From operator to team leader: Steven has a heart for logistics, learning and people

Steven Vandecasteele (34) wasn’t cut out for school but today he is hooked on lifelong learning.

15 February 2023

Steven Vandecasteele (34) wasn’t cut out for school but today he is hooked on lifelong learning. Thanks to his enthusiasm and his perfectionist attitude he is rising rapidly through the Unilin ranks. “I feel there’s still room to grow in my current job. I always aim to do better.”


Love drew Steven to Ghent when he was just seventeen. “I immediately moved in with my girlfriend so that also meant I had to earn a living at a very young age. After my apprenticeship I started working as a self-employed operator at my previous employer and four years later I was the warehouse manager.”

From temp to team leader

That experience served him well when he started working as a temp in the marketing materials warehouse of Unilin Flooring in 2014. “In 2015 they gave me a permanent contract as a logistics employee and in 2017 I took on the role of logistics coordinator, making me the first point of contact on the work floor in case of problems.” Two years later, in 2019, he was in charge of a team of eight permanent employees and five social enterprise workers. 

Trust generates responsibility

“Looking back, my career has evolved very quickly but there was never a grand masterplan”, he says. “It just grew organically because I quickly earned the trust of my team leader, who gave me more responsibility. I started taking additional courses on my own initiative, which invariably led to a role with more responsibility.”

Fascinated by logistics

He mainly took these courses to stay up-to-date and to tackle his new roles in the right way. “Back in the day learning wasn’t my thing, but it is now. Continuous learning has only fed my interest in logistics. The more I know, the more I want to learn. Logistics is a challenging sector: meeting deadlines takes a great deal of planning and level-headedness and that’s a good fit for me. It’s in my character to have everything just so. I must admit I’m a bit of a control freak (laughs).”

Keep improving

Steven says that being in charge of other people was never his ambition. “It was my team leader at the time who gave me a nudge. I helped him settle into his job and that’s how I became his right-hand man. That is also the case with my current immediate superior.”

To fulfil his role as team leader to the best of his ability Steven once again took several courses: on Zero Harm, on people management, ... “Because I always want to do better, I want to keep working on my soft skills, which come in handy when you have to manage a team. For instance, I want to learn more about asking the right questions during assessment interviews. I already took a course for that - very interesting by the way - and it’s a subject I want to explore further.” 

Respectful collaboration is something you can learn

He not only does this for himself but mainly to learn how to work together more effectively with his team members. “We also have social enterprise workers here, each of whom require a specific approach. It takes a lot of empathy: you have to be a good listener and show interest. As a result, working together in a respectful manner is very important on our work floor. New employees are told in advance they will be working with social enterprise workers and that avoids many conflict situations.”