The channels online committee had the opportunity to interview Rolf van Kessel. Rolf van Kessel is currently working at Kaizen Institute, in Den Bosch. 

Rolf started his study-career by following VWO, in the direction of nature and technology. After he completed this, Rolf started with the bachelor business economics at the university of Tilburg. When he completed this study, Rolf started with the master Supply Chain Management. After completing, Rolf thought about following a second master, but after deliberation he decided to start working. 

When Rolf was asked about his time as a student, he said that he experienced this time as very pleasant. Rolf visited open days of several universities, but he chose Tilburg university because of the atmosphere. The students at the open days were also kind and informative when they gave information about the study. Rolf did not live in Tilburg, but this had no effect on how he experienced his study. 

Fun Fact: “Rolf was also a member of S&L and visited several activities which helped him meet companies. Rolf also represented Kaizen Institute at an S&L activity”

Kaizen Institute is a consultancy agency in the field of continuous improvement. The goal of Kaizen Institute is to optimize the processes of customers. This is done, for example, based on the Lean and Six Sigma philosophy. Kaizen Institute mainly focusses on serving multinational clients. Kaizen Institute distinguishes itself from the competition by the worldwide network that the company has, their practical and holistic approach and its authenticity. The company is represented in more than 60 countries. If a company is located in a certain country, local Kaizen employees also guide that company. No consultants are flown over for this. In addition, a lot of contact is maintained between the various Kaizen Institute Business Units around the world (for example, if Kaizen Institute supervises the same customer in different countries).

Their practical approach can be seen by the fact that clients are always being involved in all projects. It is especially important for Kaizen Institute to realize a sustainable implementation of the written plan. This is done by linking an/multiple internal customer employee(s) to the Kaizen consultants.

Rolf is a business consultant. This means that he is collaborating with colleagues at customers to provide consultancy services regarding continuous improvement. These are both production and service offering companies, where Kaizen Institute mainly focusses on several sectors like Food & Retail, Oil & Gas and High Tech. This often happens on location, but a hybrid way of working also occurs. This is often project dependent. It is important for Kaizen Institute to work at the Gemba (shopfloor). Examples of projects are optimization projects regarding productivity, digitization and giving advice to the management of companies. For each project, the Kaizen Business System is being used which consists of knowledge packs. 

Rolf came to Kaizen through a guest lecture at the university. Rolf was not sure what he wanted to do after his study, since there are many directions. Since Rolf was not yet sure which direction he wanted to take, consultancy was an ideal job to gain experience in multiple sectors.

Rolf was also asked to give his opinion on three statements:

“I use information/skills that I have acquired during my studies on a daily basis” 

Yes, but with reservation. Rolf still uses the way of analytical thinking that he learned during his study, collaboration with colleagues and other nonspecific material a lot. Many different studies are suitable for the work done at Kaizen Institute, given the diverse types of assignments and colleagues that are currently working within Kaizen Institute.

“Work experience is essential; I would recommend doing an internship or following a traineeship to current students”

Not essential, but Rolf indicates that it is especially important that you do something next to your studies. This can be, for example, a part-time job or starting your own company. Rolf has had both experiences.

“My goal is to become black-belt certified”

One day Rolf wants to get his black belt, but this is not his priority at the moment. However, he received his Green Belt certificate a few years ago and followed the theoretical training course of the Black Belt. Kaizen Institute offers the opportunity to develop yourself and obtain certificates. What this process looks like differs for all employees. This process is adapted to specific employee situations.

When we asked Rolf about his expectations of the job and the reality, he started smiling. “If it was not what I expected I would not still be here after almost 4 years.” As earlier explained, Rolf already knew Kaizen Institute from his graduation assignment. Therefore, he knew what he could expect and what the culture at Kaizen Institute is. Working at Kaizen Institute gave Rolf  the possibility to get an insight into so many different companies, something that he really appreciates. 

When looking back at his student life, Rolf would not have done something different. He is convinced that he made the best decision at that time. However, with the current knowledge he has, he would have focused less on getting the best academic education. In his working life he experienced that most of the skills are learned at the job and that soft skills are also really important next to the knowledge that you gain during your studies. 

As a closing question we have asked Rolf what he would advise current students. The answer was clear; attend events and meet the companies. It is of great importance to get to know the companies and see what suits you the best. Rolf and his colleagues are also welcoming all the students to get to know Kaizen Institute better at their event on 19th of August. You can register via the following link:

Written by Karin Dirks and Daan Schippers

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