alumna Joba van den Berg

To form a community, you need to find solutions together

Joba van den Berg, consensus decision-maker and corona spokesperson

Job Bio 3 min. Aniek Verhoeven

Our alumni have interesting careers. Where have her Tilburg studies brought alumna Joba van den Berg? Since 2017, she has been a member of the Dutch Parliament, where she is the CDA spokesperson for curative care, mental health care, disability policy, the postal market, telecom, and the protection of key sectors. This means that all her days are more than filled with corona-related issues at the moment.

After her International Economics program at Tilburg University, she started working as an HR manager at Unox/Zwan in Oss. Joba: “In the last phase of my studies, we made working visits to companies. I went to Unilever twice, I liked the company and applied there. I’m glad I didn’t know that they receive 3000 applications every year and recruited only 60 trainees. In the last year of my studies, I also worked part-time at the CDA’s research bureau in the socio-economic field.”

Reorganizing, outsourcing, restructuring

From the age of 18, Joba has been active in the CDJA (the youth organization of the Christian Democrat party). After 1980, she served as president of the national CDJA’s Training Committee (Vormingscommissie) among other things. “Gradually I came to the conclusion that the social aspect of business appealed to me.” She worked in positions like HR manager, Head of HR, Director of industrial & employee relations and Director of social affairs. She can now put that experience to good use. “Since change is the only constant in this world, my life working in HR consisted largely of reorganizing, outsourcing, restructuring, and thus of negotiating, for instance, with trade unions and works councils.

I am worried about the impact of corona on society

Joba van den Berg

Corona times

Joba: “Normally I work more than full-time but now even more so: I am dealing with corona and nothing but corona seven days a week. My inbox regularly explodes and I often have various video conferences in one day.” But experiencing the effects of the crisis on society first hand gets to you after a while. “I am worried about the impact this will have on society. Despite financial compensation by the government, entrepreneurs ask themselves whether their business will survive this. And workers – especially flex workers – see their jobs disappear and their income evaporate. Money may not be able to buy happiness, but no money definitely brings unhappiness and that is also detrimental to people’s health. In addition to these financial worries, the corona measures have a great impact on our social lives: domestic abuse is on the increase, older people in care homes and people with a disability who are being cared for in institutions cannot receive visitors, and children that were vulnerable to begin with will have even more catching up to do. On the other hand, it is heartwarming to see the many initiatives of people helping each other and to let others know that they are thinking of them.”

I strongly believe in the back being fitted to the burden, that we will be able to bear the hardship that befalls us

Joba van den Berg

High work pressure

Joba: “I strongly believe in the back being fitted to the burden, that we will be able to bear the hardship that befalls us. Moreover, lots of people are having a much harder time than I have. It is true that I have to work hard, but I am happily married, I’m in good health, and I have an income. And I am very happy that we have an intelligent lockdown so I can still take walks with my husband.”

Are there any positive side to the crisis? Joba: “The only positive side that I can see is the social aspect. The many heart-warming initiatives to look out for other people, the greater willingness to cooperate that you see everywhere, and the boost that digitization has received. And we learn to better appreciate all the things that we were able to do before this crisis.”

Inspired by
my parents

develop my talents and use them to benefit others

Best advice
ever received

Audi alteram partem (Let the other side be heard as well)

My advice
to you

Whatever happens: always keep the dialog going

Lessons learned

Her hard-working and disciplined father taught her: Audi alteram partem, hear the other party. And: always put things in perspective. “In his words: if you die tomorrow, the world will continue to turn. Never think that you cannot be missed.” In her first job after her studies, at Unilever, the president of the Works Council taught her “Whatever happens: always keep the dialog going.”

Be clear about your perspective

Joba van den Berg

Joba: “I am all for reaching consensus. If you want to form a community, you need to be prepared to find solutions together.” Her parents taught her that you receive talents to develop them and use them for others and not for yourself. In addition, she learned a lot from supervisors and in training sessions, that yielded the following take-home messages:

  1. Do not take an existing situation as a point of departure but adopt the perspective of where you want to be, and then think of steps to get there;
  2. Think in terms of win-win for yourself and also for the other: what are the other person’s interests and objectives and be transparent on your own interests and objectives;
  3. The 5 Ps: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance;
  4. Garbage in, garbage out;
  5. In God we trust, to all others: please bring data. In other words, make sure you provide a solid basis;
  6. Try to get enough sleep; a short night now and then is not a problem but it should not last too long;
  7. It is hard to over-communicate;
  8. In periods of high work pressure (nightly collective bargaining sessions), do not worry too much about healthy eating. Just enjoy those warm, greasy, salty sausage rolls;
  9. Make sure you get some exercise, such as brisk walks

Her studies in Tilburg taught her that science is not unbiased either and that you always look at and interpret things from a certain perspective. “Be clear about your perspective.”

Photo below: Hung Chung Chih / Shutterstock.com

anderhalve meter

Curriculum Vitae

Education

2016
‘Commissarissen en toezichthouders’ program, Tias Business School
1980 -1986
Master's program International Economics, Tilburg University
1976-1980
Facility Management program at university of applied sciences, now Saxion in Deventer
1970-1976
pre-university education at Sint Bonifatiuscollege in Utrecht

Top positions

2017-now
Member of the House of Representatives of the Netherlands States General 
2008-2017
Director Social Affairs & Services, Bouwend Nederland
2014-2017
President of Work & Economics Vision Group, CDA
2011-2012
Member of Strategic Consultations CDA
2001-2008
Director of Industrial & Employee Relations, Unilever
2002-2008
Board member of NVA (Netherlands Association of Labor Relations)
1999-2000
Head of HR, NautaDutilh

Private

Jacoba Antonia Maria Joanna (Joba) van den Berg-Jansen was born in Utrecht on August 21, 1958. She lives in Goes, together with her husband. After graduation, Joba has continued to be involved in her Alma Mater and was a board member of Friends of Cobbenhagen for five years.

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