Pim Stam on his transition from trainee to consultant

12 April 2019 Consultancy.eu

Based in the Netherlands, Enigma Consulting was founded in 1997 and has since grown to more than 60 consultants. Having studied biomedical research at the Vrije Universiteit and obtained a Master’s in Management & Policy, Pim Stam joined the consultancy three years ago as a trainee. Now a fully-fledged consultant, Stam sat with Consultancy.eu to discuss his time with the firm so far.

When he graduated from university, Pim Stam was faced with the daunting task of finding a career that was a good fit for his skills and ambitions. Having trawled through a number of options offered up by an employment agency, he finally came upon Enigma Consulting, an unassuming company based in Driebergen-Zeist, a town in the central Netherlands, located east of the city of Utrecht.

Reflecting on his first impression of the firm, Stam said, “I remember when I walked in. It looked like an old doctors’ house and of course everyone was suited up. However, during the first and second phase of my application I found that everyone was very open and really listened to me. Thanks to four rounds in all, I had the chance to really get to know Enigma Consulting’s corporate culture.”

Stam felt that the culture at Enigma was a close match of his hopes for a career. Having seen the way the firm valued knowledge, transparency and delivering quality, he immediately declined the other offers from companies he had applied to. Since joining, he has also felt a strong connection with the firm’s client base.Pim Stam on his transition from trainee to consultant“During the traineeship, we worked at ING,” Stam explained. “It was fun, because I have worked in four different departments of ING. The client always pushed for me to deliver more, they expected me to deliver something extra, otherwise they could hire one of their own consultants. That matches with the culture of Enigma: ‘Normal is not good enough, everything has to be more than normal.’”

Moving from life as a trainee to his experiences as a consultant, Stam quickly found his feet, despite the differences between working as a junior consultant and a ‘real’ consultant. He elaborated that while his role shifted, and with that the expectations the firm and clients had of him, he was swiftly accepted as an authority.

Stam explained: “Clients expected that I could be product owner and lead a team. I was afraid that some people would think: ‘I work over 20 years at this firm and now I have to listen to 25-year-old kid.’ Thankfully, my age did not matter. Maybe it was because of my role as product owner and because of Enigma’s corporate culture.”

In the year and a half he has spent as a consultant, Stam has largely been on assignment with Rabobank, focusing on projects in the payment and digital domains. This has seen him lead work on specialist cross border payments. In this engagement, he has worked on a new payment engine GPP, which requires him to maintain control and continuity for the product, presiding over an agile IT team to deliver value to the client.

Learning curve

One of the key aspects of his adjustment to life as a consultant is an ability to determine what clients expect. According to Stam, even with a lack of experience, there are several important components to getting this right.

He expanded; “First of all, I want to know my team upfront. Hence, I find out all the strengths and weaknesses and I try to be very transparent about it. When I know what I can expect from my colleagues I try to keep asking questions to the client until we have made the assignment very clear. If we don’t make the assignment clear, the client can be disappointed in the end. It’s then that we must provide a fresh look at problems, bringing in new ideas to see things differently, questioning why the team works the way they do.”

Thanks to the diverse workload of consultancy, as well as the fast-moving nature of business, Stam has rapidly grown into his more senior role. With each assignment, Stam has acquired new skills, and this has enabled him to continue bringing in new work.

He concluded, “With every proposal to get a new assignment I showcase my newly acquired skills. This allows me to tell the client that, although I might not have knowledge about the company, I do have the most recent skills they could benefit from.”

Working as a young professional at ACE Company

19 April 2019 Consultancy.eu

Janco Jordaan joined boutique consulting firm ACE Company seven months ago. The young professional reflects on the highlights of life with his new employer, as well as what he has learned since arriving at ACE.

ACE Company is a boutique consulting firm from the Netherlands that focuses on regulatory change in the financial services industry. The firm’s clients typically are financial institutions such as banks, insurance companies, asset managers and pension funds, as well as regulators and supervisors. Having enjoyed growing demand, the firm has been on a recruitment drive in recent months.

Having spent five years in the legal sector, Janco Jordaan decided that the time was right for a new challenge in consulting. He joined ACE as a Junior Consultant, driven by a desire to broaden his business knowledge. “ACE’s area of expertise – implementing regulatory change in the financial sector – promises for an exciting challenge, which I am definitely up for. I wanted to surround myself with experts; ACE was a perfect fit in this regard.”Working as a young professional at ACE CompanyDuring his first seven months, Jordaan, who holds a Master’s degree in International Business Law, has mainly been focused in the banking sector, working on analysis enabling a cross-domain understanding on the planning and maturity of regulatory topics throughout the bank. His work takes place at a time when regulatory change has grown into one of bank’s top strategic focus areas for the coming years. Amid a growingly complex landscape, and in a bid to curb reputational and operations risks, getting compliance right has elevated itself into a boardroom topic – the recent media attack on ING on the back of its AML blunder demonstrated just how important scrutiny can be.

Asked how he is able to keep his knowledge up to speed in order to operate at the forefront of change, he pointed to the full-fledged support from the team. “The seniority and diversity of ACE’s team means that there is a great deal to be learned from team members.” He added, “ACE embraces diversity. This means we have a team with all sort of different backgrounds e.g. different cultures and various career paths.”

Training on the job and a fixed curriculum for training ensures that knowledge and capacities are lined up with client demands. Jordaan: “We also have internal projects and knowledge sharing initiatives to ensure up to date knowledge. And every Friday, ACE organises a team meeting focused on knowledge transfer and team-building.”  

According to Jordaan, one of the best things about working at ACE however is the firm’s open culture. “To me the culture at ACE is best described by the words: balanced, sophisticated and real.”