Helen Rijkes is appointed as partner of MIcompany to lead the GAIn Academy

Due to the growth of GAIn – an open standard for AI education – Helen Rijkes is appointed as a partner of MIcompany. She will lead the GAIn Academy and within this academy focus on the development of company- wide educational programs to accelerate AI transformations. Furthermore, she will join the Management Team of MIcompany.

Artificial Intelligence is seen as the next general purpose technology and by 2030, AI is expected to add more than $15 trillion to the global GDP(*). Companies want to reap the benefits of this technology, with 85% of CEOs agreeing that AI will significantly change the way they do business in the next five years(**). The reason for this huge increase in welfare are the opportunities algorithms have to offer. Algorithms can replace and outperform specialized human intelligence such as pricing, diagnosing patients and the planning of supply chains.


Figure 1: Number of AI-algorithms used by enterprises Source: MIcompany Data Science center


Helen Rijkes: “We see a huge increase in the application of algorithms in organizations. Our estimation is that the use of applications will grow by a factor of more than 20 in comparison with two years ago (see figure 1). Creating value with algorithms and understanding how to manage them thereby becomes a key skill that the new generation of business leaders must master.”

One of the biggest challenges to accelerate the performance of algorithms within companies is the skill level of employees. This starts with the leadership, and from there requires the entire organization to build the right skills, change ways of working and develop new roles (***). According to the World Economic Forum, Data Scientists and AI Engineers are now in the top 3 of fastest growing roles (****). To resolve this company-wide skill gap, MIcompany launched GAIn: the Global Artificial Intelligence network – an open standard for AI education that can be scaled across companies on a global level.

Helen: “Everyone in the company will need to learn new skills to work with algorithms. And this starts with recognizing that human brains work very differently from machine algorithms. An algorithm can analyze the characteristics of millions of customers in a split second, but will not be able to understand the emotion in a passive aggressive email sent to a service desk. And because we try to understand AI with our human intelligence perspective, this often leads to making the wrong decisions. Putting AI to use and really benefitting from its strengths requires 1. The fundamental understanding of algorithms and how they can be complementary to our human intelligence to create value. Especially leadership teams need to understand the implications & opportunities for their business model 2. Development of new roles and skills to deal with the changing organization around AI; and 3. Using AI skill building as the in-house accelerator to make the change happen”.


Helen Rijkes started as an econometrician at MIcompany in 2009

Under the leadership of Helen, the GAIn initiative was launched over a year ago with the ambition to become the world standard for AI education (see figure 2). Helen has a background in econometrics and joined MIcompany in 2009 as a trainee. She followed the three year AI & Data Talent Program (AIDTP) of – now – GAIn itself, and has grown in the roles of Data Scientist, Project Leader, Program Manager and Principal within MIcompany. She has led both AI Transformation programs for clients such as NS, Menzis and Van Lanschot, as well as the setup of (in-house) academies such as the Aegon Analytical Academy. In 2019 she stepped into the leading role of the GAIn team.  Besides her work, Helen is a hardcore birdwatcher for which she traveled around the world for 12 months in 2018. Currently she is #43 in the world ranking (*) and even higher in her age group given her birdlist of almost 7000 species worldwide.

As of January 1st 2021 she is promoted to Partner at MIcompany. Marnix Bügel, managing partner of MIcompany: “We are very happy with Helen as a new member of the partner team. Her expertise in building people skills together with her strength in project leadership is an important force in our ambitions to drive AI transformations”.



Figure 2: Helen explaining the vision and design of GAIn at the launch event, November 2019
The growth of GAIn

GAIn is an initiative of MIcompany that launched in 2019. GAIn has issued more than 5,000 certificates and is trusted by blue-chip companies, including eBay, Heineken, Nike, ABN AMRO, KPN, AEGON, Bol.com, Ageas, and Proximus.

Helen: “Over the last year we trained thousands of participants in how to use, develop and steer AI responsibly. It is special to see how a training really can change someone’s perspective and way of working – from executives to business teams to hands-on data scientists and engineers. And our GAIn approach makes it possible to do this at scale.“

With the GAIn initiative, Helen and her team created a breakthrough in how companies can transform with AI education: an integrated portfolio of more than 60 courses to train the entire organization(*), a train-the-trainer(**) approach to quickly scale globally, professional examination and certification(***), scalable learning infrastructure in AWS to support personal learning journeys both in physical and virtual classrooms, and a growing network of trained participants in over 35 countries (see figure 3).  Helen: “Especially now that all trainings are delivered virtually due to lockdowns I am really happy with the professional infrastructure we have created. The fact that we increased the number of training days in Q4 2020 with 36% compared to Q4 the year before, and received a NPS score of 100 on the last fully virtual AIDTP bootcamp program gives a lot of confidence that we have chosen the right approach with GAIn”.


Figure 3: GAIn has a growing network of participants in over 35 countries