Jeffrey Roelands – Entrepreneur since the 1st of March 2021

So let’s start with your study career, can you tell us a little bit about the study time?

The study career in Tilburg started with the pre-master Strategic Management in 2016. Afterwards, the master Strategic Management logically followed. I joined the Extended Master program, which entailed an extra internship and several soft- and hard skills trainings besides the regular Strategic Management master. 

During the student time, I was active at Asset S&L in two different committees. At the beginning I joined the Career Committee and in my Master’s time I was the chairman of the committee that organised the Consultancy Days.

To what extent did the Master Strategic Management prepare you for the working life?
I think that especially “the helicopter view” is an aspect that comes back in your working life regardless of the direction or working field that you choose for. Of course, the knowledge and skills that you gather during the Masters are applicable to your career, but with these skills, you are not fully aware of all aspects that college taught you.

Strategic thinking on a long term basis (e.g. expertise of M&A, acquisitions or new market entries)  is a skill you learn at the Master that is definitely of added value as a professional. 

What would be your piece of advice for current students who are joining the job market within a few years? (especially Strategic Management students)  
I chose the Consultancy track of Strategic Management, in which a large majority of the alumni decide to start a job as a consultant or business analyst. I would advise these people to choose a sector that you really like to work in, in my case that resulted in a starters function as business analyst at a company in the real estate branche. Besides that, do not forget that you can also do other jobs than consulting as an alumnus. Be aware of the fact that I did not consider being an entrepreneur when I graduated.

How did the change from business analyst and consultant to entrepreneur come along your path?

The first two years of my working career were spent as a business analyst at Van Deursen group, who is owner of the retail chain Shoeby and has a real estate company. I worked at the real estate company. I really enjoyed working in that sector and after these years I was thinking about switching to a consulting job to get a new experience. Being a SAP consultant was quite challenging since the function was quite technical, but the projects were really exciting. 

During the year that I was a consultant, I met a youth friend of mine that was a physiotherapist and decided to work in e-commerce as a dropshipper. He told me about his entrepreneurial adventure and that inspired me to consider an entrepreneurial career as well. I contacted a friend that also finished Strategic Management, with whom I started the company, which consists of dropshipping, private labelling and own product development and manufacturing in the Netherlands. In October 2020, the business grew rapidly in size and the team grew at the same pace. For that reason, I decided to resign from the job of SAP consultant before the end of my first year. In March 2021, I was officially a full-time entrepreneur.

Could you tell us more about the business you are operating in?

We are selling our products in 5 different countries in Europe at the moment and are planning to enter new markets. The selling channels are mainly our own websites. We do have an office in Amstenrade, Limburg but the main communication between teams in the company is online. The reason for that is the fact that we decided to recruit employees from all over the world to ensure that the business is operating 24/7. The team consists of more than 20 people who live in different countries and different time zones. Another positive factor is that the wages we pay are relatively low for such high-qualified people, but for them relatively high in comparison with the costs for living standards in these countries. So, both parties are really happy about this collaboration. 

Is there anything about the working environment that you experienced differently than you imagined it beforehand when you were still a student?

There is always a phase as a student that you expect that anything you will do in the future will be better than the present. For me specifically, these were the times that you had time pressure for deadlines. However, when you are studying, the only stakeholder that cares about your output is yourself. If you would fail courses or a thesis, the only person that feels the consequences is you.

As a professional, especially when you want to climb up the corporate ladder, the necessity of strong output is more important. There is always a stakeholder (a company or manager) that relies on the work that you deliver. But what is good for another is not always good for yourself. Keep in mind your own desire, happiness, and goal. Companies highly value the strategic expertise that you have, so do not underestimate what you have learned in college. If it is not in your starting function, then the knowledge can still be applicable in a later stage of your career (after 5 to 10 years). And also don’t forget that you can apply your knowledge and expertise in other sectors even in your own business. Possibilities are endless.

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