The Research Consulting Adventure of Two Dutch Interns in Indonesia

the research consulting adventure
Meet Gijs and Hendrina who travelled to Indonesia with Philips to help localization efforts of a maternal health solution.

Names: Hendrina Zijlstra and Gijs van Keulen
Roles: Research Consulting Interns with Philips

Location: From the Netherlands to Indonesia


When opportunity comes knocking, you seize it. 

That was exactly what Hendrina Zijlstra and Gijs van Keulen did, as soon as they both tag-teamed on the Financial Study Association Amsterdam (FSA) Research Project. The project requires students to partner with an organization that is active in a specified emerging market to conduct research and identify areas for further optimization in order to show the added value of consulting to the business. This year’s destination: Indonesia.

As a well-recognized company in the Netherlands with a large global footprint, Dutch students, Hendrina and Gijs immediately considered Philips as a potential partner in their venture. Having come across an article on Philips’ contribution to the Indonesian maternal health market, the duo connected the dots!


“The first Philips employees we spoke to were immediately enthusiastic about the research opportunity in Indonesia and were keen to give us the chance to take part in Philips’ localization efforts,” describes Hendrina of the initial conversation. This marked the start of an unforgettable, knowledge-yielding and rewarding journey for Gijs and Hendrina with Philips.


Listening & Optimizing

Philips Mobile Obstetrical Monitoring (MOM) project in Indonesia was launched to address fatality of pregnant women during pregnancy. The MOM solution helps with the early identification and management of high-risk pregnancies. With the app, midwives can build a relevant health profile of pregnant women by collecting data from physical examinations and tests. This lends support to obstetricians or gynaecologists to determine if a pregnancy might be high-risk, in which case immediate and adequate help can be provided.


As Research Consulting Interns for Philips, Hendrina and Gijs were deployed to three different Indonesian provinces, namely Bali, Sumatra, and Sulawesi. During this time, their mission was to listen closely to the local stakeholders to understand the local needs and health system service delivery.

“A large part of our days was spent interviewing midwives and health providers from the different clinics,” says Gijs. “We tested the MOM with them in our first week, while the other three weeks were spent in regions where the MOM had not been introduced”.


“Our job was to understand the local needs and context to identify areas for improvement of the MOM solution and its positioning in the market,” adds Hendrina.

the research consulting adventure
The Dutch duo spent four weeks in Indonesia!

Discovering Solutions through Challenges

While Hendrina and Gijs received an initial training at the Philips ASEAN Pacific headquarters in Singapore, as well as weekly support by Philips employees in Indonesia, there were of course challenges that made for additional learning experiences.


“The language barrier was sometimes a big challenge for us,” shares Hendrina. “Even though we had a translator, I realized that communication extends beyond mere words. There are subtle nuances and differences between languages and cultures that can lead to a misunderstanding and in turn, reflect wrongly on the localization. I really learned to read body language to be sure that I understood every situation correctly.”


With limited network connection, electricity, and infrastructure, the local environment also proved to be a challenge.


“Access to basic necessities was often still ‘in progress’ in many areas, while some regions had more financial resources than others,” Hendrina reveals. “There was a huge difference between how people in Bali and people in Sumatra responded to the MOM solution. In Sumatra, some struggled with the app initially due to their lack of familiarity with smart phones.”

the research consulting adventure
The local environment proved challenging yet it inspired Hendrina and Gijs to help improve the lives of the locals.

Despite the challenges, the continued motivation from other Philips employees helped the team to power through towards better outcomes.


“Our Philips colleagues from India, Indonesia, Singapore, and even the Netherlands, were all extremely passionate about improving people’s lives,” Hendrina shares. Gijs adds, “They encouraged us to persevere in order to make the product work best for the different local requirements, and more importantly, to focus most of our energy on solutions rather than problems.”

Learning about Philips

The research did not just open their eyes to the diverse culture and environment of Indonesia, but also to Philips’ work ethic across the board.


“What struck me most was how personally Philips treated their products,” Gijs enthuses. “Philips really understood that in order to improve people’s lives, they have to focus on the end user – the customer.”


Hendrina concurs: “I did not know how much effort they put into researching the end user! That truly shows how much Philips genuinely cares about making a difference to consumers’ lives through their products.”


Another admirable trait that the duo observed at Philips was the spirit of collaboration. “The informal setting, and the ease of contacting anyone, anywhere, made it feel like a very welcoming place to work,” says Gijs. “We experienced strong teamwork among people within the local and international offices, involving the best minds needed for the project. You truly believe that their key focus here is to achieve the best possible outcomes.”


The Philips Experience

“From what I have gotten to know, Philips is an exceptional employer,” Hendrina continues. “It is heartwarming to see so many inspiring and talented people thrive in such a dynamic environment.”


In fact, Gijs has already considered Philips for his future career. “Philips is one of the leading companies in the Netherlands, so the company name is of course one of the first to come to mind for a young person eager to excel in their career like me,” he says. “I really admire how they are leading the healthcare industry with their innovative solutions. It would not just be very fruitful professionally but also extremely cool to be part of that.”