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Accelerating personal development through short-term side projects

  • maart 12, 2024
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Six months into his role at Addestino, Miguel has already taken on a wide range of different projects. We caught up with him to ask him about his evolution from fresh hire to versatile consultant and how a short-term interim assignment helped him to further expand his skill set.

Upon joining Addestino in September of last year, Miguel has already immersed himself in different sectors. “My initial assignment was a two-month digital tooling project for a leading payroll provider,” he says. “This was followed up by a short stint at an IT company, and most recently I’ve been working with a utility provider. While these strategic, medium-term assignments came with their own challenges, I’ve also had the opportunity to work on a short interim case in the higher education space.”

When asked about this latest side project, Miguel explains: “Like any organisation, higher education institutions have to spend their budget wisely. One of the leading universities in Belgium is faced with a very specific annual challenge, as it has to decide how to allocate grant money from its primary research fund to various research groups. The primary objective is to award grants efficiently to different departments, taking into account both short and long-term returns on the investment. To access a share of the internal budgets, each faculty seeking funding must submit an internal subsidy application to the university. These applications are a leading factor in the decision-making process for the university’s review team. The final proposals of the research groups can easily run into dozens of pages. The team responsible for assessing the files was looking for a fast and time-efficient way to compare these proposals. This is why, over the past decade, the university in question has enlisted our consulting team to conduct initial screenings of the cases. Our main goal is to deliver short summaries for each case, along with a funding recommendation.”

While the project is relatively limited in scope, the deadline was tight. “With six case files for our team to address in a short time frame, time was of the essence for this project,” Miguel says. “To expedite the process, we split the workload between myself and two other consultants, ensuring a quick turnaround. With an average of two to three days allocated for each case analysis, I had to engage in consultations with the senior leadership for additional feedback.” The team established a few key assessment criteria, including potential short and long-term value of investments in specific research groups and the potential for patent or spin-off revenue.

The cases not only offer our consultants a compelling short-term intellectual challenge in between longer projects, but also serve as a valuable learning opportunity for internal coaching, review and teamwork on specific research topics. “Projects like these are excellent for gaining additional expertise in different contexts,” Miguel elaborates. “After my initial assignments upon joining the team, this case provided a refreshing change, allowing me to explore new industries and collaborate closely with the leadership team for case review and personal development. The experience has also helped me in my current long-term utility provider assignment.”

Based on the facts, references and market conditions, Miguel and the rest of the project team made recommendations for the university on the granting of subsidies. This helped them in making the best possible decisions going forward, maximising the likelihood of return on their investment. In addition, this case turned out to be an excellent proving ground for our consultants, allowing them to dip into new sectors and explore their knowledge gaps further. When it comes to his personal career growth path, Miguel is clear: “I’m really enjoying the wide range of strategic projects. I’m able to share my ambitions with both the HR and management teams, who fully support me in my journey. We’re always able to communicate openly, and the team is proactive in suggesting future assignments that align with my personal development goals.”

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