Originally from South Africa and born in Zimbabwe, Zithe Kamesa decided during the pandemic to study her masters in HR at the University of Tilburg: ‘’I decided to move and study in a whole different country, let alone continent, and to eventually start working as well, here in the land of all thing’s orange and tulip ornated. A very bold and exciting move which suits me because from a young age I was always keen to travel. My parents saw to it that I knew that there is so much more to achieve, do and see. Either in South Africa or wherever else; I wanted to have that experience.’’ Zithe learnt that The Netherlands has a great education system and even better opportunities to amplify a career. This supported both her decisions to study in Tilburg, which helped her get well acquainted with Dutch life, and eventually then working at Quintop, in Utrecht which was fitting for her next career pursuit.

From Tilburg to Utrecht

Quintop HR consultants felt like a great fit for Zithe, both as a reflection to her personality and what she wants to learn further within her career: ‘’Quintop expressed that they hoped to employ more international candidates from which they could also learn. I, at this stage after doing internships in change management in both local and international contexts, knew I was interested in working in a company like Quintop. I wanted to do and know more about the people side of business. I think now more than ever, human centricity is at the tip of everyone’s tongue and it’s great to be at that forefront of such expertise in this organization.’’

Having moved to the Netherlands Zithe already had some expectations of Dutch people characteristically and culturally. She in her experience the Dutch are generally very happy people. She smiled: ‘’Despite that they love to complain about the weather, they are happy and very interested in cultural exchange and getting to know more about you. That comes with some directness which can often be misconstrued for harshness or being impolite but quite honestly, I like this way of working at times. It saves time, and most importantly you can be just that, straight to the point. This does, however, contrast the expressiveness and warm-er culture I am used to together with the patience and bouts of charisma. Not that it doesn’t exist here just lesser, up until you have acquainted yourself with Dutch people more closely. It does not matter that I am not Dutch, so long as we are always having open dialogue, mutual respect and understand our differences. At the end of the day everyone knows something you don’t (whether you are from the Netherlands, South Africa or somewhere else) and it takes that openness and willingness to uncover such, both ways.’’

People side of business

Quintop’s keen eye on the people side of business, generally checking in and looking out for each other is something Zithe really appreciates. Besides that, she states that the mentoring is also a great way to align her professional goals to her personal ones and following up on these regularly: ‘’I learn something new almost every day about Dutch life and that’s mostly from all my colleagues and friends. That’s enough for anyone to feel at ease I would say, it makes this massive changeover in countries worthwhile and exciting. Not to mention our shared lunch time in the office with good conversation, that together with our weekly ‘borrels’, speaks to great camaraderie.’’

Take a leap into the unknown

‘’To anybody who might be searching for a new opportunity or a new adventure in the Netherlands, you should do it: The Dutch working culture has a deep appreciation for work-life balance and I feel that there is a deep sense of community, mutual respect, and friendship. I feel this to be of great importance to me having moved so far away from home. This becomes apparent with the conversations you exchange with colleagues, to making plans outside of the workplace and the help offered to make sure you are always comfortable’’, Zithe says.

Lastly, she advises to anyone to find something you are equally passionate about and to find a working place that supports your passion: ‘’Find yourself a place where your ideas are welcome, especially because you bring in a different perspective to some challenges. Consultancy is a career to do if you enjoy these kinds of challenges. There is always something to learn and you just never know what the next opportunity might bring, this is due to the diversity and novelty of solving business problems across multiple different industries. So, take the leap into the unknown, it could be everything you hoped for’’.

Zithe Kamesa is 24 years old and started the High Potentials trainee programme at Quintop in May 2022. She has a master’s degree in international management, a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) in Communication Management and a Bachelor of Commerce in Business Management. She is currently working as a junior PMO HR analyst, within which she has worked on two different projects thus far. One was to create a new way for the organisation to conduct their midyear conversations in a more human centric way and integrating this into their HR system. Thereafter, obtaining data and analysing the results for a companywide report out. Second, was to optimize and update their company handbook to make it more digitally interactive, redesign it and co-ordinate activities within this process in phased launches.

Curious about the traineeship at Quintop? Apply here!

Congratulations! You have completed Quintop's traineeship, (the High Potential programme). How did you like it?

It was a fun and educational experience. In the High Potential programme, on one hand, you work on challenging client assignments. In addition, you follow training courses at Quintop. Through this combination, you build up knowledge and experience within HR as quickly as possible.

I did assignments at two companies. One as a Junior HR Business Partner and at the other as an HR Project Manager Officer (PMO).

As a Junior HR Business Partner, you are the linking pin and point of contact for employees, as well as a sparring partner for management.  This includes advising managers and management on HR issues, coordinating HR Business-related projects, and supporting organisational development initiatives. You translate the organisation’s strategy into HR objectives.

