From Econometrics to CEO for One Month - The Estimator invited Myrthe van den Reek, an Econometrics master student who became CEO for One Month of one of the world's largest HR companies and a Fortune 500 company, the Adecco Group. In this article, she narrates her experience spearheading the company.
What does the life of a Fortune 500 CEO look like? That is exactly what I got to experience last summer as CEO for One Month of the Adecco Group when I shadowed the CEO for the Netherlands for the entire month of August. I recently graduated from the master in Quantative Logistics and Operations Research, and I am a former active member at FAECTOR. So when the Estimator contacted me to write about my experience, I did not hesitate! The reason is that my background in Econometrics and various extracurricular activities were incredibly valuable in my journey of becoming CEO for One Month. Furthermore, this experience has taught me a lot about how I want to apply Econometrics in my future career working for a multinational company: an insight I would love to share with you!
What is CEO for One Month?
Before I explain how my background in Econometrics helped me a lot, let me explain what CEO for One Month is. It is an annual competition held by the Adecco Group for students and young professionals with more than 200.000 applicants per year worldwide. The winner of each country shadows the respective country CEO for, make a guess, one month.
This meant I got to attend every single activity my CEO attended, and I had the outstanding chance to spar with him about leadership, aspirations and personal development. Furthermore, I was granted the rare opportunity to see how Fortune 500 companies are run and met many incredible people, who I can now call my new colleagues.
Meanwhile, the competition continued while all country CEOs for One Month completed challenges aiming for the title of global CEO for One Month. The winner gets another month of shadowing, this time the global group CEO Alain Dehaze in Zurich.
I honestly believe it is an incredible program, so obviously I would recommend applying for the 2021 edition ;) If you would like to learn more, you can best follow the program on Instagram (International or Dutch) or you can always send me a message via Instagram or LinkedIn.
How Econometrics helped me
To get back to the main question, Econometrics played a big part this summer. Firstly, the value of studying Econometrics, to me, is not that I can cite the formula for the regression beta in the middle of the night (I cannot). To me the value lies in the problem-solving skills we obtain along the way. As an Econometrics student you learn to solve highly complicated problems, you have more data available than you can use, you have various constraints to take into account while having to find an optimal solution. Funnily, there is a big parallel with the problems in multinationals. Accordingly, your skills will prove very valuable there too.
Let me give you a practical example. Imagine you need to write a code that calculates the optimal moment to conduct maintenance on your wind turbine (my thesis topic). Will you just start coding? Probably not, because coding before you thoroughly understand the problem will most likely result in MANY problems along the way. Instead, we spend the majority of our theses/seminar/assignments determining what the problem is and what methodology is suited best to solve it. Or when you find a bug in your program… Rather than a quick fix solving the symptom, you search for the cause of the problem. Furthermore, while for us it is logical to solve problems iteratively, to think in for loops, while loops, and if statements, for others it not always is. In short, we are trained to be masters of systematic problem-solving.
Why did I apply?
The short answer? Because it seemed too good to be true! The first time I found out about the program was spring 2019 via a Facebook ad. That year, the timing was not ideal for me as I was starting my master in September, so I let it pass. Then in 2020 I saw the ads again and thought: why not give it a shot? It seemed like an incredible opportunity to learn something new and I felt ready to take on a new challenge. It simply felt good.
And that is actually the determinant I have based my actions on for the past couple of years: whether something feels good. It was the same when applying for the Marketing Committee of FAECTOR. I had never worked in Photoshop and InDesign and it seemed fun to learn about it. Or when I made the decision to pause my studies to do a board year at the Netherlands Asia Honours Summer School. All my extracurricular activities proved to be very valuable experiences which shaped me and provided me with skills I still use today. Most importantly, I learned a lot about myself.
Our beloved almanac - Marketing Committee 2018
During CEO for One Month, I was able to formulate for myself how I want to use Econometrics in my future career. As a former BSc2 student, I have always loved to combine the social and business aspects of Economics with the analytical aspects of Econometrics.
Accordingly, I aimed for a job which allowed me to use our problem-solving skills to work on big strategic challenges. Fortunately, I found a job which does exactly that. My new employer is, as I secretly already gave away above, the Adecco Group. More specifically, I’ll work for the brand called Modis, which is specialized in technology consulting and solutions. There, I’ll take on a role developing the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) service and technology, and setting up an international consulting solution service. This role perfectly combines programming and modeling with strategy. How did I make this decision? Again, it simply felt right!
The Estimator asked me if I had any advice for other students. A difficult question, because by all means, I am not an expert on life and mostly I feel grateful I got selected as CEO for One Month. What should I tell fellow students? I can only give you the advice I try to live by myself. Namely, to enjoy the process rather than striving only for the end result. And secondly, don’t worry too much about what looks good, do what feels good. It brings you to awesome places.
Do you have any questions? Do not hesitate to contact me! You can always send me a message via LinkedIn or Instagram.