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Why this millennial chose to stay at the same company

Having spent way more time with the company than our usual trainees, Toon Aerts is a bit of a special ORMIT profile. While most trainees move on after their two-year programme, Toon stuck around because he wanted to dive even deeper into personal development. “It’s been six years now. A bit longer than I anticipated (laughs).”

“I studied social and political sciences,” Toon says, almost apologetically. “Not really the diploma that usually leads into consulting, I know. When I’d just graduated, I read an article in the newspaper saying only 8% of my fellow students had any chance of finding a job in line with their education. That came as a bit of shock to me. I decided I should enroll for another year, and went to Vlerick Business School. That’s how I got in touch with ORMIT.”

Oh no, not the comfort zone!

His first ORMIT assignment saw Toon in a short project at Fair Trade Belgium, before diving headfirst in pharmaceuticals at Glaxo Smith Kline in 2014. “I liked it so much, I wanted to stay there as a consultant,” Toon recalls. While it was only his second assignment, Toon did stay at GSK, still working under the auspices of ORMIT. Another two years rolled by, and Toon became more and more anchored in his position as a consultant. “I loved it at GSK. But at ORMIT, they thought I was maybe getting too comfortable.”

Toon refers to an adagium often heard at ORMIT. “To learn something, you need to get out of your comfort zone,” Toon repeats the mantra. “Experience tells me it’s true. At GSK, I had made it to where I wanted to be. So, I wondered. Do I keep on doing what feels good? Or do I take the plunge and see if I can learn something new?”

Onwards and upwards, Toon landed a new stint at BNP Paribas Fortis, before redirecting yet again to something with a more international feel. Today, Toon works as a project management officer for Magotteaux, a Belgian company with international allure which produces materials and tools for mining companies. His job is to roll out Magotteaux’s SAP software to make things more efficient.

“Do I keep on doing what feels good? Or do I take the plunge and see if I can learn something new?”

“Magotteaux has factories all over the world. In the US, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Thailand and several European countries. Right now, we’re installing the SAP software in the Brazilian plant, which means I spend quite a lot of time there.” This international dimension is a wholly new one to Toon, but one he’s eager to continue exploring. “The Brazil project should be done by the end of the year. Next year, I’ll be focusing on Belgium, Spain and France instead.”

Travelling to Brazil a few times a year sounds well. “It does! But it’s really not the only reason I love the job. Magotteaux is part of a Chilean holding, which means I have contact with colleagues there every day. This aspect of being confronted with another culture day after day is so enriching to me, I keep making discoveries. For example, just the way my colleagues in Chile make notes during a meeting is so different from ours. While we in Belgium are all facts and bullet points, they’ll go and type up a whole storyline.” A small difference, but a very telling one, according to Toon.

ORMIT'er for life

So, okay, there’s the trips to Brazil and the richness of global company culture. But why choose ORMIT to go down that path when there are many other options? “The first time I went to ORMIT, I practically fell in love with the company. The first two years, you go from one training to the next. It’s not all about technical skills either, they really mind your personal development with sessions on personal leadership, how to communicate and so on. I was constantly lured out of my comfort zone and learned so much, both on a personal and professional level.”

When ORMIT gave Toon a chance to stay with them after his two-year term had ended, Toon says he just couldn’t pass on the opportunity. “It’s a cliché, really, but for me, it’s the people that make the difference. They’re the ones offering me the chance to learn and have a damn good time while I’m at it, too. Even though, as a trainee, you don’t spend that much time at the ORMIT headquarters, the bond becomes very tight. The trainings are very intense, and colleagues become friends. I still regularly meet up with my fellow trainees from the first two years here at ORMIT. Creating such a setting is only feasible if you work with people who really give it their all.”

For now, Toon stays put. “The way it feels right now, I can definitely go on for another two years at Magotteaux. There’s a lot to learn and the context keeps on changing.” Might this be an ORMIT'er for life? “Maybe! I think if your initial ORMIT period was as intense as mine, you’ll be an ORMIT'er even if you don’t work here anymore. A lot of the alumni have become ambassadors. If I ever leave, I’ll be happy to follow their example.”