Career Stories

As a handball goalkeeper, Dunja Jetten has put a lot of effort into an international career. However, she also aspired a career in business.

Dunja Jetten
23 okt 2023

As a handball goalkeeper, Dunja Jetten has put a lot of effort into an international career. However, she also aspired a career in business. Deloitte offered her the best of both worlds, and an opportunity to fulfil her dreams in Denmark. Now, she’s back in the Netherlands, focusing on a traineeship in Indirect Tax. ‘In professional sports you’re focused on goals and results. Working at Deloitte, I can use that experience.’

‘I was born and raised in the village of Oirsbeek (Limburg). The only options we had were football, gymnastics, and handball. My father had been playing handball for years, so the choice was easy. However, my first attempt to play handball didn’t exactly go according to plan: I had a broken ankle’, Dunja (27) smiles. ‘Anyway, when I was 6 years old, I tried again and turned out to be a talented goalkeeper. At 11 I was selected for the regional team and allowed to do a 4-year programme preparing me for the national youth handball team. Already in my first year we won the Dutch championship, which was an amazing experience at such a young age. From then on, playing handball was my first priority. All I wanted to do was reach for the top.’

Hard work

‘I aspired to play handball for the national team and for teams abroad. It’s really hard to become the goalkeeper for the national team, since they only need two. But I figured that playing for a team abroad would be doable if I worked hard enough’, Dunja says. ‘I’m only 1.68 metres tall, which is quite short for a goalkeeper. But I thought my reflexes and expliosive strenght might help me get there.’ However, Dunja had even bigger dreams. ‘My parents taught me that it’s vital to also pursue a career in business. Handball is fun, but when you get seriously injured, your career is over. So I went to university. I played handball for the Geleen team (premier league) and studied for a bachelor in Notarial Law and a master’s degree in Notarial Law and Tax Law in Nijmegen.’

Reach for the top

As it turned out, Notarial Law was not what Dunja was looking for. ‘I needed a more dynamic challenge and an international focus. However, as I also studied Tax Law, I became especially interested in VAT, which is obviously a cross-border, and very practical discipline. What are the activities of a business? What goods and/or services are being supplied, to whom and in what country? Stuff like that really appealed to me’, she says. ‘I was an exchange student in Sydney for a couple of months. During the exchange I stayed away from handball on purpose, to see if I was able to step out of my comfort zone and broaden my horizon. I met students from Copenhagen, who inspired me to get a master’s degree in Scandinavia. But first I wanted to become a working student. I always reach for the top, both in sports and in business. I believe in doing things well or not doing them at all. That’s why I wanted to work for a Big Four firm. When I saw Deloitte’s job opportunities, it felt like I had found my future employer. During the job interviews there was a full focus on me as an individual. Also, Deloitte offers special arrangements for people doing professional sports, which is amazing.’

I always reach for the top, both in sports and in business.

A dream come true

Dunja worked for six months as a working student at the Amsterdam Indirect Tax team. Then she was selected for a team in Denmark. ‘That was a dream come true. Also, I was able to pursue a master’s degree in Indirect Tax at Lund University in Sweden’, Dunja says excitedly. ‘That was such an adventure. But life in Copenhagen is pretty expensive. So after a while I sent a request to the Deloitte member firm in Denmark, looking for a job opportunity. I found one as a part-time Analyst Indirect Tax, and started in November 2020. For me, that was the full package and a wonderful experience. However, it was incredibly hard to do professional sports, a master’s degree and have a job. So at the end of the season I decided to apply for a full-time job in the Netherlands. The Dutch firm is well known for its excellence in the field of Indirect Tax. The Deloitte traineeship Indirect Tax allows me to gain plenty of experience in international VAT (e.g. e-commerce, supply chains) as well as in customs law, the area's which I like the most. Hopefully, I will be able to do one or more cross-border secondments in the future.’

Doing what you like most

‘Last season I worked full-time and played in the Dutch premier league, but I’ve come full circle now. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in handball, and got the highest possible grade for my thesis at Lund University. This may sound as if it was easy, which it wasn’t. But working hard – and doing what you like most - can get you anywhere. Currently, I’m fully focused on the Deloitte traineeship, and I love it. I like the professional and informal vibe at Deloitte. Coffee breaks are perfect for getting to know your colleagues, just like playing a game of table football or table tennis. The trainee programme is excellent. It helps you to find out what direction you want to go and in which city and team you want to work. Also, I feel at ease with my trainee group. It’s a valuable experience. Meantime, I keep in touch with the colleagues at Deloitte Denmark. I helped develop a new tool for e-commerce VAT declaration. This has created a close cross-country collaboration. We might be using the tool in the Netherlands as well.’

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