Young Experts

Our coaches

All Young Experts are linked to a coach, appointed by the YEP Programme Bureau. They will meet their coach during the training weeks in the Netherlands. During their time abroad, the Young Experts stay in contact with their coach via e-mail and video calls, usually once every month. The coaches support the Young Experts with the drafting of their personal development plan (PDP), and play a key role in their personal development. The coaches are able to provide support with any issues that they might encounter with regard to living and working in an international environment. The Young Experts are encouraged to keep their coaches informed about their progress and development, as the coaches can provide unbiased support.

YEP currently works with the following coaches:

Paul van Essen

Paul has 13 years experience in project management and consultancy in both the Dutch and international water sector. Between 2013 and 2016 he worked for VEI Dutch Water Operators in Northern Uganda while he participated in batch 2 of the YEP programmes. After coming back to the Netherlands he supported YEP programmes with various assignments, including the strategy to extend YEP Water and YEP Agrofood and expand to YEP Energy. He has a master degree in International Development Studies from Wageningen University with a minor in Land and Water Management. During these studies he did his internship in Brazil, an Erasmus exchange in France and his thesis research in Nepal.

His passion for intercultural learning started during a year of high school exchange to Indonesia in 1997/1998. He got acquainted with personal development during a multi company traineeship in the Dutch water sector between 2009 and 2012. While working in Uganda he advised short term experts of Dutch water utilities in intercultural communication and collaboration. When working for the Dutch NGO Simavi he was a coach for various employees of Simavi in Indonesia. In 2018 he got certified for the MBTI Step I and since then he facilitated numerous MBTI start conversations with international Young Experts and YEP interns and staff. In 2019 he started giving training in personal development for the international Young Experts. In 2021 he followed a coaching degree at the Upstarter in Amsterdam and continued with an Intuitive Coaching degree at IMC Mensontwikkeling.

´I have experienced the importance of attention to personal growth and development, especially in the work environment. That is why I work now as a coach and work with young professionals who want to explore their talent, potential and ambitions within the water, agrofood and renewable energy sectors.´

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Sara Groenendijk

Sara has a background is in the fields of international development and environmental conservation. She worked for over 8 years in the interface of these fields - first as an expert and later as a senior manager - for a number of consultancy companies and large NGOs. In 2014, she joined the YEP Programme (Batch 1) and worked for MetaMeta at the Ethiopia Climate Innovation Center.

As a result of an extensive soul-searching process, she changed careers and graduated from MMS's Coach Training in early 2016 at PCC (Professional Certified Coach) level. She has been working as a coach ever since, and is now certified by the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC). Sara focuses on cross-cultural interpersonal coaching, supporting individuals and teams to capitalise on their personal and professional potential. She has over 350 hours of coaching practice, many of which are with young professionals. 

In addition, Sara is active in the EthicalCoach project initiated by WBECS. She worked closely together with Prof. David Clutterbuck – a thought leader and international pioneer of coaching and mentoring – in providing coach training and preparing a new generation of Ethiopian managers and coaches to bring about positive change to their teams and the country as a whole.

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Anne de Groot

Anne has around 30 years of experience in dealing with change in the energy and water sector. As a managing director and consultant, he was involved in daily practices on all levels in utilities and private companies, both in the Netherlands as well as abroad.

He learned to appreciate personal soft skills next to professional hard skills in order to achieve sustainable results. Therefore he focuses on exploring the human factor in teams and (working) situations. He has a keen interest in personal motivation and development.

In addition to his initial education in civil engineering at Technical University Delft (1977), and later in industrial engineering at Technical University Twente (1989), Anne completed a study at the Institute for Psychosynthesis (2004) that includes a training in individual coaching. Before employment in the water and energy sector Anne has worked for about 4 years as a business developer in the environmental market and approximately 10 years in research and project management with a Dutch dredging contractor.

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Paul van Koppen

Since 2010, Paul is a Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) coach with a focus on career development, personal well-being and effectiveness of (young) professionals in the development sector. As a coach, Paul is committed to develop the capabilities and skills of other professionals, thereby enhancing the quality of work and life. Over the last ten years, he has coached more than 180 (young) professionals in their personal and career development, a.o. in YEP Programmes, and through his own coaching practice. 

