Episode 2: The journey of becoming a consultant from the eyes of a young professional – Manouk Kreft

In the second episode of the HonesTea Podcast, our trainee Manouk Kreft joins Bram in a conversation to take us through the first months of her career. With a chemical engineering background, Manouk stepped into this field to develop her skills and gain experience by being a part of different teams. Check out her story and the journey of becoming a consultant from the eyes of a young professional.


Bram Rouppe (B.R.): Hello everyone, and welcome to the HonesTea Podcast episode. In each episode, we dive into what it’s like to work at Cleopatra Enterprise by having honest conversations with our colleagues. I’m Bram, Corporate Recruiter at Cleopatra Enterprise, and today I’m joined by my colleague Manouk. Manouk just joined as a trainee, and we’ll discuss the ins and outs of her role, the team dynamics, and also how the team contributes to the future of our field. As our podcast name suggests, we always start off by asking question on the tea bag.

Manouk Kreft (M.K.): Let me just take this up. What is your favorite music instrument?

B.R.: What is it?

M.K.: Yeah, so I’m partially into classical music, like the orchestra stuff.

I love a good combination of like rock and orchestra, but I think I’m cello or piano. I think those are my favorites.

B.R.: So, do you play piano?

M.K.: No, I don’t.

B.R.: Do you play any instrument then?

M.K.: No, no. I played the block flute. Like 15 years ago.

B.R.: So childhood play.

M.K.: Yeah, childhood play. Just messing around and trying to teach to learn the notes and messing up a lot.

B.R.: Can imagine. So can you maybe start with, you know introducing yourself a bit?

M.K.: Yeah, I’m Manouk, I’m 25. I just started a month ago, like you said and I’m a trainee and my role is Cleopatra Specialist. So I’m working in the Knowledgebase team at the moment.

B.R.: Okay. So can you explain a bit what the Knowledgebase team is for the people who don’t know?

M.K.: So in the Knowledgebase team, we make databases for clients. We support our other teams as well. So our other colleagues with implementations or estimations for the clients.

And we also fix issues so when people report something. We fix the issue, we look at it, we update the knowledge base so it’s always accurate.

And we make personal knowledge base for clients and yeah, we support people.

B.R.: So to start off with, can you explain a bit what Cleopatra Enterprise does for clients? It’s a, it’s a software tool. You’re working with it, clients are working with it. What does it actually achieve with clients?

M.K.: So it gives an understanding of how your cost is distributed over a project. So you can see what the costs are for the whole project, what it’s going to cost, what marks up contingency. So extra risk you’re going to have during the project based on yeah, a PFD or and template that you have. And yeah, that’s basically it. It just gives a bit of an understanding of how your costs are distributed over a project and how much it’s going to cost.

B.R.: And what type of projects are we talking about that they want to estimate?

M.K.: Building new plans but also like updating part of the plans that they have. And it’s a lot of industries that we’re working.

B.R.: Yeah. So it’s a very engineering context you’re working in.

M.K.: Yes. So most of the team have an engineering background,actually.

My background’s in chemical engineering, but we also have some aerospace engineering, and mechanical engineering in the team.

B.R.: Is this something you heard of before in, you know, during bachelors or masters?

M.K.: No, no, it was a complete new field for me so I only started hearing about cost engineering when you actually contacted me for the role and that’s the first time that I came in contact with it.

And during the the process I also talked a lot with other colleagues from Cleopatra Enterprise that explain to me a little bit more what cost engineering exactly is and how we use our background in cost engineering as well.

B.R.: Yeah. Was this also like your first actual like job after, after graduating?

M.K.: Yeah, it is. So I, I graduated like two months ago so from, its my first actual job.

B.R.: And were you like looking also for like an industry-standard job? Like a process engineer or operator, or was it also something you excluded immediately when…

M.K.: No, I looked at a lot of different roles so I was approached by recruiters from different companies but also from recruiting agencies, and I interviewed for industry roles as well. But I think for me, it was mostly the consultancy that appealed to me.

So I think I only interviewed for consultancy jobs.

B.R.: Okay. So how did the first month look like? Like I’m guessing a lot of e-learning, learning the software.

M.K.: Yeah, so a lot of e-learning and getting to understand Cleopatra and what it all can do. Cause it’s a lot more, it has a lot more functionality than you think it has.

So for me it was three weeks actually of e-learnings and cases. So applying what you learn during e-learnings and after that I worked with a client as well and I’m now on fixing issues for the databases.

B.R.: Yeah. So you started off in the knowledge base team?

M.K.: Yes.

B.R.: That I assume that there’s more teams to to go to. Can you explain a bit more about the other teams and maybe about your ambition? or maybe it’s too early to say that but…

M.K.: Yeah, we actually have four teams in the consultancy side. So the Knowledgebase team, that’s the one that I’m in now. We also have the Implementation team. So they go to clients and they ask about their needs and their wants. So, then they come to us and say we want to build a knowledge base or a data set or an import script. So we help them a lot actually. So they are like the contact point between the client and us.

