Kirsten Winkel is 24 years old, lives in The Hague, is Medior Consultant Executive Search at Venturn and is in the final phase of the Venturn Young Professionals (VYP) program. Soccer dominates her daily life, and she has a season ticket for Feyenoord. Every other week she can be found in stadium De Kuip together with her brother and grandfather. She also plays soccer herself three times a week. She has a background in psychology, with a master’s degree in Work and Organizational psychology.
In addition to her full-time job at Venturn, Kirsten volunteers five hours a week at Slachtofferhulp Nederland (Victim Support Netherlands). Here she is in the active approach department: calling people when they have been in contact with the police or have made a report or a notification. “My volunteer work at Slachtofferhulp is a more in-depth focus on my bachelor’s in Psychology, while my work focuses more on my master’s. In both you really need to listen to someone. At Slachtofferhulp, you’re somewhat of an ‘emotional ambulance’ for people after they go through a traumatic or abnormal event. You can tell it means a lot to people that you’re there for them; they are willing to tell you what is going on in their lives. You have a real impact and I value that.”
From student to professional
Kirsten has been with Venturn for almost three years and will formally complete the Venturn Young Professional program in August. In 2019, Kirsten started at Venturn as a work-study student. “At the time, the working student at Venturn sent me a message via LinkedIn. They were looking for a working student and saw a match.” Her work back then consisted mainly of supporting the search department. After completing her studies, she started as a Junior Executive Search Consultant.
“I started with no cure no pay assignments. Even then, I was already doing a lot of work focused on the Young Professionals. As I’ve been here longer and have also been in the program longer, I became the point of contact for different clients, focusing more on exclusive assignments. Nowadays I’m the first point of contact for the VYPs in the organization as well.” Her work can be split up into three parts: VYPs, assessments and development, and Executive Search. The different activities are what makes the work so enjoyable for her. “Coming from my studies, recruitment was a good starting point to learn the ropes. Now, I can go a bit more in-depth with assessments and interviews and conversations with the VYPs. At Venturn, I can always move forward with my ambitions.”
Life as a VYP
During her two years in the program, Kirsten followed the training curriculum along with the rest of the group. The difference with most other VYPs is that she works for Venturn only, instead of doing interim assignments with different clients. Her thoughts on the program? “Very nice. I think the group is very sociable. Besides the program, we do fun things together. But also the training sessions themselves. In two years you see such a huge difference in what you are capable of, what you know and maybe even in what you dare to do.” She herself has grown the most in assertiveness. “While I was more quiet in the beginning, I’ve become more daring and better at getting information. And sometimes something goes wrong, or you don’t do something entirely right, but I learn more from that. Instead of being a bit more risk averse, I’m a bit more daring now.”
One of Kirsten’s strengths is that she is not just a good listener, but a good critical listener as well. She offers a listening ear, but is not afraid to ask questions to bring out the best in people. “I think that I, together with the others, contribute to a nice atmosphere. And that people feel that they can come to me.”
“Sometimes something goes wrong, or you don’t do something entirely right, but I learn more from that.”
Based on her studies, Kirsten’s specialism lies with assessments. “What I enjoy about assessments is getting to talk to all kinds of people. It’s a bit like Slachtofferhulp, to see how you can best start the conversation based on the needs of another person. I enjoy doing that and it also makes it fun to be the point of contact for the VYPs. Everyone is at a different stage of their career, and everyone is different as a person too.”
What else would Kirsten like to learn? “I would like to get even more into training and maybe even more coaching. Giving training courses would be something I would enjoy. For Slachtofferhulp I had to go to an academy for three days. During the third training there was a trainer in front of the group who explained how best to communicate and give feedback. I thought to myself: that’s the kind of trainer I want to be. I want to teach people things like that too. The content of my training? No specific idea yet. Maybe something about communication, managing a team, team relationships… that’s where my interest lies.”