A day in the life of Leen Van Aert

Leen Van Aert joined Ahlers in 2008. She is a Financial Controller for the Ahlers group within Corporate Finance. Leen is based in Belgium, Antwerp.

Current job

  • What is your current position? 
    I currently work as Financial Controller for the Ahlers group within Corporate Finance in our office in Antwerp.
  • What responsibilities does it entail? 
    Within the group I’m responsible for reporting & treasury together with my other colleagues within the Corporate Finance team
  • What is an average day like in your current position? 
    On an average day I am working on financial data: consolidating, processing, validating, reconciling, etc.  My most used tools are LucaNet (which is our financial reporting tool within Ahlers), excel and Power BI (which we use for management reporting purposes).


  • How did you get your start in the industry? 
    Before I started at Ahlers, I had no experience at all with logistics or maritime sector. After my short experience within audit sector, I was not looking for any specific industry, but the vacancy within Ahlers at that time was the right fit for me.  I started at the Maritime Services department when I joined Ahlers.
  • What is your (educational) background? 
    I have a Master degree in Applied Economics
  • What positions have you held before this one? 
    After my studies I shortly worked as auditor in an audit company
  • Do you have a mentor or someone that significantly helped you to where you are today? 
    As I worked in different departments/functions within Ahlers during these years, there are many people within Ahlers who played an important role in where I am today. I’ve had the opportunity to work with great colleagues over the years, thanks to whom I have learned a lot, not only on finance itself, but also on other topics like project management or other soft skills.  


  • How has your field evolved since you began? In 2008 when I joined Ahlers and later in 2016 when I joined the Corporate Finance Team, I noticed that quit a big part of data was processed manually and often in an inconsistent and also inefficient way which was very time consuming at that time.  
  • How do you see it evolving further? During the past years within finance we have been focusing on increasing that efficiency by investing in automation and systems but also in people, which creates time and space for analyzing data and getting useful insights out of the data, rather than focusing on consolidating the data itself.
  • What changes would you like to see? Within finance we should keep our focus on innovation and try to increase cooperation between finance and the rest of the organization.


  • What is the focus of your company/ its mission? Customer intimacy is a key element in the Ahlers strategy, which requires people within company to have the right mindset to be flexible and agile. Next to this customer intimacy, I do think Ahlers has also invested in their people and remained loyal to their people over the past years, even in difficult political and economic circumstances.
  • What makes your company different from its competitors?
    Ahlers is forward-thinking. Strategy and focus within Ahlers has logically evolved over the years, but the focus on our core values and ethics has remained the same. The stability within Ahlers over such a long period of time is certainly an important highlight.


  • What do you like most about your job? 
    As we work in an international company, we have the opportunity to work with a large range of people, from different countries and cultures.  The variety of people and interaction between the team is what I like most. Jointly being able to support my colleagues from finance side and making a difference.
  • What would you like people to know about your job? 
    Typically a finance function is defined as a very straightforward function but also within finance there can be challenges. People might sometimes even describe finance as a “necessary evil”, but we try to help & reach out to the other departments as much as possible. Also back-office functions can provide an added value to a company.
  • What do you think the industry could do to attract more youths?
    Exploring new options and ideas to be able to provide healthy work-life balance is a key element in attracting new people in my opinion. People want to work hard, but need to be able to combine it with their private life outside of work as well. Healthy work-life balance with a flexible work environment is a win-win situation for everyone.