B.R.: Yeah. They’re actually implementing the software with the client.


M.K.: Yeah. And they also give trainings and workshops to ensure that they can work with Cleopatra, and that we understand what they want and need.

And then we also have the Estimating team. So they estimate for the client. So they are provided with the, the content of the plan that they want to build. Or what they want to do. And based on that and the, and conversation with the client they’re going to apply that to an estimation. And then we also have the academy so that’s where they give trainings.

B.R.: STO team, I think.

M.K.: STO team. That’s the one I forgot about.

So there are actually five so that’s the Shutdowns Turnaround and Outages. They do a lot of things like the implementation but also the estimation. And they more look on maintenance in a plant because the plant runs continuously and they stop for a few weeks. And they are doing the estimation and the planning for that part of, of the year for the maintenance.

B.R.: Yeah. And looking at all those teams, is there any I mean you started out Knowledgebase team. Is there any specific team you are most interested in? Maybe it is the team you’re in now, but…

M.K.: I actually enjoy working in the Knowledgebase team at the moment. But I think I want to go to an Implementation team. More contact with the client. But I would prefer if I can combine those two.

Like working on the knowledge basis or on the issues but also the contact with the client is something I really enjoy.

B.R.: Yeah. Well they are working together closely anyway. So far what do you most like about your work? I mean it’s only been a month. Month and a half?

M.K.: Yeah. So it’s a lot of new things for me. A lot of new things to learn but you’re guided through the process quite easily. So they provide with the e-learnings but also the cases and you have support like every day to ask questions and yeah, to see how you’re doing with the e-learning. So it’s kind of a soft landing.

And the team is not that big so you’re always in contact with each other. And that’s what I also like about the company. So it’s the company is I think over a hundred now, something like that.

B.R.: Something like that.

M.K.: Yeah. But you’re still working with a lot of bigger clients. So you’re working a lot of different processes or industries. Yeah. So that’s why I actually decided to work for Cleopatra Enterprise.

B.R.: Yeah. Cool. So what about the team so far? I mean you’re working with more people in a team I would assume. How have you been welcomed the first month, month and a half?

M.K.: With open arms. Like ‘’how are you doing, how are you how is your day, what are you doing today?’’ Immediately taken to lunches, like walking to the supermarket to get some lunch then joining in the canteen and yeah, open arms.

B.R.: Yeah. And what kind of colleagues are there? Is it all from the same background or like is it a diverse team?

M.K.: It’s a very diverse team. A lot of nationalities, a lot of different backgrounds. So we all have an, almost all have an engineer I think all have an engineering background but all different kind of backgrounds. So I’m a chemical engineer but we also have a mechanical engineer, aerospace, so it’s different.

B.R.: And you learn from each other.

M.K.: Yeah. So with a lot of different nationalities. I’m also thinking about English a lot, like talking in English. I switched during the day so I switched between Dutch and English, actually.

B.R.: Yeah, I see. So what would be a piece of advice you can give to people like you, just graduated from like either chemical or mechanical aerospace, any masters like that? What would be a piece of advice you would give them when looking for their first job?

M.K.: Just talk to a lot of different people. That’s what helped me. Like look at everything, don’t rule it out based on a name. Say okay, I don’t know the field maybe it’s interesting just start the conversation with the recruiter or the person in the company that’s that you contacted or contacted you.

And just get more information on what the role actually is. And I think that’s what the process here supplied that as well. So I had a conversation with you to see what my background could what could tie my background into cost engineering.

But then also like the, the other conversations. I think I talk with like five or six different people.

B.R.: So, why in the end would people need to apply here? What’s, what’s so cool about, you know working at cost engineering in the end, why why not go for a typical engineering job but go into this field, because it’s a very niche field.

M.K.: Yeah. It’s very niche and very relatively unknown. So that’s what, yeah. Appealed to me as well. Like I don’t know the field, I want to know what we can do with cost engineering and it’s working in a smaller company but with a lot of multinational companies that need our help or needs our services.

B.R.: Assistance. To in the end make sure that they can finish their projects within time and budget, right?

M.K.: Yes, that’s true. And all the different teams are working together. So we’re all working together and I think I talk to everyone on, I talk to every team.

B.R.: Yeah. Cool. Sounds good, Manouk. Yeah, thanks for being here. Thanks for joining this episode. It was a pleasure to, to have you on the show. Thanks for your honesty and sharing your experiences.


If you feel inspired by Manouk’s story, be sure to visit our traineeship page. Or go to our blog page, there are more personal stories on there. If you haven’t done so, follow our LinkedIn account, Cleopatra Enterprise, to stay up to date. So again, thanks for tuning in. See you on the next HonesTea Podcast.

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