As HR Project Manager Officer (PMO), I helped a start-up implement a new HR software system. On behalf of Quintop, I supported the project team by ensuring clear project planning, stakeholder management and monitoring project progress. When necessary, I also intervened in time to keep the project on the right track and prevent escalation.

And besides work, you also attended training courses, right?

That’s right, the training courses are facilitated by Quintop and are very diverse. They can be divided into the following main subjects: personal development, communication skills, project management, HR and acquisition.

It adds up to what you learn in practice and keeps you up to date on the latest developments & trends in HR. The two training sessions on communication were my favourite. What style of communication does someone prefer? How can you best anticipate this and stay true to yourself? There was also an actor involved with whom we practised conversations. So very instructive! You don’t learn these skills from books.

I also found the training sessions very enjoyable because you follow them together with the other trainees. Everyone works a lot for the customer, and it is great to get together and exchange experiences. You quickly get to know each other well. And it wouldn’t be Quintop if we didn’t end with some end-of-the-day drinks.

Unlike other trainees, you went through the programme slightly differently. Can you explain?

That’s right, there are two reasons: first, I started just as Covid-19 was breaking out. Because everyone had to work from home, I only saw my team and the organisation in real life after six months. The contact has been different as a result, it demands a different way of communicating.

In addition, I spent a relatively long time with a client. At the organisation where I worked as a Junior HR Business Partner, I got the chance to take on many different roles and projects within the two years of our traineeship. That was hugely educational! There was a lot of variety in it, so when both I and the client wanted to extend, Quintop also agreed. Quintop’s condition is that you continue to learn and develop during your traineeship, and fortunately that was possible this way.

Was there anything you were nervous about beforehand? How did it work out in the end?

It was my first real role with a large customer and like many I found that very exciting, but also a bit nerve-racking. Can I do it? What if I don’t understand any of it? When I started the assignment, I was nervous about the unknown, but that comes naturally once you start. I have learned that sometimes you just have to let things happen to you. In many cases, it will work out on its own.

Were you well supported as a starter?

Yes, the guidance from Quintop is very good. During my mentor meetings, we regularly talked about my development, but I could also go to my mentor if I had a problem or wanted to spar. In addition, really all Quintoppers are there for you if you have a question about a topic. Quintop is a small and close group where everyone is happy to help you, so you don’t have to worry about being on your own.

In addition, unlike other traineeships, you have intervision. Together with your fellow trainees, you form an intervision group. In this group, you discuss situations -cases- you encounter in your work and brainstorm together on appropriate solutions. It is a nice way to share experiences with each other and to look together at how to solve them.

What would you like to pass on to future trainees?

Ultimately, you control your own development and growth. Quintop helps you a lot, but you are in the driving seat – so really make a choice based on what suits you. And don’t forget to enjoy your traineeship! Enjoy the drinks, organised outings and of course the anniversary trip with your colleagues. Life is more than just work.

Melika Parikhah is 27 and started traineeship of Quintop in October 2020, during Covid-19. With a master’s in human resource studies and a completed traineeship, Melika is now continuing as a Consultant at Quintop. She looks forward to the Personal Leadership Programme of Quintop that she will follow with the other (senior) consultants. In addition, she is ready for new assignments in a heavier role.

 

Join our traineeship: Apply here

What strikes me the most?

I have noticed that everyone at Quintop is always willing to help each other, we also jokingly call each other our second family. This is nice if you run into something, for example. This commitment to support each other is reflected in various clients. Quintoppers make every effort to carry out the assignment as well as possible, together with the customer, in order to exceed the expectations of the client. In addition to my assignment, Quintop is also very committed to my development through the High Potential program in which I participate. Especially the training courses that test my work, behavior and character really attract my attention. You have to dare to look at yourself in the mirror for a long time, open yourself up, but you will benefit from it all your life! This ensures that I can develop myself, so that I can continuously add value to the clients. 

What am I doing now?

In my first assignment I was part of a global HR team working as a data specialist who worked on the transition and coordination of data structures for all employees within a global player in the field of chemistry. In this team I was directly responsible for one of the three business lines and indirectly responsible for the global data structures. To ensure the quality of the data structure, I was in constant contact with business leaders from the United States, Brazil, Sweden and the Netherlands. 

 

For my second assignment, within the same company, I am part of the Global Annual Compensation Process as a compensation specialist. In this team I am responsible for analyzing the salary increases and bonuses of the entire organization. These analyses are input for (financial) managers such as the CFO & CEO. I am also responsible for the quality of the process and the data structure. That is why I have contact with people managers over more than 35 countries and I have control over the associated bonus calculations. In addition, I support the manager Global Rewards & Director Rewards. These are very challenging assignments for me and that is exactly what I love! 

