Speaking to us all the way from Australia is Patrice den Hartog, Head of Customer Value Management at Optus. When asked about the defining moments in her career, she noted that in her experience, how you show up every day is more impactful in your career than specific moments can be.

Patrice started her career at Boston Consulting Group directly following her studies. Having the opportunity to work across a range of industries, solving complex problems with some of the brightest people in the world, and having a seat on the board from her very first day Patrice had an accelerated learning curve in an environment that does everything to get the best out of you and provide the very best for its clients. This set her up with a foundational skillset that she still benefits from every day in her work and life.

“I never realized how direct the Dutch culture was.”

Moving to Australia was a pivotal moment for Patrice, as a move that was intended to last a few years turned into building a home and settling down thousands of kilometers away from the Netherlands, where Patrice is originally from. Her international experience and ability to work with different cultures was and continues to be a shaping experience. Patrice reflects that she’d never realized how direct the Dutch were until she arrived in Australia. This experience allowed her to notice the importance of being aware of how you come across to others and thereby the impact you have on them. The cultural context you are in plays a crucial role in the communication you have with others and adapting yourself to your environments requires self-awareness.

A decade into strategy consulting, Patrice decided to move into a more corporate career. While the caliber of the people and problems dealt with in her career in strategy continue to interest her, she decided to make the change to shift from leaving these issues at the advice level to being a part of driving the change and making an impact. She can now bring in elements of her background in strategy to her current business leader role. This unique combination of skills is rare and helps her daily to be a better leader.

“Usually when people get to the point of working at 100-110% intensity they think the right thing to do is taking a step back… Instead of taking a step back we should ask ourselves ‘how can I take a step forward?’”

For Patrice one of the biggest learnings has been finding the balance of becoming a mum and being an executive leader. She recalls that earlier in her career being efficient and working longer hours was an effective way to achieve a lot, but when you move higher up and have a family, this strategy is not as effective anymore and creative, different thinking is required. To exemplify this she shared the changes she made when moving from having two children to three. It was then that she began to value quality time over quantity of time, and thus reconfigured her support system to enjoy being a mum while having a career. She and her family felt fortunate to be able to have Dutch aupairs living with them – until COVID hit. Her children still have very fond memories of their ‘big sisters’ who had a big impact on them.

“Nothing is either good or bad. Just thinking makes it so.”

Upon sharing the various advantages, she has had as a woman in leadership, such as being able to build relationships faster and being less threatening in the alpha male mentality that sometimes surrounded her, she reflected on (some) women’s tendency to overthink and worry. Patrice has been on a personal journey for the last 10 years to reduce energy drainers and worrying about things that often don’t even matter. She shared her technique on how you can do the same: balancing your view. Whenever Patrice thinks of something good, she challenges herself to see the other side and vice versa when thinking of something bad to see the other side of that. By neutralizing thoughts and experiences, worries and heightened emotions subside. Patrice recommends doing this on a regular basis, even daily (if possible) to see a true change in mindset over time.

“Find the reason why you are here today and do not constantly focus on what is next.”

When asked about her values as a leader Patrice said having fun “while it may sound weird” is a key driver for her. She remarks that often people are so focused on the next step, for example taking a job simply because it is a stepping stone to reach their end goal. While Patrice sees the importance of building a career with a goal in mind, she also encourages you to focus on and enjoy the journey.

“I would love for women in leadership to enjoy being women in leadership.”

Patrice ultimately wants women in leadership to enjoy being leaders and to be able to combine this with the various dimensions of life without sacrificing too much in one area. She hopes to share her knowledge through this blog article and reduce worry and overthinking which is a topic she feels many women (and men!) still struggle with.

The #SheLeads series on inspirational Women in Leadership will be back in January 2023! We hope you have enjoyed following along so far and keep your eye out for our next blog posts! 


Ute’s career has taken her through many different positions and roles. Getting a Master’s in History of Arts and Political Science, she stayed away from Business in her studies and in her first jobs. In fact, she started off doing a lot of Journalistic work, writing for Newspapers, creating recordings for radio shows and television. While launching her own startup to design websites for other companies, she liked to doodle, and when these doodles were noticed, she published a book! Up to this point, creative work was a leading factor in Ute’s career journey.

“Love it, change it, leave it”

Then, she took a different turn in her career and joined a big media company… and promptly realized that she did not match with leadership there. Coming to that realization led to her leaving that job and starting on a new path in her career. In fact, Ute lives by a simple mantra – Love it, Change it, Leave it. Easy to say, but sometimes hard to do. Essentially, Ute recommends that if you do not love a situation you are in, then try to change it. If you cannot change the situation, then leave it. This also aligns with the way in which Ute views the way work is organized: people should think more of their work in terms of roles instead of functions. Each individual has strengths to capitalize on in their work, so finding the right role instead of the right function is key.

“Organizations can work in a very different way, and you should not take the rules for the truth.”

Recognizing this and acting upon it can be difficult, but Ute reaped the benefits of this decision when she started in WestLotto. Going into a company that had a strong hierarchy was not something that was easy for Ute, as it was not what she was used to at all. One day, she attended a Design Thinking workshop, and had a WOW moment – this was the way she wanted to work. One of Ute’s main lessons learned is that organizations can work in very different ways than they do, and rules in place are not always to be taken for granted and accepted as if they were set in stone. After doing lots of pioneer work in various capacities within WestLotto, Ute landed in innovation management, which was the culmination of all the work she had done until then, and matched with her interests and passion perfectly!

