Quintop plans to expand as it celebrates 25 years of business

13 September 2022 Consultancy.eu 6 min. read

As Dutch HR consultancy Quintop celebrates its 25th year in business, partners Erik Geerts and Ilse Heurkens sat down with Consultancy.eu to discuss the firm’s growth journey – and what makes Quintop unique in the rapidly evolving human capital consulting landscape.

Headquartered in Utrecht, Quintop has accrued quite a list of blue-chip clients over the years. A small selection includes oil-giant Shell, dairy firm Campina, paints and performance coatings group AkzoNobel, banks ING and ABN Amro, and world-renowned beer brand Heineken, along with Amnesty International, and technology brand Siemens.

Those clients, and the many others not listed, count on Quintop for its specialism: all areas of HR transformation.

Erik Geerts en Ilse Heurkens - Quintop

However, Quintop’s services portfolio was initially far more diverse. “When we were founded in 1997 our positioning was reasonably opportunistic,” admitted founder Erik Geerts, as the firm was eager to pick up any kind of work that was consulting-minded.

The finessing of Quintop’s offering came about soon after, though. “We entered the HR environment for a major client,” Geerts recalls. “From there we rolled from one HR project to another. After about five years it became clear: if around 95% of our business is HR-related, maybe we should dedicate our focus to this specialisation.”

The re-focusing of the business happened pretty rapidly from then. Today, Quintop’s portfolio focuses on everything from operating model (re)design and reorganisations to process improvement, regulations, and systems implementation.

“Actually anything that falls under the scope of HR transformation,” adds Ilse Heurkens – an 11-year veteran with Quintop, who became a partner in 2020.

Internally, the firm has grouped its capabilities around three topics: Digital HR Transformation (implementing HR systems such as Workday or SuccesFactors), HR Operating Model (designing the future HR organisation) and Business Transformation (supporting large-scale transformations from a people perspective).

“In everything that we do, we are focused on helping our client become successful. We are known among clients for our pragmatic and practical approach to consulting: we get things done – that’s one of the key reasons why clients bring us on board,” says Geerts.

Adapting for success

The fact that Quintop can now call itself an established player in the HR consulting domain does not mean that the firm is no longer looking around for new opportunities. One of the ambitions is to internationalise its portfolio, welcoming “new and exciting clients” to its mix, while also offerings its employees with “interesting international” experiences.

To this regard, the Covid-19 pandemic is paving the way for such opportunities. Geerts: “Due to corona, it is no longer a problem for customers to work remotely, which makes it easier for a player like us to win engagements in, for example, Belgium, England and Switzerland.”

That is good news for Quintop’s consultants. Having won “multiple” international mandates, they find themselves able to travel to foreign clients to gain vital experience. “The experience enriches their learning experience,” says Geerts.

Heurkens has benefitted from that first-hand. Citing work on several projects for large multinationals, she states, “You learn a lot from working within a large project team with different nationalities and disciplines. This makes it extra challenging and teaches you to be flexible – which is one of the most important qualities of a good consultant.”

“You have to have a certain passion to adapt to the organisation you are currently in: only in this way can you make a project a success.”

Talent development

Client work is not the only way Quintop looks to boost the professional and personal development of its people, either. The consultancy hosts a variety of knowledge sharing initiatives for staff.

Heurkens continues, “We regularly organise knowledge sharing sessions, but also connect in all kinds of less formal ways. When someone on a project is confronted with something new, a colleague who has experience with the topic is always ready to help.”

For this reason, both Geerts and Heurkens describe the more than 30-strong Quintop team as a “family”. And like a family, there is room for fun in the good times – for example, the team recently returned from a long weekend in Croatia to celebrate the firm’s 25th anniversary, which Geerts admits was “of course one big party” – but also for support when times get tough.

Emphasising this, Heurkens adds, “Suppose that you have a problem or are facing challenges on a project. Colleagues are always around to come to the rescue. That also makes people feel very much at home here. When I started more than eleven years ago, it immediately felt good, but I could not have imagined at the time that I would still be there so many years later, and also as a partner. That is really because I feel so completely at home here.”

In a boost to its junior ranks, Quintop launched its own High Potential Programme for young professionals six years ago. Geerts believes this programme gives the company a big boost, “they bring a fresh perspective on the world and keep us sharp, day in day out.”

“It's wonderful to see how young talent develop. After two years of training and practice, it’s like they are someone else entirely: richer in experiences and more mature. That makes me proud every time. Sometimes we even do it a little too well, because our customers try hard to hang on to them.”

Even after the programme has been completed, personal and professional development remains central at Quintop. Graduates then become part of the Personal Leadership Programme, along with all the firm’s consultants. “This empower every individual to grow in a personalised manner.”

Plans to keep growing

Looking ahead, Quintop has an action-packed agenda for the coming years. Firstly, Quintop wants to continue its internationalisation path, with Europe the key area of focus.

With customers already located in countries such as Germany, Belgium and Switzerland, “that leaves us wanting more.” But doing so will need a new strategy to help acquaint potential clients with the firm’s offering. As a result, Quintop is now also consciously working on further increasing its brand awareness. 

Geerts says, “We never really had that on the agenda, because customers already knew where and how to find us. But if you want to grow – especially internationally – it is good to show more emphatically what you do best, so that people know why you should turn to Quintop.”

Growing the firm’s base of clients will also require a larger team, to meet demand. Bringing fresh talent on board is therefore key to Quintop’s expansion – either in the firm’s Netherlands office, or further afield.

“We will recruit – though carefully,” Geerts emphasises. “Our core team now consists of more than 30 people. That could grow to something like 50. But we don't have the ambition to go straight to 100.”

“The family can grow a bit bigger, but not too big,” adds Heurkens, harking back to the firm’s family-culture. “If you can't remember the names of all your nieces and nephews, it becomes a problem!”