Alumna in the hot seat: Nikki de Vet

Do you sometimes wonder what happened to your colleague alumni? Which path they chose to follow, or still follow? Or literally, where on earth they are working? After your study, you swarmed off in all directions and that is why you sometimes lose sight of your fellow alumni. Fortunately, often after years, one way or another they show up again. You might even find them back in this column!

In this edition: Nikki de Vet

‘I still apply the skills I’ve learned here’

Nikki de Vet (NHTV IHM 2005-2009) 
Partner at Within People

“Varied, sociable, practical and every block was different, my programme in Hospitality Management had a certain light-hearted touch to it. The people made it fun, other students and lecturers. We made some good trips and we were given the opportunity to go abroad. And I very much enjoyed my time in Breda, a small city with the convivial atmosphere so typical of Brabant.”

Nikki de Vet (32) studied at Breda University of Applied Sciences (formerly known as NHTV) from 2005 to 2009. She chose this degree programme because of the diversity offered and because ‘real life examples’ were worked on. Moreover, her job in a grand café was in line with the hospitality sector. She enjoyed it very much and thought this would be a great starting point. Even though she has left the hospitality industry, she believes Hospitality is the most dynamic industry there is. She had varies jobs and work placements in this sector before and during her studies.

Greatest impression 

“I was most impressed by the Strategy in Communications subject, in our third year. It taught how to think strategically, create a corporate strategy and how this then should be communicated. I discovered that I liked this way of thinking and that I was good at it. What I also liked was working within a competency system. I believe it’s valuable as you learn how to apply certain life skills, like asking and giving for feedback, and how to respond to this. This is something that benefits you for the rest of your life. Although I no longer work in the hospitality sector, I still apply the skills I’ve learned during my time at BUas. The reason for this? The programme teaches you to be extremely flexible, to listen with an open mind, collaborate in teams, that anything is possible and how to solve issues quickly.”

Cool city 

“After my studies at BUas, I attended a master’s programme in International Business in Barcelona. I wanted to know how companies outside the hospitality industry operated. Upon completion of my studies, I wanted to continue living in a big city because I like the anonymity of it. I started to work in financial services in London; a cool city that is individual and multicultural and offers many job opportunities. After a year in London, I moved to Sydney for a year and a half. There I realised that the commercial aspects of the jobs I had so far did not suit me. I completed a coaching programme and coached people ‘as a side gig’. When I returned to England, I started working at British Land and the HR Director, my previous boss, gave me an opportunity to develop myself in changing corporate culture, which enabled me to effectively create my own role and feel very much at home in the career I was now pursuing.”

Turning points 

“Sydney was a turning point for me. Another turning point occurred last winter. I went on a sabbatical to Costa Rica, Colombia and Mexico for three and a half months. I exchanged the high-performance atmosphere of the big city for a lifestyle with far more freedom. I realised that I was doing work that was to my liking, but the way of working, the structure and the continuous ‘strive for more’ no longer contributed to the lifestyle I wanted to create. During this trip, away from the noise of the big smoke, I could hear myself think again. I knew something had to change. My desire for freedom was too strong to suppress any longer, and so I made the decision to say farewell to a great employer and my comfortable situation of having a well-paid, permanent job, including pension, bonus, and many other perks.”

Corporate culture

“Only recently, I started to work for myself. I joined a partnership that helps 21st century business grow. As a consultant/coach, I work on shaping and changing company cultures. How do you make sure it fits in with its strategy and vision? How do you crystallise something abstract like ‘strategy’ for employees? My ambition is to expand my work in the coming years and enjoy the freedom of being an independent entrepreneur.”

International character 

“There’s a big chance that I’ll continue to live internationally. What was very enjoyable at BUas was its international character. Using the English language and keeping day-to-day contact with international classmates helps you to develop yourself. It teaches you to look at things differently. International students bring in diversity, different perspectives and they were brought up differently. It teaches you great lessons. Moreover, your outlook broadens as a result of international companies being discussed in lectures.”

Nikki is Partner at Within People. She believes a 21st century business is one where people and vision are connected. Where compassion, creativity and inclusion are the key ingredients in attracting and engaging the best talent. She has seen first-hand what is possible when culture becomes an integral part of the strategy and when people are encouraged to be themselves in the workplace. https://www.withinpeople.com/