Ellen van den Berg

My name is Ellen van den Berg and I work as an agile coach at ING.


· What has been your most important experience as a mentor?

My most impactful moment as a mentor was when I was Manager Employability & Mobility at ING. One of the team members, a Consultant Employability & Mobility was really having a hard time working with his client and was not having fun in his work. He was really struggling with it.

I had several conversations with him and we talked about what was happening and how he could make some changes. Nothing really changed. On a team day, which was organised by him and took place at his home, I was experiencing a totally different man! He had fun, was proud of his house and family and he took us on a hike where he guided us through the landscape.

Back at the office I told him my experience and how it had hit me: the office must felt as a straightjacket! First he was angry because he didn’t want to admit that something was not right in his job but in the end, when he quitted his job, he felt relieved. He now has his own company in training people and he is using his experience within ING in his role as a training actor.

And, it won’t surprise you: he is very good in playing this nasty, angry, pissed client! My learning? Look further than the person you see at the office, there is so much more to discover and have the guts to talk about it, start the conversation!

· What has been your most important experience as a mentee?
In my life I have a way of acting what makes that people find me critical, a little bit in an aggressive way sometimes. Sometimes helpful, most of the times not. I was acting this way because I was convinced that justice had to be done and that I was the only one who could bring this. Say what had to be said…Till the moment that my manager at that time told me that it is perfectly alright to have this critical attitude but that he expected from me that every time I had this critical remarks, I would make a suggestion for how to solve it or make a positive suggestion how to take it on and bring it further.

He also said that he would support me in showing this behaviour and he really did, in a funny and constructive way. What I noticed is that by acting this way, my “aggressive” part disappeared and that things were created! Much more fun in work and life! I often think about these words and try to live them. You cannot change the behaviour of someone else, you can just act different yourself…

· How did you arrive at the position you are in now?
By trial and error☺. I have my master in Law and that was a perfect basis for the job I am in now. Most important is the fact that I never stopped asking myself if the job or position I was in, made me happy.

Working with people, being of value to anyone…Sometimes it took a while before I realised myself that the position I was in was not the perfect fit anymore and I think that is because of all the changes you are in contantly; in private and working life. To feel good and live your values is hard work but worth it!