An interview with Laura Zandvliet | Sincerius
Interview Sincerius - Laura Zandvliet
After a five-minute walk from the UvA, I arrived at SINCERIUS. SINCERIUS delivers next level transaction services and supports clients through every phase of the investment cycle with financial due diligence, business intelligence solutions, and performance improvement. I had the opportunity to talk with Laura about her experiences as a BI consultant at SINCERIUS.
Can you tell me something about yourself and your education?
My name is Laura Zandvliet, I am 24 years old and an alumnus of the VSAE. I started my bachelor’s degree in Econometrics at the UvA in 2016 from which I graduated in 2020. Afterwards, I pursued a master’s degree in Financial Econometrics at the UvA as well. Overall, Econometrics was not the easiest study stream, yet my interest in this field resulted in a successful completion of my studies. During my Master’s, I attended the VSAE Master Speed date event with the aim of finding an interesting thesis internship. Here I met SINCERIUS which felt like a good match. After my internship ended in 2021, I still felt this way which made me continue my career at SINCERIUS as a BI consultant. Besides my job, I currently spend a lot of time renovating my recently bought home. Moreover, I enjoy ice skating and socializing with friends.
Can you tell us more about SINCERIUS and your role within the company?
SINCERIUS is active in the M&A (mergers and acquisitions) industry, where we support Dutch and foreign private equity firms, DGAs, strategic buyers and bankers with due diligence. More specifically, we provide our clients quick insight into the underlying profitability, financial risks, and opportunities they should consider in their valuation and negotiations. I work as a consultant in the Business Intelligence department, this is a fast-growing team within the company. The department has been set up with the aim to offer our clients real-time performance insights. Usually, our financial analyses end when the financial due diligence process is completed. Yet, we noticed that our clients would like to receive these insights on a daily basis. Therefore, we developed SINCERIUS Business Insight: a platform including real-time dashboards, customized company performance reports, analyses and financial and operational KPIs. The type of information we include truly depends on the client’s needs.
Overall, we offer financial insights. As a BI consultant we have both our own projects and projects where we actively work together with the financial due diligence team. I have around 35 colleagues, of which nine work for Business Intelligence. Our BI team exists of both BI consultants and software engineers. Not everyone has studied Econometrics, the opposite actually applies at SINCERIUS, as employees have very different academic backgrounds (Business Analytics, Physics etc.). Nonetheless, we have a pretty close team where everyone knows each other well. We enjoy many activities together ranging from our yearly winter sports holiday and strategy summer weekend to sports activities and trips on our boat.
This ensures that you also get to know your colleagues beyond the office.
How did you experience your internship?
When joining SINCERIUS, I combined writing my Master’s thesis with working for SINCERIUS as a BI consultant. I was gradually trained and involved in various projects to gain insight into the tasks of a BI consultant. The first weeks were more demanding because everything was new; new colleagues, new tasks, lots of information to process and getting used to working full time. Therefore, I really liked the personal guidance in the first weeks. I was guided by a buddy who helped me with all new tasks. Besides working, I still had enough time to spend on my thesis. Also, it was very helpful that my colleagues were always ready to help me with any thesis related matters.
Overall, I really enjoyed my internship. I had sufficient time to get familiar with the company culture, the tasks involved in my role and my coworkers. The same holds the other way around, as the company also got to know me better. After my internship, both parties knew it was a good fit.
You mentioned that you met SINCERIUS at the Master speed date event, did you also look at other companies?
During my Bachelor, I was satisfied with the job I had at the time and did not look a lot for other jobs. I pursued my Master’s during COVID-19 times, which made it difficult to get to know other students. At that moment I decided to look for internship opportunities, to discover what jobs for econometrics students look like in practice and to meet new people. I met with multiple companies at the event, including SINCERIUS.
Can you describe a typical workday at SINCERIUS?
On average, I work around three days at the office and two days from home. Each morning, I start with a BI stand-up call at 9 a.m. Our system collects data each night, and our clients expect dashboards with up-to-date data each morning. During our stand-up calls, we check every morning whether an error in our tables or a network failure has occurred. If so, I start my day with resolving the errors and making sure everything is optimally running. Afterwards, I check my emails, add new features to dashboards or reports of my clients, set up a dashboard for the financial due diligence team or improve our current offerings by developing new development tools. I mainly work individually for my own clients. We have a couple of larger clients for which we work in a team. Overall, we have a close team and often help each other out with our individual projects.
How did you experience the change from studying to a full time job?
I was very happy that I finally had my Master’s degree and could work full time. After all those years of study I looked forward to apply my knowledge in practice. I got energy from the fact that I was doing something very useful and from working in such a company that fits my interests. As a student you are never fully finished with your courses. As an employee, I can close my laptop on Fridays and open it again on Mondays – I enjoy this good work-life balance.
During my studies I was not sure what a future job for an Econometrics’ student would look like, so I was glad to finally find out! The aspects I learned during my Master’s in Econometrics are not all directly applied in practice. At SINCERIUS I acquired a lot of new skills, such as accounting and different programming languages as compared to the ones I used during my studies.
Do you have tips for students that are about to graduate?
I used to not know what my upcoming plans were, but I ended up somewhere exactly right. I noticed that, at least at SINCERIUS, we look further than solely GPA’s and extracurriculars. We are really interested in the person itself, the story behind the person, and whether it would be a good addition to our team. I would recommend looking for a company where you feel at ease during the process, as you should be comfortable and confident at the company where you will further develop.