Elles van den Berg

Elles van den Berg

Nationality: Dutch
Programme: Full-time MBA, 2014
Pre-MBA: Project Manager, New Venture, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Post-MBA: HR Director, CompaNanny Nederland B.V., Amsterdam, Netherlands
Current industry: HR
Transitions made: Function, Industry, Location

Why did you choose to do an MBA?

Working as a lawyer in Amsterdam for three and a half years, I found myself getting increasingly energised by HR topics within my firm rather than practising law itself.

I had a pretty good idea that I wanted to do something within HR strategy, as well as management, leadership, organisational behaviour and culture. An MBA seemed the best route into a new life.

I wanted to study a one-year MBA programme abroad and London is my favourite city. I had two options, after careful consideration I chose Cass Business School.  It offered the best combination of learning development programmes, HR-related electives and personal coaching. I also liked the atmosphere there during my interviews.

The programme was an equal balance of theory and practice. I found it really helpful to learn the theoretical side and then look at the practical applications using case studies. Four years on, the theory is still useful to me today.

The entire learning experience with my classmates was enhanced by the networking, the friendships and the way you discover what other people do, as the cohort takes a genuine interest in each other’s backgrounds.

What did you find most beneficial on the programme?

The personal development workshops that I attended were extremely beneficial. For example, I followed a workshop about interview styles and techniques and how to promote myself and feel confident. Also, I had a personal coach assigned to me, which was great. It led to a more in-depth conversation about me as a person and what I wanted to achieve, and that gave me a lot of confidence about my abilities and the direction I wanted to take.

In the last few months of the programme, I interviewed around twenty Cass alumni as part of my research for the Business Mastery Project. It was an amazing opportunity to network with HR experts and allowed me to demonstrate my understanding of the industry.  One of the alum I interviewed, subsequently offered me a HR role in a tech company located nearby to the Cass campus. I worked there for a year and gained invaluable experience before going back to the Netherlands. When I look back at it now, I realise it was the stepping stone to my new career path in HR.

Where has your MBA taken you?

I am now the HR Director at CompaNanny Nederland B.V. in Amsterdam, a company with 700 employees, where my role is focused on driving the HR strategy.

The programme made it possible for me to move immediately into an HR role enabling me to switch country, role and industry. I am delighted with the direction my career is taking.

Since graduating I have supported Cass in campaigns to encourage women to take the MBA programme, as I am 100% convinced that my experience at Cass benefited my career and my personal life as well.