Experience Pauline van t’Hoff

Consultant ‘Stichting Het Potentieel Pakken’ & Consultant Research Project 2017 – India

Quote: ‘’Besides all the business and personal learning’s, the Research Project is a great opportunity to broaden your view by temporarily living and working in another country and culture.’’

During the summer of 2017, I was a participant in the research project of the Financial Study Association Amsterdam. I was fortunate to travel with a group of 18 fellow students to India. During a period of six weeks we conducted research on behalf of nine Dutch companies. The purpose of the research was mostly based on discovering possibilities for business collaboration with Indian based companies. Besides the amazing culture, fantastic food, and beautiful Indian people, the research project was an unforgettable and valuable experience and today a memory.


During the preparations of the research project, I learned how important it is to have a clear and fact based story to inform and inspire potential participative organizations. Thereby, it was a big learning to examine the challenges of organizations and to link potential solutions to business and labour possibilities in India. Engaging clients is not about the students aim to travel and experience India, but it is about the challenge of the organizations. To gain trust and permission of these organisations it is important to engage in their personal challenges and to cooperate on establishing a research question and potential success factors of the research. This collaboration is essential for a meaningful result of the research and thereby very educational for personal and professional development of the participants (including myself).


After months of numerous (cold) calls, attending conferences and exhibitions, learning valuable research skills during informative workshops of big consultancy firms, we actually went to India. Our backpacks were filled with a mixture of business formal clothes, swimwear, and an appropriate amount of Norit to endure the spiciest Indian curries. Besides the amazing food (and less amazing Delhi Belly), all experiences during the research project in India were unforgettable. I came across so many different and valuable experiences that I don’t know where to start.  The circumstances of being female in daily and business life in India, the hyper-modern and skilful knowledge the Indian working population, the value of knowing the right (read: rich) people and the complexity and history of the Indian culture. Participating in the research project is an experience of a lifetime and there hasn’t past a day that I haven’t thought about one of the great memories I have from the research project.


I learned so much during the research project, but I think that cooperation and curiosity are elements that I still use in my daily life and work. I learned (and failed) to truly listen, to ask questions, not to handle based on assumptions, and to rely on clear, open, and fact-based communication. Especially in a land were yes means no and vice-versa.


Besides all the business and personal learning’s, the research project is a great opportunity to broaden your view by temporarily living and working in another country and culture. Thereby and not surprisingly, spending six weeks with 18 students is a lot of fun. Our group explored the country, ate the spiciest curry, always asked for more cheese naan, and built a friendship that is still lasting today. 


All together, I would highly recommend organizations to cooperate with a group of ambitious students to explore business possibilities outside of the European borders. For future participants, don’t hesitate any longer to engage in this big adventure. Both parties will not regret engaging in the research project 2021.


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