“It’s more about coaching than leading.”

In fact, Ute is continually working to innovate in her team and company to modernize the way work and teams are structured, applying design thinking, systems thinking, SCRUM, OKR, Purpose-Driven Company and more innovative models to modernize work! Ute views leadership more so as coaching, helping reveal an individual’s strengths – which is one of Ute’s own strengths – and giving them roles in which they can apply and raise their potential, making use of the T and Y-shaped skills model. This means not only making use of the deep knowledge a person possesses, but also their broad knowledge and experience, along with the power of collaboration within teams. Ute’s purpose as a servant leader is to do creative work with individuals to increase their creativity, getting them out of their comfort zone and trying new things. She strongly believes that a clear purpose and guiding star is the first thing that any leader needs to set for themselves, and this is her’s.

“I think women are really in the driver’s seat for changes at the moment.”

Ute believes that this is a great time for women to instigate change, as we change the way we organize work and structure companies, leaning more towards design thinking that emphasizes strengths that women possess, such as great empathy and communication.

So, what does she want to see happen for women in the future? Getting rid of old structures where women sometimes have to work harder than men (or be a better version than men) to receive recognition, and instead using more lean methods, focusing on people’s many skills and abilities. She would also love to see a move towards fun leadership.  In her opinion, we need less expert leadership and much more empathic leadership that fosters self-leadership. As hierarchy-free self-organization is the main topic of the future for organizations in a complex world, an emphasizing this self-leadership will be beneficial.


For our German readers, be sure to find out more about Ute’s vision and combination of Design Thinking for women in the workplace in her book, co-written with Martina Hesse!


Our next #SheLeads blog will feature Patrice den Hartog, a woman in leadership who spoke with us all the way from Australia, she sharing key moments in her career how she found  balance in her career and in her mindset.

First of her family to attend university and now head of the HR Centre of Expertise of NN Investment Partners, this week we sat down with Elsa Endlich-Metsellar, an inspirational leader.

When she was 2 years old, Elsa and her mom packed up and moved to the Netherlands all the way from Portugal. At the time, this was not the easiest of transitions and changing her last name to that of her Dutch stepfather’s so as not to be known as the “foreigner” had its impact on her self-esteem. Nevertheless, this experience is what has given her such drive and passion for the work that she does and sparked her interest in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). 

“I always try to build teams with individuals from different backgrounds because, first of all, you can learn a lot and second, those teams are high performing.”


Elsa’s interest in DEI translates into the work environment Elsa aims to create for her team and within her organisation. The below visual takes you through a few key elements that can help any leader create an inclusive and open environment.

Elsa’s advice on “How a leader can create an inclusive and open environment”:

  1. The leader talks last. Instead of giving your opinion immediately and thereby impacting how the rest of your team reacts, wait and let them share their own ideas first.
  2. Understand the various types of people in your team and ensure everyone has a voice. As Elsa calls them, there are some “eager beavers” that like to shout out the loudest. It is therefore paramount that leaders also give room to quieter, more introverted teammates. In virtual settings, using the chat function for example can be more comfortable for those individuals to share their thoughts.
  3. See challenges and mistakes as learning opportunities and ensure this mentality is shared with your team. As a leader you must avoid the “blame and shame” reaction and rather provide a platform for your team to reflect and learn how to do better next time.
  4. Have a common purpose. To create this, ask questions like: “what do we want to be known for as a team?”, “what qualities do I bring with me as a leader and what qualities do my teammates bring?”. By creating and understanding a common purpose you create a sense of belonging.
  5. Create a culture of accountability. Give one another proactive “feedforward” as opposed to “feedback”. What do you appreciate and what ideas do you have for your teammates?


Elsa is not a fan of describing a woman in leadership as a female leader: “you wouldn’t refer to a man in leadership as male leader”. Nevertheless, she recognises that when it comes to leadership, both are not always treated the same. She once took part in a leadership program, and received positive feedback on how she was dressed rather than on her leadership capabilities. What sounded like a compliment at first made her realise that she has to work harder to receive recognition for her talent and achievements, as do many other women. Nevertheless, Elsa highlights that the differences in treatment that men and women encounter in the workplace are not always so black and white. 

“We only make about 5% of our decisions consciously, so if we want to see more women in leadership positions, then we need to be conscious and change the existing structure within organizations, so that bias doesn’t come into the judgement and decision-making process.”


Now we’ve spoken a lot about women. What about the men? Well, “men have an important role to play in all of this”, whether that be in the professional or personal context. Equality in the workplace can only be attained when all hands are on deck which is when men also value equality in the workplace and value women’s aptitude and leadership abilities. On a personal front, Elsa is a mom of three, and in her marriage, her career and her husband’s are equally important; they work together to balance work and family life, which is often an element that hinders women in their career advancement. 

Ultimately, what does Elsa want to see happen for women in leadership in the coming years? “That women become more aware and confident about what they bring to the table and get the rightful recognition in their organizations.” 


Our next #SheLeads blog will feature Ute Hamelman, a woman in leadership with a passion for innovation. Follow the Female Hub on Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin to stay updated!