hét netwerk voor ambitieuze jonge vrouwen

Mentor & Network Programme Update

But why is having a mentor such an advantage to your professional but also personal life? What can it bring you? What mentor can you expect? To find out, we asked Christel van Binsbergen, Lisa Engberts, Julia Smeekes and Kayleigh van der Burg about their successful match with a mentor.

The Mentor&Network (MN) Programme is the basis of TopFem’s Programmes. The MN Programme aims to give ambitious students and young professionals a head start. The programme provides access to the monthly TopFem networking events and the members will be linked to an experienced and professional mentor. But why is having a mentor such an advantage to your professional but also personal life? What can it bring you? What mentor can you expect? To find out, we asked Christel van Binsbergen, Lisa Engberts, Julia Smeekes and Kayleigh van der Burg about their successful match with a mentor.

Christel has a study background in Organizational Change and Consulting. She was looking for a mentor with entrepreneurial experience, as this is what Christel hopes to do in the future. Furthermore, she was looking for a sparring partner, someone who could help her to figure out her next step based on the her own experience. Therefore TopFem and Lof have matched Christel to Karin Parmentier, founder of Katier consulting & Interim Management. Both Christel and her mentor Karin share a passion for helping people and organizations to develop and improve themselves and they are both devoted to the topic of diversity.

I remember going home that night of our first meeting feeling so excited about it, also because we match on both a professional and a personal level.’

– Christel van Binsbergen

By sharing her knowledge and (life) experiences, Karin makes Christel reflect on herself and her future plans. Their conversations give Christel new insights on what she wants to do and how to do this. Another valuable lesson that Karin shared,is that nothing is impossible as long as you go for it and do something you believe in. Having a mentor who has walked the path before, is for Christel the ultimate way to learn and grow.

Kayleigh has a background in Political Culture and National Identities. Energy, courage and honesty were the most important characteristics Kayleigh was looking for in a mentor. As Kayleigh is almost graduated and ready to start her first job, she wanted to be able to openly discuss the different career paths and to get some practical tips and tricks to prepare for interviews. Therefore TopFem and Lof has matched Kayleigh to Loes Mulder, Secretary General of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, which is a perfect fit with Kayleigh’s field of interest: public administration and governance. Loes told Kayleigh during their first meeting that she likes to share her own experiences. This led to a personal and open conversation where confronting questions were not avoided. One of the personal goals Kayleigh is working on with her mentor is to see challenges as a way to improve herself instead of possible risks. Sharing her professional challenges, Loes encouraged Kayleigh to take on large and exciting tasks with less stress.

‘When I heard that my mentor match was Loes Mulder, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, I could not be happier!’

– Kayleigh van der Burg

As the relationship between Kayleigh and her mentor Loes is more professional than between two friends, it is easier to objectively reflect on feelings and behaviour and to ask confronting questions. These kind of conversations can pull you out of your comfort zone, but Kayleigh thinks this is just what she needs to further develop herself both professionally and personally.

Julia Smeekes graduated last year and is currently working at the Ministry of Security and Justice as policy advisor. Julia was searching for a mentor with career experience who can help her think about personal and professional development on the short term, but also on the long term. Someone who can give examples of how she has dealt with certain situations or challenges that I can learn from. Therefore TopFem and Lof have matched Julia to Floor van Wingerden, partner at Perpetuum.

“As I have just started my first job and many things are new to me, having a mentor is very valuable.”

– Julia Smeekes

Julia’s mentor Floor talks about her work in the way Julia would love to talk about her own work when she is at a similar point in her career. Floor really enjoys her work and is able be very happy with what she has reached so far. This also fits Julia’s favourite quote of King Willem Alexander about his eldest daughter who is next in line for the throne: “If you only do something because you must, you will not be happy”.  This quote means a lot to Julia as it is about finding intrinsic motivation and using the energy that it generates to perform. You have to do things you are happy with so you can put your heart into what you do.

Lisa Engberts is currently halfway her Masters Business Law. Lisa joined the MN programme, as the collaboration between TopFem and LOF appealed to her. Because of this collaboration, TopFem members get the chance to be matched to an experience top woman. Lisa wanted to have a mentor to talk to about her future in an objective matter. Someone that inspires her, challenges her, brings the best out of her, who makes her feel comfortably. Therefore TopFem and Lof have matched Lisa with Barbara Kloppert- van Duren, partner at de Brauw. Barbara makes Lisa feel heard and taken seriously, by giving a quick line of contact through emailing about a question or setting up a meeting.

“Sometimes a good friend does not want to criticise you, where a mentor does.” 

– Lisa Engberts

Lisa learned from Barbara what the value is of having a mentor. Barbara connects Lisa to people, helps her by making choices and helps her dealing with her experiences. On personal level, Lisa learned that you should always maintain a positive attitude as it helps in achieving the things you want and being the person you like. On the other hand, Lisa implemented that you should have a clear vision and being passionate about your work on professional level.


Networking is becoming increasingly important in today’s business environment. The Mentor&Network Programme aims to give ambitious students and Young Professionals a head start. TopFem offers opportunities to develop networking skills by organising monthly drinks. Additionally, TopFem will link you to an experienced and professional mentor. This gives you the opportunity to consult your mentor and discuss topics which will boost your career. TopFem has a network of mentors with a variety of backgrounds and who work in many different sectors; TopFem will find you your mentor.

Triggered to get linked to a professional mentor through TopFem? Questions about the linking procedure or about other aspects? Send an email to info@topfem.nl




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