Highberger Philippine den Brave: From HR to Transformation Consultant

Before Transformation Consultant Philippine den Brave joined Highberg, she gained extensive experience in the HR field at Danone and ING. Why did she decided to make this switch and how did Highberg supported her? Read about it in the interview down below.


What were you doing before joining Highberg and how did you end up working at Highberg?

Philippine: “Before I started at Highberg, I was mainly working in the HR field. I did a broad master’s degree in international management, but I was most focused on HR. Before fully committing to HR, I did a three-month internship at Danone as a HR Business Partner Intern. Together with two other HR Business Partners, I was responsible for 150 colleagues within Danone. We supervised the standard HR cycle, from goal setting to evaluation and execution. After my internship, I was hired for three months as a Junior HR Businss Partner to work on specific improvement projects for the department, which I really enjoyed and learned a lot from.

After her time at Danone, Philippine followed the HR Traineeship at ING to develop herself (even) more. At ING Philippine worked on, among other things, the HR target operating model, the Performance & Rewards Cycle and reorganizations within ING. She did this partly for the German branch of ING in Frankfurt.

Philippine: “This role was very diverse and interesting, because I was constantly working on new projects and collaborating with new people. I enjoyed helping people grow and working on the processes within an organization. However, at some point I noticed that the role of HR Business Partner and HR in general follows a fixed cycle and contains many standard tasks, and I found project-based work more attractive. My team advised me to look further for my own development. I realized that collaboration between people particularly appealed to me. I decided to look further and eventually ended up at Highberg. Here I work on organizational change, improving processes from a human perspective, and promoting communication within the organization. This really appealed to me and (still) fits my interests perfectly. Due to the flat organizational structure at Highberg, I can also go directly to the CEO and discuss my concerns or ideas. This gives me the feeling that I am really heard and that I can make a difference. This opportunity to have direct and open communication was a conscious choice for me to move to a smaller organization (Highberg).”

How were you able to transfer your skills and knowledge from your HR position to your role as a consultant at Highberg?

Philippine: “If you come in as a consultant and have already done many projects and/or worked with various teams in your previous job, it is mainly about the competencies that you have built up as a person. It's about how to start a project properly every time, how to connect directly with different people and how to analytically investigate a problem together. What I learned is how to break down any problem. How do you define a problem, structure interviews, arrive at a solution and implement the solution? At ING this process revolved (largely) around HR-related topics, which is also comparable to what I now do at Highberg, because organizational optimization largely falls under HR.”

What aspects of working in consultancy have most surprised or challenged you compared to your previous experience in HR?

Philippine: “In consultancy, the biggest and most enjoyable challenge is discovering the culture and processes of each new organization. What does the company do? What does it deliver? Who are the customers? Every time you dive into a new context. Another challenge is building a bond with the team and each client. At ING/Danone there was a common culture and the same standards of behavior everywhere. I knew the company and didn't have to keep retraining myself.” 

“What positively surprised me most is that there is no administrative work involved in the role of consultant. I really love that.” 

Can you tell us more about (the culture at) Highberg and how it has contributed to your development as a consultant?

Philippine: “What really stands out for me at Highberg is the entrepreneurial culture. I have always been entrepreneurial, although I didn't always call it that. For me, being entrepeneurial mainly meant setting up my own company. However, at Highberg I learned that being entrepreneurial also means proactively tackling things, both internally at Highberg and with the client. Our culture appreciates and encourages you to take initiative and sometimes literally roll up your sleeves. This has enormously increased my development, because I have the freedom to further develop my ideas. From day one I was given a lot of responsibility, which greatly strengthened my self-confidence. At Highberg I immediately felt that they believed in me, which motivated me to also believe in myself.” 

“Another aspect of the culture at Highberg is that hierarchy matters less. As long as you deliver good work, you will be taken seriously as a professional."

What new skills or knowledge have you developed since joining Highberg, and how have they contributed to your professional growth?

Philippine: “At Highberg I further developed my knowledge of Agile working, which helped me to implement an Agile transformation with clients. Furthermore, I learned how you can successfully implement innovations in a company, which is a valuable addition to my skillset. One area that I knew very little about is portfolio management. At Highberg I have learned a lot about it, which now helps me advise clients on how to better prioritize and manage projects and initiatives.

Philippine has also gained experience at Highberg about how to give workshops and trainings and how to further develop project management skills. With these skills she expanded her professional repertoire further. “All these new values ​​and knowledge have contributed significantly to my professional growth and have made me the versatile and effective professional I am today.” 

What makes Highberg a unique place to work for professionals looking for growth and development in their careers?

Philippine: “What makes Highberg unique for me is its tailor-made approach. In large organizations it is often not possible to respond to individual requests, because this is simply not feasible. But at Highberg it is possible.” 

“I also work with incredibly skilled people, which inspires me enormously. The diversity among colleagues is great, and you therefore learn something different from everyone. You always see different perspectives and working methods among the partners, seniors and consultants, which I find very interesting.” 

Philippine indicates that rotation on projects also contributes to a fast-learning curve. “At Highberg you get the opportunity to work on different projects, so you gain many new skills and knowledge in a short time.” 

In addition, Highberg regularly organizes events where knowledge is exchanged, which contributes to the personal and professional development of the consultants. Philippine: “Highberg offers a stimulating environment in which you can continuously grow and take your career to a higher level.” 

How has Highberg's support, including training, coaching and mentoring, helped you make the transition from an HR role to a consultant role?

Philippine: “Highberg's support played a crucial role in my transition from HR to consulting. One of the most important training courses I have followed are the "Consulting Skills" training and Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) training. But what has had a particularly big impact is learning on the work floor, or 'learning on the job'. The combination of these formal training courses and the practical experience I gained during projects helped me to quickly adapt to my new role and function effectively as a consultant.”

What do you think are the biggest opportunities for those considering switching to consultancy?

Philippine: “Consultancy offers a wide range of possibilities. You'll get the chance to see different sectors and companies, which will help you decide what suits you best. This broad experience enriches your view on organizational development. You can constantly reinvent yourself as a professional. Another great opportunity is the ability to learn from the smart people around you. At Highberg you work with diverse and inspiring colleagues, from whom you can adopt different approaches and skills and integrate them into your own style. This contributes to your professional development and helps you grow faster.”

Interested in making a switch just like Philippine did?

Apply on our vacancy for Transformation consultant here

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