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As a child, you usually know what you want to do later in life. Over time, through your studies and different jobs, you find yourself doing completely different things. The question that we should ask, is: “Am I actually in the right place?” The Vrije Universiteit Brussel wants employees to think about this and take control of their careers themselves. To raise awareness, VUB launched the ‘Take control of your own career’ campaign with a keynote speech of Veronika Wuyts, career coach, and two workshops.


We can already hear people stressing that when career coaches come to tell you to think about you career, it means that jobs are in danger. ‘It’s nothing like that,’ claims Tanja Verheyen, HR advisor with Mens&Organisatie (People&Organisation, or M&O) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. ‘The campaign has a very positive approach: it’s about you, as a person, finding out where you stand in your career. The motivation behind it is a book by Veronika Wuyts: Goed bezig check-up. The goal is to make people less vulnerable to the increasing pressure that we are exposed to at work. People used to have a linear career where the employer decided whether you would receive a promotion. But that time is over; people now want to decide about their careers for themselves. But there’s a big difference between ‘want to’ and ‘can’. This campaign supports the decision-making process by highlighting what people can do and what they want to do. However, it all begins with awareness. And on this basis, Veronika kicked off the campaign on 24 April with her keynote speech.’


15% committed to the work


Veronika Wuyts is a career coach and the driving force behind Talents@Work. On 24 April, she gave a keynote speech at VUB. ‘The name of the company says it all: put your talents to work; you have more talent than you think. In my keynote speech, I looked at why, how and what you can do to stay in control of your work life. So that you better learn to surf the waves of change that are already there and choose which waves are still worth pursuing for you. You’re someone who evolves throughout life; your needs and energy do too. A yearly check to see whether you’re in the right place is not a luxury in this fast-changing society, it’s a necessity.’


According to the Gallup report for 2017, only 15% of fulltime employees worldwide are committed to their work. ‘Everyone still has the choice of tackling something else. Maybe you can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond. Not everyone is aware of this. In the companies and organisations that I visit, it appears to me that employees have a limited self-awareness of what really drives them. We learn a lot about a variety of things and about other people, but painfully little about ourselves: who we are or who we could be. As a result, a lot of people are unable to stand up if something is no longer right for them. And if you don’t know what you’re good at, your possibilities will be underused in this highly competitive world.’


Continue reading below the picture to discover 5 tips to take control of your career.

Veronika Wuyts: "In the keynote address, we looked at what you can do to stay in control of your work life."

Where does your future lie?


The keynote address by Veronika will have a practical follow-up with two workshops given by Tanja Verheyen and career coach Annelies Poppe. Tanja: ‘In the keynote address on 24 April, Veronika explained that everyone has a suitcase full of experience and competences with them. And how to highlight your own. The workshop on 22 May delves into this on a very practical level: what talents do you have and what can you do? The second workshop on 5 June will be about what you want. Is the role you’re currently in really what you want? Are you in the right place? We teach you how you can strengthen yourself. And we teach you to understand where your future lies. But it’s absolutely not because the university wants to cut anyone loose. On the contrary, the goal is to raise awareness and let you discover for yourself where you are and what you’re capable of.’


A refreshing approach


Tanja Verheyen: ‘Normally, employees don’t jump at the thought of taking an approach like this. There’s a sense of fear that their employees will go searching elsewhere. The Vrije Universiteit Brussel takes a completely different perspective: it’s been scientifically proven that employees will be better committed if they are made aware of their own career paths. And from its perspective as an employer, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel wants to make its employees more employable: this is why we are investing in helping them to perform better. It’s very sensitive material of course; we are pushing people out of their comfort zones to think about themselves. That’s not easy for everyone; you need courage to do it.’

VUB staff that wants to know more about the procedures for international mobilisation can contact Elke Ceuppens, staff member at M&O.


Practical information

  • Tuesday, May 22 from 9 am to 1 pm
    Workshop day 1: ‘Aan het stuur van mijn eigen loopbaan / At the wheel of my own career’.
    By Tanja Verheyen and Annelies Poppe
    Campus Etterbeek, building M501
    Register via the VTO website
  •  Tuesday 5 June from 9 am to 1 pm
    Workshop day 2: ‘Aan het stuur van mijn eigen loopbaan / At the wheel of my own career’.
    By Tanja Verheyen and Annelies Poppe
    Campus Etterbeek, building M501
    Register via the VTO website



Five tips to take control of your career - by Veronika Wuyts

  • Every year, make an inventory of the past year: am I doing well? What’s going well? What am I not so happy about
  • Your resources determine your resilience: what uses your energy and what gives you energy? Knowing this helps you to keep your resilience under control instead of suddenly running empty. Hang your answers to the questions on your refrigerator, visible to everyone, especially yourself.
  • Use your energy wisely: what is worth putting your energy into? What doesn’t give you anything back? Choose your battles. There are battles enough, but unfortunately not enough energy.
  • Strength in numbers: let a person you can confide in know what is happening and what you would like: speaking these thoughts aloud is the first step to realising them and committing yourself.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat: do this every year, just like a visit to the dentist. And for the same reasons: your well-being and that of your environment.