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Off the Charts interview: former board member Niels van Iwaarden

Hidde Kienstra
Hidde Kienstra is a student in the master Economics, with a specialization in the field of behavioral economics. Since he started being active he has joined several committees at Asset | Economics, of which a year in the board was his absolute highlight. Hidde has a broad interest in economics and the application of economics into sports.

Niels van Iwaarden is the former External Affairs Officer of the Asset | Economics board 2013 – 2014, who is now kick-starting his career in Ireland as an Inside Territory Executive for VMware.  In a fascinating interview he speaks with Off the Charts about his life as a student. And thereafter.

As probably not all of the readers know you, Niels, could you please tell us a little about yourself? What did you study for example and what did you do besides that?

Of course, my name is Niels van Iwaarden, 24 years old, and currently living and working in Cork, Ireland. I started in 2009 with my Bachelor International Business and Management Studies at the Hogeschool Zeeland in Vlissingen. In 2012 I moved to Tilburg to start my Master in International Management, of which I graduated in 2015.

Besides studying I have always been very active. I studied in Canada for 6 months, I did several internships, and when living in Tilburg, I became familiar with Asset. I was a participant in the TIE (The International Experience) in 2013 to Vietnam, I held positions in several committees and I was of course the External Affairs Officer of the Asset | Economics board in 2013-2014. I also worked at Polly Maggoo and Auberge du Bonheur, and I played korfball at S.K.V. Melmac.

So you were not following a bachelor or master in the field of Economics. How did you than end up in the board of Asset | Economics?

A former board member of Asset | Economics, Hein Huiting, was my ‘TOP-papa’. At first, I didn’t do much with Asset, but as the year proceeded I started to think more and more to develop myself in another way, be it with an internship, a study abroad or a board year. When I saw that Boy posted a message stating that Asset | Economics was looking for board members, I decided to contact Hein.

After a few interviews I received the good news and my new adventure could start!

Would you recommend doing a board year to other students? Or else said, have you ever regretted it at one time during the year?

I can highly recommend a board year to other students! It is the perfect way to take a ‘break’ from your study, develop a network, get to know more people and to gain insight in your own strengths and weaknesses.

The atmosphere in the halls is fantastic and you gain a lot of experience that you can’t gain from the books. Besides that, your fellow boardies really turn into friends, which is a great benefit.

The only things you regret are the hangovers after the many parties, but it is totally worth it!

“In the end the main advice is to start early, be honest and critical”

Let’s go back to the summer of 2015, when you graduated. As you did a master in International Management, it probably wasn’t a coincidence that you ended up in Ireland. But did you have any problems with finding a job?

I had no problems whatsoever with finding a job. Of course I have had some rejections, but before I graduated I already found a job at VMware in Ireland as part of the graduate program.

The most interesting thing is that foreign companies actually have no idea what a board year is, so in my interviews I constantly had to explain what I did. The focus was much more on soft skills and personal traits.

In the end the main advice is to start early, be honest and critical. Don’t take a job because just because you then have a job, pick something you really enjoy.

What kind of company is it that you are currently working for? What responsibilities do you have in your function?

I currently work in VMware as an Inside Territory Executive. VMware is one of the leaders in virtualization software, and we virtualize everything in the Data Center. My role is inside sales for commercial customers in the northern part of the Netherlands, and I am fully responsible for all deals between $20.000 up to $100.000. Furthermore, I work closely with my field colleague, who runs the deals over $100.000 and our partners. Daily business is spending a day on the phone and constantly being busy.

“The Irish culture is not that different from the Dutch culture”

In what way does the difference in culture between Dutch and Irish people translate to the working culture?

I actually work in a very international environment and work closely with my other Dutch colleagues. On the sales floor we have about 40 people from all over Europe, which makes it very interesting. The Irish culture is not that different from the Dutch culture, the Irish are very friendly and can be very direct. I feel that the Dutch and the Irish are a good match.

The working culture is very open towards each other since most individuals left their respective home countries to work here, so they are very open minded.

Before we finish this interview, one final question: What are your career goals and plans for the coming five years?

My goals are actually very simple, I want to continue to develop myself in this field and eventually move on towards a role in the Netherlands, and currently I am in the traineeship/role towards this path. VMware offers many possibilities, so this makes it very interesting for me.

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