep in touch with my colleagues and we agree on who approaches which leads and what is important to know about certain clients. I usually end my working day around five or six o’clock.

Which famous person would you like to have lunch with?

Joe Rogan seems like an interesting person to talk to for a few hours. He does podcasts with a lot of famous people. I enjoy listening to his podcast and admire how he can make a conversation interesting.

What is your favourite meal?

Oh, it might be cliché, but it’s steak and chips.

More details, please.

A plain Belgian White with freshly cut fries and pepper sauce. That’s all it takes. Perhaps a fresh salad to go with it.

Where did you last eat well?

At ‘de Bosduif’ in Merksplas. That’s one of the better brasseries where I often go for dinner. You can eat a good steak there too, by the way.

What is your favourite movie?

Funny you ask, I watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the 189th time last week.

189 times. Are you serious?

It’s a really good movie.

Apart from Lord of the Rings, do you have time for hobbies?

I used to play football intensively. I had youth training as a goalkeeper, first at FC Eindhoven and then at Lommel. As a teenager, I trained there 4 to 5 times a week. In my early twenties, I defended the goal of Witgoor Dessel, a fourth division team, for a few years. In recent years, I played for local clubs on a lower level, but recently I hung up my football trainers. Renovating our house takes up quite a lot of our free time. So construction work has now become my new hobby. 

What do you dare to spend a lot of money on?

I dare to spend money on good food. Enjoying a good restaurant or a gastronomic weekend. These are things that I sometimes go all out on.

What is at the top of your bucket list?

Hm, I have a long list of things, but if I have to pick one, it would be jumping out of an airplane.

Oh, dear?

With a parachute. That sounds like fun.

Finally, what is your favourite cake?

Apple cake.

With a scoop of ice cream?

No, plain and pure. Or not. You can have a coffee with it. And a whiskey. Blue Label by Johnnie Walker.

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