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.

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This concludes our #SheLeads series on inspirational Women in Leadership. We hope you have enjoyed following along and keep your eye out for our next blog series! 

 

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!

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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.” 

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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!

 

From a masters in Global policy and public affairs to being a communications consultant to a learning and development manager, an entrepreneur and now a lecturer and DEI consultant, Elena Messiou has experienced a variety of different jobs throughout her career, with a guiding principle driving her forward: having a job that has an impact on people. 

“What I knew for sure was that I wanted to have a job where I would have an impact on other people’s lives.”

Growing up in Cyprus, Elena’s parents instilled in her a value that she still holds close to her heart in everything she does nowadays; to make sure that her actions positively impact others. Going further into what this means for her, we found out that Elena considers the other in the broad sense of the term, whether that is an individual, animals or the environment, she strongly believes that whatever she does must benefit more than herself solely.

“Of course we’re not all the same and we don’t come from the same opportunities. I believe that to be where you are, somebody has helped you, has opened a door for you.”

Elena was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but privilege is something that she acquired throughout her life through her own hard work and dedication, but also through the help of a strong support system and network that opened doors for her that may have remained shut had it not been for their assistance. And so was born another one of Elena’s values and driving principles: to be someone that can create opportunities for others, in fact, she believes that is the role of a leader, to open doors for others, and share their privileges.

Throughout her career, Elena found herself in some male-dominated environments, which she learned a lot from. One of her most inspiring managers was a man who she now considers a good friend. With him, she experienced firsthand the benefits that an individual’s energy and positivity bring to the office and the impact it has on people working with them. She also saw the value of treating each individual as such; on an individual basis, taking the time to understand them and letting them have a voice, and showing up for them when it mattered. These are all traits Elena admires and respects, but she also believes that each person is different, and that individuality and unicity transpires in leadership. As a leader herself, she values giving individuals the freedom to do things in the way they want, supporting  them when needed, and letting them do what they feel is right. 

“I would recommend to new leaders to address diversity with an intersectional approach.”

Along with occupying a variety of positions, Elena has also lived in a variety of different countries. When she arrived in the Netherlands, she realized that her last name did not help her while looking for a position. This is something that she wishes to see change. Indeed, Elena harbored an interest in diversity and inclusion, and through a conversation with a friend, realized that it was something that she could pursue in her work. There it was, another door opening for her! With diversity and inclusion, Elena hopes to see equitable opportunities for individuals from all walks of life and different backgrounds. When looking towards diversity and inclusion for women in the workplace, she hopes that leaders will take an intersectional approach, considering gender along with the other factors that make up the individual, such as their ethnicity, sexual identity, age and so on to ensure that all women are offered equal chances. 

 

What is Elena’s advice for leaders? To keep on exploring. The more you learn, the more you realize that you don’t know as much as you thought.

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Our next #SheLeads blog will feature Elsa Endlich-Metselaar, a woman in leadership with a passion for Diversity in teams. Follow the Female Hub on Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin to stay updated!

A career with Philip Morris has taken Tui Perez Bean around the world; from the United States to the Dominican Republic to France to Brazil. Tui currently resides in Switzerland from where she has been Finance Director of Africa and Levant and now is Vice President of Finance & Planning for Eastern Europe. 

 

We spoke to Tui about her incredibly successful career. She shared that a key element of her success was the unique possibility to hold positions in various parts of the world, getting to know different countries, cultures and people. Through this experience Tui learned to become more resilient and gain a greater appreciation for change. She also felt fortunate to be able to share these learnings with her two sons who accompanied her to the various places in which she worked.

 

“It is not a one woman show, it is truly a couple’s accomplishment.”

 

A key moment in Tui’s journey was the first time she was offered to go on assignment. She and her husband were both offered equally interesting job opportunities abroad and had to make a decision many dual career couples make; which assignment do we take and how does this affect the other’s career? Together with her husband they made the difficult decision to pursue her assignment and move abroad. She notes that without her husband’s support, none of what she has and continues to achieve would have been possible. 

 

“Women that I hired in Nigeria are now becoming Finance Directors in West Africa…Women I hired in Algeria are now working with me in Eastern Europe.”

 

Another defining moment was when Tui was on assignment in Africa. She not only had the opportunity to work on a variety of interesting projects, enter new markets and work with new people, but to enact real change. A good leader does not only get opportunities but also gives opportunities, therefore a big part of Tui’s agenda was to help give more opportunities to women in a team environment that at the time was male dominated. She continues to follow the careers of the women she hired whilst in this position with a few now being promoted to leadership positions. For Tui this was not about reaching a quota but rather giving opportunities to women who were already there, qualified and eager to take on the position. By opportunity, Tui does not only refer to the job itself but also to the conditions of work that allow women to balance their professional and personal responsibilities. She elaborates that unfortunately, culturally, the role of women in some of the countries she has worked in is still that of the caretaker despite balancing a full-time position. 

 

“I assumed the answer was no.”

 

When asked if she faced any particular struggles during her career as a woman in leadership, Tui shared that one of the struggles was the fact that she felt as though she could not voice the stress or difficulties she faced. For example, she never felt as though she could say she needed to leave at five so that she could spend time with her children; she assumed the request would not be understood and therefore did not ask. Working in finance, long hours are expected; Tui recalls that during a very intense and highly stressful budget process, running late into the night, she had a miscarriage. She shares that it never crossed her mind to tell her employer she was pregnant and needed rest but rather pushed through.

 

Tui notes that nowadays this narrative has shifted and companies are becoming more and more flexible in allowing particularly women to take a break without being penalized. For the first time in her career Tui has asked her manager for a break before starting her next assignment. With a list of bullet points in hand she was ready to support her request and was positively shocked when her manager said yes immediately. 

 

“Once you set your priorities straight, everything falls into place.”

 

One of Tui’s biggest learnings has been to ensure she has set priorities right. For her these are God, Family and Living a Life of Service. Her advice to you is to create a list of three  principles and lead your life guided and motivated by these as values. If these priorities cannot be integrated into your job or life the way it currently is, know that you are in the wrong place.

 

As mentioned, one of Tui’s priorities is to “Live a Life of Service” which is something she has always struggled to integrate into her work and life. While on assignment in Nigeria, Tui saw tremendous need and was determined to help. In collaboration with a colleague, she raised $46,000 to arrange transportation for orphans who had to walk two hours to school in periods of heavy rain. Three years later, this project has inspired 600 similar endeavours which have been heavily supported by the senior leadership and CEO of Tui’s employer. She is thrilled to now have the space and support needed to prioritize this core value and continues to work on projects alongside her job as Vice President of Finance and Planning.

 

Looking forward, Tui hopes to have eliminated some of the struggles women face and share her learnings thereby easing the path for the next generation of leaders. 

 

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Our next #SheLeads blog will feature Elena Messiou, a woman in leadership with a passion for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Follow the Female Hub on Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin to stay updated!

Doors Open came up with an initiative that combines World Compliment day with International Women’s Day 2021. This day commemorates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. In the run-up to International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, we complimented an inspiring female leader every day. These women #choosetochallenge all in their own unique ways. We are proud to present all those amazing leaders we have put the spotlight on with you and share their contribution to this world. 

Do you want to know why we found these women inspiring? Read our blog post