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We – Erik van Weert, Hannah Nesmith-Beck and Susanne Skoruppa – spent a morning with some 25 members of the current cohort of Radboud University’s AMID programme – the Advanced Master’s in International Development, directed by Sara Kinsbergen, a specialist on aid architecture and member of the Dutch Government Committee on International Development. Participants in this applied programme work in Dutch government institutions and different International Development organisations based in the Netherlands and Kenya to obtain practical experience, complemented by technical and professional development training phases facilitated by the university. One trainee of the next cohort will join Oxford HR in 2022 for a year to work on our leadership development portfolio, with a focus on applied market research.

The three of us facilitated a workshop on professional development around next steps in the young professionals’ career journey, how to negotiate contracts and salaries, and how to have courageous conversations in the workplace. The conversations in the breakout groups reflected the lived reality of young professionals in the sector. How to deal with middle managers who are often stretched too thin, and may lack the necessary training, to provide regular and useful feedback to their teams and to individuals? How to grow your network when you are just starting out in your career, how to best present yourself externally and manage first job interviews? How do we assert ourselves as women, as women and men of color, as people who come from different cultural backgrounds, navigating the delicate waters of equity, diversity and inclusion? And, conversely, do white Westerners still have a place in International Development?

As the Netherlands had just entered the next phase of lockdown, questions and concerns also arose around work-life balance and mental health in the virtual office. How do we stay sane and productive while sitting in a confined home space and without the facilitating and inspiring effects of sharing physical office space with colleagues?

As we are moving further into offering integrated leadership development services to our client organisations, we felt inspired by hearing first-hand from these young professionals the kind of information we work with daily when engaging in leadership development assignments, be it leadership team and board development, executive coaching, organisational change consulting, and, of course, executive search. Often organisations request our help to understand how they can make sure that feedback from all its members, regardless of position, reaches those in leadership roles – to build better relationships and task processes, to ensure continuous evolution of the organisation. We left the session enriched with data and ideas, and we are looking forward to our collaboration with the AMID programme which may even tap into the university’s research activities into the aid and development sector.

Erik van Weert
Erik van Weert
Director, Europe at Oxford HR

Erik is based in the Netherlands and has over 25 years of experience in international development and joined Oxford HR in 2020. He has a strong track record in organizational development, resource mobilisation (> 100 M) and building successful teams and partnerships.

He has an extensive track record in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa with SNV Dutch Development Organisation and Enabel (Belgium Development Agency) in Sudan, Bolivia and Ecuador. He worked with ERAC impact consultancies, Rutgers and RNW Media in the Netherlands as a lead consultant and business development director.

Erik has an MBA focused on organisational strategy and innovation and a Master International Development Studies and Social Geography. He is passionate about organisational transformations, the fourth industrial revolution and supporting organisations to grow their impact.