Paul also works as a trainer in the fields of personal development and effectiveness. Within YEP Programmes, this relates especially to supporting Young Experts in developing personal skills, making personal development plans (PDP), in utilising ones talents and strengths, and in the thematic field of integrated water resources management. For the Business School of the Netherlands, Paul is a trainer for the global Water MBA programme.

Last but not least, Paul also works as a senior consultant, manager and facilitator in the international water sector. His thematic fields of expertise are water supply, sanitation and water resources management, especially in the areas of international business and global development. His drive is to get 'things going and working': giving guidance to complex implementation processes, kickstarting new initiatives, managing large programmes and energising others to do their work better (and with more joy and fun!). He has been working as an independent consultant since 2007.

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Maaike Jongepier

Maaike is a cultural anthropologist and has more than 25 years of experience as a management consultant, coach and trainer. She has worked for the ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan. Additionally, she worked for different organisations in the profit and non-profit sector in: Uganda, England, India, Australia and Spain. Her expertise areas are: leadership development, team development, facilitating change, strengthening organisations, as well as intercultural communication and cooperation. She coaches executives as well as teams in order to become more effective within their working environments.

Maaike makes use of the principles of Co-Active coaching, focussing both on action as well as learning. In the coaching process the coachees become more aware of their own strengths, but also of possible mindsets that hamper them. Since 4 years Maaike has her own consultancy firm: MPoweringpotential. Empowering potential through coaching is in a nutshell her core business.

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Lissy van Noort

Lissy is a registered coach and supervisor with a background in pedagogical sciences. She has 8 years’ experience in the international development sector as a trainer and project manager in Southeast Asia, the Pacific, East and West Africa and Europe. She joined the YEP Programmes from 2016 to 2018, working for Akvo Foundation in Vietnam and Indonesia.

After moving back to the Netherlands in 2018, Lissy felt like it was time for something new and made a career change. She started a second master’s degree in coaching and guiding change, started working as a child and family social worker and set-up her independent coach practice called Met Vertrouwen (With Trust). In her coaching practice, she guides young professionals, students, and young adults on a range of topics, such as creating work/life balance, dealing with perfectionism, learning to let go, finding your purpose in work/life, and improving leadership skills. Lissy also co-facilitates the personal development training week for young experts in the YEP Programmes.

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Natascha Soons

Natascha is a political scientist and personal leadership coach/trainer. She worked and lived nine years in countries in Europa and Africa for the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs, followed by several positions at this ministry in The Hague. In the past 30 years, she therefore made many business and private travels to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America. Natascha is a Clingendael educated and experienced (policy) advisor in human resources, change management, peace building, global and EU affairs and was trained in PR and journalism in the UK. She was Chairman of the Female Exchange of Experiences (FEE) network of the ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Since 2012, Natascha is a certified life and leadership coach. She is an experienced trainer, supervisor and facilitator and organised several trainings, workshops and online meetups on self awareness and mentorship. Her main focus is personal leadership and cross cultural cooperation, team building and intervision. Natascha is an active member of two coach intervision networks, besides her work in a management position at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Her passion is for people to create ownership in personal leadership by using their talents.

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Jelmer van der Weide

Jelmer has a demonstrated history of working in the project management domain of water, energy and mobility. After his study (MSc civil engineering at TU Delft) he has served for 6 years both in the Netherlands, as public servant and consultant, as well as abroad, as Young Expert for a water operating company. His wonderment, open questions and genuine interest in people helps him to listen, facilitate and jointly discover interesting worlds. 

Jelmer sees a myriad of qualities in people, dares to guide them creatively, and loves to activate their potential. Even though he has been active in coaching as early as 2011, he has been a certified coach in interpersonal and intrapersonal coaching since 2019. Psychology, chess and creativity excites him and therefore he tries to intertwine it in his working consulting life and private home life. 

You can always wake him up for a good slice of bread and peanut butter.

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Young Experts