In conversation with Marianne Hewlett

Just this past year, Female Ventures has welcomed quite a few new team members in the cities in which we’re currently active – Rotterdam, Delft, Utrecht, Amsterdam and Eindhoven. Just last month, Marianne Hewlett, joined us as City Coordinator. She is a seasoned Marketing and Communications professional, and the Senior Vice President at Atos, an European IT Services corporation, and a global leader in digital transformation.

 

Excited to have her on board, we caught up with her last week for an in-depth interview: What are her passions? What are her goals as the newly minted City Coordinator for Female Ventures Eindhoven? Read on to find out all this, and more.

 

If you had to define them, where would you say your passions and interests lie?

I’d say your passions and interests change as you grow older. When you’re young, you tend to try out a million different things. As you get older, you start zooming in on a few key things that interest you. For me, I love to connect people in order to create something new. If you look at my LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, you find that I’m always talking about my love for connecting people, technology and business. Why? I believe that these three elements are always in a constant state of interaction. I happen to work in a Tech company. It is now a great time to be in this sector because there is just so much happening but technology doesn’t have any benefits if it doesn’t have a human-centric approach to it. And then of course, you also need to consider its business value. Thus, these 3 elements: People, Technology and Business have always been at the center of what I do.

 

I’m passionate about making technology accessible for a wider audience. I love to write – my Future of Work blogs talk about how technology such as Artificial Intelligence, Automation or Bio-sensors are really going to influence how, where and when we work. I find human behavior and culture fascinating. What makes us do what we do, and how can technology enable us to do it even better? For me, rather than it just being about increasing productivity, it’s also about giving people the opportunity to really focus on their purpose in life. If technology can really take away the repetitive, menial, boring administrative tasks thus creating time for you to focus on your passions – then that’s really what I’m hoping that the future will look like. In particular, also with a focus on opportunities and developments for female entrepreneurs and women working in corporates or SMEs, because I don’t think we have enough of them. That’s also one of the reasons why I joined Female Ventures!

 

When you look at the Future of Work and see how different skill sets are needed (softer skills like communications, creative problem solving, connecting) – you realize that these are very feminine traits. So I really feel that the time is NOW, for women in business to step up to the plate.

“I like Female Ventures because it’s a nice mix between senior corporates and young female entrepreneurs who are just starting out. We can learn from each other and we can help each other. It’s all based on leveraging your strengths, rather than simply ‘searching’ for opportunities. We are strong powerful ladies, we know what we want and we have great ideas. We are successful through our expertise and our drive. That is a very positive attitude to have – and I think that is the only attitude to have in order to empower women in business.”

Why did you decide to join Female Ventures?

I’ve chosen Female Ventures because I like their ambition. It all starts from each of our strengths. That is key. It is also very much linked to Technology, we’re trying to link senior leaders with Startups. We have experts who work in E-Health or Robotics… you name it. That is really wonderful and once again, that is working from your strengths. You have something to show and expertise to share – this is serious business. This is not just a nice group of ladies getting together to talk about the challenges we face. This is really a platform to showcase our expertise and that is why I really like it.

“I’ve been to a number sessions from other organisations and I stopped attending their events because it was not my style to be part of a group of ladies that just talks about problems. It is not US against THEM. We now have the opportunity – particularly in this digital era, where connectivity and collaboration is at the heart of everything we do. This is the Female Era – and I think that links really nicely with Female Ventures, where we see a lot of exciting startups and quite a few leading ladies as well. It’s a great platform to join, and to start reaching out to each other and working more together. That is really promising for the future.”

I had been playing with the idea of setting up a similar network in this area as well. Eindhoven is a technology driven region (they call it the Silicon Valley of the Netherlands), and there are also plenty of Women in interesting roles and positions and running startups. So, when Dieuwke asked me if I’d like to be the City Coordinator for Eindhoven, I thought about it. At first I was bit concerned because I have a very busy day job and I wanted to ensure that I can give it the time and attention it deserves. But I’m really excited about it – because I have a really great team in place! It’s not just me, I just ‘coordinate’! We have really lovely ladies within the team in Eindhoven, and we’re planning our first event on the 29th of November, on E-health! In the Eindhoven region there is a lot happening – we’ve got the Máxima Medisch Centrum, Philips, and quite a few e-health startups in this area. I’m really hoping that this will be the start of a growing network!

What are your goals as the new City Coordinator of Eindhoven?

I’d like to see our network grow – that’s our first priority. We want to inspire as many women in business to come and join us so that we can have really good discussions. What I’d also like to see is more involvement with local governments and universities, just to see if we can have more impact in the region. We will reach out more and more to all these different groups, so that we can get a strong collaboration going and put diversity on the map in Eindhoven.

What advice would you like to give to all the women in business out there?

Trust your capabilities. What I think is really important for us women, is to speak up and stand out. We are often too modest, or we want everything to be perfect before we talk about it. We have to learn to be proud of what we do, and who we are – and as an example, stand out. I usually like to make a point when I go into Management Meetings – I will never wear a black suit – I’ll wear a red dress.  You’re an expert, you know what you’re talking about and you have something to contribute. Let yourself shine. If no one has seen you or heard of you, then nothing is going to happen (whether you’re male or female). In particular, we as Females have to become visible.

Written by Tasneem Hooghart, 
Marketing Communications volunteer for Female Ventures.

 

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