Celebrating a work anniversary is an exciting milestone for Catawikians as well as Catawiki. As a company, we strive for everyone to feel empowered to do the best work of their careers. It’s extra special when one-year anniversaries turn into 5, or even a decade. We’re grateful for the dedication and time Catawikians choose to spend with us. We currently have over 100 Catawikians that have been with us for 5+ years, and a growing number of 10+ year team members. In this blog, we put them centre stage and celebrate their accomplishments.

Meet Patrick

Today we shine a spotlight on Patrick Vranken. From noticing the first auction on Catawiki, to spending over ten years at the company as a Comics Expert and a Category Manager, here’s how Patrick helped build the Comics, Music & Cameras categories we know today. 

What made you apply for your first job at Catawiki?

Catawiki’s very first auction was dedicated to Dutch comic books. As a comics enthusiast myself, I had noticed the incredible popularity of Catawiki’s auctions in the first months of 2012. I was convinced the results were too good to be true, and that it could never last! I was proven wrong. At the end of a successful first year, I was contacted by founder René Schoenmakers. He had noticed that French Tintin albums went through the roof in every auction. He needed someone to access the French market, who could kickstart a French comics auction. He was convinced that I would be perfect for the job.

Do you remember your first day?

As I was still considering whether or not to take the job, René suggested I visit the Angoulême festival in January 2013. He asked me to man the first ever Catawiki booth outside of the Netherlands, at the most prestigious European comics festival at the time. Train and lodging were quickly arranged, so it was an offer a comic enthusiast like myself couldn’t refuse. I organised the booth at the festival, spoke with many leads and sensed a lot of interest in Catawiki in France. I came back full of energy and ideas, so René got his way: I signed the contract and my journey as a Catawikian officially began.

How has your job changed over the years?

The first two years, I really enjoyed working as a Comics expert. I onboarded fellow experts Jacques Pels and Rik Lok, the nucleus of what would become a very dynamic team. However, I was still working part time: my ‘real’ job as an IT manager in Brussels still came first. By the end of 2014, at Catawiki’s end-of-year party (back when all of the staff fitted into a single Asian restaurant in Assen), I told Rene it had been a fantastic time, but I could no longer combine it all. That’s when he suggested I become Auction Manager. Once again, René was ahead of anyone else and had laid out a plan for the future. 

What is the biggest lesson you learned?

I was Catawiki’s first non-Dutch employee. I soon learned that when you work for a Dutch company, modesty doesn’t translate. It’s ironic perhaps, as it confirmed prejudices we have in Belgium about the Dutch. You need to be very self confident, even though at the end of the day the most important thing is you deliver quality work, of course.

What’s your favourite memory?

In the first two years as an Auction Manager, I worked in the Assen office about two days a week. Interviews with applicants were scheduled on a weekly basis at the time. I hired at least 200 experts in that period… Most of them are still around – some of them have become seniors over the years and some even managers. I am proud of all of them. An amazing display of Europe’s expertise in various categories passed by my desk: French stamp experts, Italian classic cars experts, Spanish archeology experts, German model cars experts, Portuguese jewellery experts, and much more. I really enjoyed these conversations, and when they had convinced me, it was my honour to welcome them to the ultimate job to live out their passions. This was often an emotional moment for a new expert. 

What’s your biggest passion?

I have been a passionate collector since childhood. Collecting itself has lost a bit of its glamour for me though. Can you still enjoy eating chocolate when you work in a chocolate factory every day? However, I do still enjoy finding ways of being creative and finding solutions. In the end, successfully organising things that seem to be hopeless at the start, seems to be my biggest passion. 

What is your biggest hope for the next decade of Catawiki?

Ever since my first week in 2013, I have always been a believer in the potential of Catawiki, even in harder times of doubt and confusion. Catawiki simply has to become the biggest worldwide online marketplace for special objects. I am working on a big USA collection of books and comics at the moment. I encounter the same kind of audience over there that is very interested in what makes Catawiki special. A breakthrough in the US in the next decade certainly tops my personal wishing list. 

What is something people might not know about you?

Some do know that at heart I only dream of music. I started a band when I was 17, and when I became 32 I said to myself: it’s time to stop and grow up. I should have known better, you’re never too old for rock ‘n roll. In fact, I shouldn’t even be here – my ambition has always been to be a professional musician on a permanent tour. 🙂

Tell us about one of your favourite ‘firsts’ at Catawiki!

The first time we organised a stand at the Blois comics festival in France with Louis Girard as French Comics expert and Frédéric Caufriez as our Sales wizard was a fantastic experience. We succeeded in onboarding leads that would open new doors for us. It became the blueprint for many festivals to follow. Starting brainstorming at breakfast until late at night in the right company, combining creative thoughts, serious plans and laughs is definitely my thing. It certainly taught me how a good team is always stronger than an individual, however talented.

Who are you outside of the office? What do you like to do for fun?

Besides still playing and creating music every day, I enjoy visiting any city – looking for the streets with second hand shops and flea markets. A walk in the hills is very nice, riding my bike in the Belgian countryside is fun but all the time I can’t wait till I’m back in town!

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