I have a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Technology and studied at the University of Amsterdam and London College of Fashion, with over 15 years of management experience leading multidisciplinary teams to deliver a holistic brand experiences I decided to leave Tommy Hilfiger back in 2009 to join the amazing UXUS team where I was able to see them grown from an independent boutique to then become part of the IPG network as a global retail design brand agency. I was appointed CEO in 2019 and the pandemic created a new set of challenges to work through but it also led to the rise of many new initiatives and new ways of working. I am a mother of 2 kids and motherhood pushed me further towards my ambitions. I didn’t have to pick either or; I see it more as wearing different hats.
I am and always have been open to new ideas and ambitions, with this in mind I never sat down to plan my career, however It allowed me to tackle new opportunities that came my way giving me flexibility in my career to try new and exciting challenges. I gained valuable skills and knowledge throughout my career and naturally led to my position at UXUS.
When working for a large organisation, there naturally are politics which can be challenging to navigate, and driving change is difficult. However I see these experiences as a positive because where there are challenges, there are learning opportunities and these made me into who I am today. I didn’t have that many minority women role models in leadership positions when I started my career. Therefore I feel it is important to set an example to younger women, to inspire them to flourish in their careers; being different is an asset and should be used as a strength.
Being promoted to CEO back in 2019 at UXUS has been my biggest achievement to date, along with balancing the challenges that come with motherhood. At the time of my promotion, I was the only working mother in the company. I want to set an example to women in my team and show them that it’s ok to deal with and have open conversations about challenges in combining motherhood and having career ambitions. I am often asked how I do it but there is no one size fits all solution. Personally, I manage to do it with a certain structure and a great support network around me, which I am super grateful for.
At UXUS there is an understanding of people’s skill sets and specialities. While collaborating in teams, we encourage people to lean into their individual strengths which brings out the best in themselves, each other and the overall concept and design. The organisation as a whole is a nurturing environment and opens up possibilities to climb up the ladder of success.
I see myself as a people’s person. Employees feel comfortable to report and talk to me and I enjoy being their mentor. My years of experience helps with this, and I can advise based on my years of knowledge. I see it as a great compliment that, when employees leave UXUS, I have had a positive influence on their development by giving them career mentorship. We are actually looking to go to high schools to educate children about the world of UXUS and encourage them to get into the creative sector.
It is vital to find your alleys, create strong individuals and find people to support this. For instance, in order to create more opportunities for women, men need to be encouraged to have an active parenting role as well, have a DAD day. The balance is still off when it comes to women working part-time vs men after becoming a parent. It is about men and women having equal opportunities.
For a lot of women, especially my younger self, we compensate so much as we don’t have the confidence yet. We feel we need to constantly prove ourselves, and my own insecurity would stand in my way. I would tell myself don’t be shy to ask questions and believe in yourself and celebrate your achievements – especially my recent one, becoming CEO!
The pandemic and everything that is happening in the world today has created a reset for myself, and I am learning to navigate this. One thing I have learned is that to stay open minded; it’s the only way to deal with change. What type of leadership am I showing, how do I motivate, lead and inspire my teams? It is great that women have more opportunity in leadership positions and can combine their career and having children but how great would it be that in the future my 2 young boys don’t have to call out that I am a woman CEO, because I am simply the best person for the job.