Interview with Rik Berghout

Hi Rik, in previous newsletter editions we have featured HR professionals, but actually you have never been featured. Is there a reason for that?

Actually, this was not a conscious choice. I like to operate a bit from the lee and prefer to listen to-or read about others.

Can you tell a little more about your (professional) background?
Definitely! I will tell the short version, to keep our readers’ concentration 😉 I was born 44 years ago in Rotterdam, married for 17 years and proud father of a daughter of 15 and a son of 13. In my free time, I am often on a road bike or running. I also enjoy skiing and sailing. From then to now … HR is the common thread in my professional life. After college, I started at Logica CMG as an HR & Payroll consultant, then as head of P&O at a large Wellness Center, HR manager at the Kurhaus and HR consultant at a municipality. After that, I did a number of interim HR assignments for both profit and non-profit organizations. From my HR role I was often involved in/responsible for career issues, reorganizations, projects around absenteeism/health & safety, sustainable employability and strategic personnel planning. Ten years ago, I started Panthion and in 2019, ViaMensa was added. Behind the scenes, we work with the same team within both labels ->

Why did you ever start Panthion?
Basically because I am eager to bring about change in the HR market. Most HR professionals have their schedules filled with daily activities and do not always have time for specialized issues. Then it is enormously nice when someone can unburden and advise you around the broad palette of HR tools. When I was employed myself, external parties that had a transparent approach and an honest story were actually lacking. I was convinced that there was plenty of room in the market for an entrepreneur who wanted to make a difference. In addition, I am essentially just hugely interested in (the behavior of) people and like to solve things. Now I can tell you from personal experience that it is possible to start your own business with a (then) young family and a newly purchased home. That sometimes it may feel very unpleasant, but that beyond your “fear” growth takes place. That it doesn’t have to be so scary at all to quit your job and choose what you truly love and believe in. They don’t say for nothing : “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough”. It is still our ambition to make a difference by truly caring about clients and making clients feel at home with our club. We try to look just a little further than asked and have an eye for what others may not yet notice. We have been successful in doing that for the past decade. We stick to our slogan: “Panthion is big enough to do a lot and small enough to mean a lot.”

How do you like to work?
If you want to continue to make a difference, you need to have a good understanding of what’s going on in the HR world and with your (potential) clients. Then you must not just act when there is already an issue, but proactively identify and advise. This requires investing and thus giving a lot of time and attention to relationship management. Fortunately, I still get very excited about just that piece in our work. Therefore, I like to visit existing and new clients to have coffee and hear, out of interest, what is going on and what challenges they are facing. We are often called when there is already a problem: an employee is not functioning, is on long-term sick leave, there is a conflict, a reorganization is imminent or there is understaffing in HR. Of course we have solutions for that, but the most fun is to be able and allowed to think along proactively. Customization is then the rule and not the exception. We look at each issue to see what the best solution is and which consultant is the best fit for it.

Biggest frustration?
Well … I think our talent lies in creative solutions and a lot of pioneering. That we are not afraid to put our feet in the clay. That includes sometimes bumping your head or having done things for “nothing.” What I still find unfortunate is when a new contact indicates, “we are already provided and already working with a party.” Missed opportunity I guess then (for both of them 😉 ). After all, I like to show what our options and alternatives are. In rate and quality. It’s always nice when you still get a chance to do that.

What opportunities does Panthion offer for HR professionals and entrepreneurs?
As mentioned, we are full-service provider at the intersection of people and organization for HR professionals and entrepreneurs. Our website was recently completely revamped on content, design, findability and photography For those who have less time to look at it, our services can be divided into these sections:

HR services:

  • Recruitment and selection of HR functions.
  • Deployment of interim HR professionals

Career services:

  • Career advice
  • Coaching
  • Outplacement

Absenteeism services:

  • Second track
  • Stress and burnout counseling
  • Vitality programs (lifestyle coaching)

Training & development:

  • Management development
  • Absenteeism approach
  • Organization development
  • Team development

Finally, any important things to mention?
In conclusion or goodbye? We have a super nice office location in a historic building at Heemraadssingel 167 in Rotterdam. So, are you an HR professional or entrepreneur: the coffee is ready for you!

Interview by: Ingrid Blanken

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