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How Sophie’s coach helped her thrive

Written by Astrid Roest on 31 October 2023 for Graduates

One of the major benefits of becoming an Exellyst, is the extensive coaching and mentoring you get from your Talent Development Manager (TDM). If there’s anything on your mind, your coach will give you advice. They won’t hold your hand, but they will guide and encourage you. This is how Sophie Lievens managed to turn her concerns into opportunities, and shape her work into a job she loves.

Sophie joined Exellys in September of 2020 after graduating as a Business Engineer. She started working as a Functional Analyst at Belfius Insurance, where she – spoiler alert – has just integrated after finishing her Start Smart program. Though if you had told her during the first six months of her assignment that she would still be there two years later, she probably wouldn’t have believed you.

Overwhelming expectations

“When I first started working for Belfius Insurance, I had my doubts,” Sophie told us during one of our Meetings of the Minds. “First of all, I didn’t consider the insurance sector the sexiest of industries. I wasn’t sure I wanted work in insurance – though by now I know a lot of exciting things are happening in the industry in terms of digitalisation. Second, the person who trained me as an analyst had a background in programming. He approached analysis from a very technical point of view. This made me a bit uncomfortable, because as a Business Engineer, I don’t have a technical background. Finally, when I learned that the team expected me to replace this man upon his retirement a few years after my onboarding, I felt overwhelmed. I started to really question if I had a future at Belfius. And if it wasn’t for my coach, I probably wouldn’t have stayed there.”

This could have been the point where Sophie talked to her coach, Elke, about her concerns, but she didn’t do that right away. Because she didn’t know her very well yet, Sophie struggled to see Elke as someone neutral, someone she could trust. “To be honest, in the beginning, I found it hard to know what I could say to my coach,” Sophie explained. “I didn’t know if what I said to her would reach my manager at Belfius, if it would have a negative effect on my evaluation. It took me six months to finally say something, but as soon as I did, everything got better.”

A new approach

Sophie got to express her concerns, and Elke gave her some concrete tips and general advice on how to handle the situation. “She told me that replacing my mentor at Belfius upon his retirement was a burden to be shared with the team, not one that should rest solely on my shoulders. After all, it’s not a good thing to centralise lots of knowledge about an application in only one person,” Sophie said. “Elke also encouraged me to suggest a working method of my own, one that better fit my skill set as a Business Engineer. After that, I talked to my manager at Belfius. I said I wanted a more functional approach to my work, that I didn’t want to do the technical side of the job in the same way it had been done in the past. A lot of the older analysts have extensive technical knowledge, but that way of working doesn’t fit someone with a functional profile, like me. My manager agreed, and I got to shape my work to my own preferences. Now, instead of giving the developers instructions, I collaborate with them in a more agile way. That gives me a lot more energy than having to figure out the technical side on my own.

A little push

Exellys coaches help you to navigate the transition from student life to professional life, and that is very valuable. When you graduate, and you start working, you might be disillusioned at first. “During my Business Engineering studies, I got a lot of theoretical frameworks on how businesses work. I thought I knew what it would be like, but when I actually started working, I discovered that the reality was the exact opposite of what I had expected,” Sophie admitted. “My coach Elke has made a big contribution to my career by constantly questioning my doubts and my concerns. She helped me to see things differently, and gave me the confidence to change my work method into something I enjoy. In the end, I did it all by myself, but Elke gave me the push I needed, and that has made a big difference. For this I will always be grateful.”


It’s hard to take your first steps in the business world. Small issues can seem like huge hurdles, and you should welcome all the help you can get. At Exellys, you get a personal coach who will help you take small steps or big leaps. Combined with our soft and hard skills trainings and our prestigious client list, you can start your career with an edge. If you’d like to know more about our approach, shoot us a message. We’d love to chat.

About Exellys

Exellys is a Tech Talent Incubator. We match ambitious companies with the finest tech talent. Are you ready to drive the innovations of tomorrow? Ready to make an impact and become a future-fit digital leader?

Whether you are a graduate or (young) professional, Exellys will unlock your full potential by guiding you to a challenging work environment that perfectly matches your personality, expectations and ambitions.

On top of that, you are enrolled in one of our very own training and coaching programs (based on your personal and professional ambition and experience). This means that, while working as an Exellys consultant, we are helping you to bridge your ambition to excellence.

Through intensive training and coaching, you’ll gain the essential skills, competencies and knowledge necessary to become the highly effective professional you aim to be. Become an Exellyst and get in touch with us today!

Written by Astrid Roest Talent Development Manager