More than a year ago the first High Potential started in your team. Why did you choose to work with a High Potential from Quintop?

I already knew some Quintoppers and also former Quintoppers and I immediately had a good connection with Erik Geerts (partner at Quintop). Erik told me that Quintop wanted to start with the High Potential Program and so we kept in touch. When the program started, I had a project that a High Potential could work on and that’s how the first High Potential, Jeroen, started in my team.

Meanwhile, three other High Potentials have started in your team. Why do you like working with High Potentials?

Quintop’s High Potentials learn quickly, are versatile, proactive and take initiative. They know how to say ‘no’ but are also flexible and will not shy away from a challenge. I feel that Quintop understands what I’m looking for. When I describe a person I am looking for, Erik can translate this very well to a very suitable candidate. When I look at how these people are deployed and what they do, it also fits very well with the exposure we have as a team. I think that is why I found this good balance with Quintop.

Quintop profiles the High Potentials as young, ambitious starters who can fulfill different roles and can be deployed in a low-threshold way. To what extent do you agree with this?

It is good that you get a certain quality mark as High Potential from Quintop and also the support that goes with it. The name High Potential creates high expectations and therefore gives you a certain stamp. Quintoppers are often on assignments that have a short duration, so work needs to be delivered and organized quickly. Of course it is not that you can work without any guidance, simply because you are young.

The High Potentials receive guidance from Quintop. To what extent is that noticeable for you?

I certainly think that is an advantage. It is very pleasant not always having to spend time and effort explaining things yourself; you know that the High Potential receives guidance from Quintop and that the person is being helped if necessary. Furthermore, it is also very good that Quintop facilitates trainings, as well as mentoring. I think that’s very important. I have also given feedback a number of times, it helps if you can talk honestly about how the high potential is functioning, this is very valuable.

What is an example of good cooperation with one of the High Potentials?

There are many good examples. Jeroen’s project was completed successfully and on time and the transfer to a permanent employee went well. Of course, with the necessary support and guidance, but he also picks up tasks independently and identifies task that should be picked up. The same applies to Teska; she has contributed a lot to our data quality and data definitions. Moreover, she helped launch the Knowingo app, an app to increase the knowledge of employees in a playful manner. She has rolled this out almost entirely independently. When the High Potentials get started with something, you do what is expected. I don’t have to worry about things not getting done. That is what certainly stands out!

Why did Quintop set up this program?

There are several reasons. First of all, we notice that companies have a strong need for ambitious starters who can perform various roles and has a fresh look at the organization. In addition, it appears that for starters the ‘gap’ between university and working life is often considered large. By means of a program, this so-called gap reduces quickly due to various challenging assignments and a lot of attention for personal and professional development. So, it’s actually a win-win situation for both the client as well as the starter. The client gets an ambitious starter who develops quickly on a personal and professional level and rapidly adds value. The starter combines working with learning and thus builds a bridge between university and working life.

How did you come up with this program?

In the development of the program, the set goal has continuously been pursued: We want a distinctive and excellent High Potential Program, in which there is an optimal connection between the requirements of the customer, the High Potential and (with this) Quintop. In order to meet these requirements, an analysis has been carried out with both customers, ambitious starters and consultants of Quintop. In addition, an external research has been carried out to gain insight in the success factors of such programs and how other companies created their program. We have integrated this information, and this has led to the program that is now running within Quintop.

What does the program entail?

We want to offer the High Potentials challenging assignments at the client, intensive development possibilities and professional and personal coaching.

As far as development is available, the Quintop High Potential Program has the following main clusters for training:

  • Personal development
  • Communication skills
  • Project & proces management
  • HR
  • Acquisition

The first year focuses on the basis and during the second year there is a deepening on the above clusters. There is also sufficient flexible space within the program, so that parts of the program can be custom-made to fit their own needs.

In addition, everyone at Quintop has a mentor. At Quintop we have mentors for development interviews, for coaching, and for questions and concerns.

What characterizes a true High Potential?

Before the start of the program we thought about what a High Potential should know, should be able to do and what attitude they should have before and after finishing the program. Regarding the profile of the High Potential, it became clear that a university level of education with relevant extracurricular activities was desired. There also needs to be a fit with Quintop: someone must have the so-called Quintop DNA. This represents passion, pragmatism, result orientation and authenticity.

What has it brought you to set this up?

Energy and enthusiasm! I myself am working now for two and a half years and so I also recently dealt with the switch from university to working life. Therefore, I really enjoyed working on this assignment! In addition, I get energy from researching something to be able to create, based on the obtained information. That there is a High Potential Program now at Quintop with enthusiastic participants, to me is just fantastic. And when my assignment at the client allows it, I like to join the trainings of the High Potential Program!

More about Marlis