‘Enthusiasm’ is my middle name. Asa scout, in my studies and professionally I do what I do with passion. Friends sometimes call me a Duracell-bunny or a barrel of dynamite. In short, slowing down is not my thing… Which also means that I get frustrated when things don’t move forward, that being late is not an option and I catch myself at expecting the same speed of life from others. Fortunately, my age, some good advice and a son who is the exact opposite bring me to a halte very now and again. But not for long, because in life you have to move on!
I was born in a liberal nest. In our family of five, I was the only one who was not attracted by the corporate world.Hugging trees worked better for me as a teenager, so the choice for my nextstep was quickly made: social studies. It was during these studies that I first heard about Mobile School. After my studies, I even applied for a job, but I never received a reply... ;-)
The liberal nest fueled my curiosity on ‘the other side’. Discussions during dinner were generally about politics or business. With my left-wing boyfriend (now husband), the discussions were and are very vivid and loud. These discussions triggered a professional interest I would pursue a couple of years later; good things happen when business is combined with social. Later, the reverse logic was added; a non-profit becoming a social business.
On a mission
For some time, I didn’t actively nourish my interest in social profit because I kept working in the social sector, mainly inspired by the Scouts and my studies. I wrote my thesis on streetwork and empowerment, went to India for a couple of months to work for a localNGO and was soon confronted with the shortcomings of my idealism. After extra training and another experience abroad I started working for the Red Cross. Finally, naivety met realism. However hard I wanted to make the world a better place, I did realise more and more that clear processes, strategies and focus are crucial.
I was – and am – convinced that connecting social and business offers unique added value. Based on that conviction, I started my mission: develop my business experience to connect it with my social experience and thus making a difference.
An MBA and a job at Vlerick Business School fueled my insights in the corporate world and my commercial talent and brought another passion to the surface: coaching people in personal and professional growth. Thinking about the company’s challenges with the client and develop training programmes addressing the needs are my favourites! Conversations with CEO’s, managers and leaders concerning challenges and pitfalls give me energy.At Vlerick, I came across Mobile School again and I got to know StreetwiZe, as Vlerick contracted them as a partner in leadership programmes. I also started looking into social entrepreneurship and started a new project atVlerick called ‘Social Profit Grant’ to enable social organisations ingathering business experience.
After five years and a fantastic experience I was confronted with my own convictions. However passionate about talent-and leadership development, the pure profit focus of a company does not match with who I am. I soon realised that my personal drive is in cross-fertilisation. Not in business nor in social but in a combination of the two, based on the hard-headed belief that it’s good for society if both worlds open up to each other. After five years at Vlerick it was time to jump. As the saying goes: The proof of the pudding is in the eating’, so I quit my job, dove into the deep and my husband called me crazy ;-)!
The mission continues
A couple of months later, I stumbled upon StreetwiZe again but this time I became part of the team. The perfect occasion to apply my talent- and leadership development experience in an organisation where social impact rules. Social entrepreneurship pur sang!
Since that day I commute to Leuven to make a difference, together with a fantastic team and a high dose of idealism. I am convinced of the power of the Street Skills- model and the fact that they are crucial competencies to make companies and organisations stronger in handling change and complexity. As a Managing Partner, it is an honour for me to coordinate and develop StreetwiZe activities in Belgium. The ideal opportunity to create added value by combining business and social myself.
My favourite Street Skill? Without any doubt, cooperative competition. Not least because it is actually a contradiction. Fore most because this skill is the one I apply every single day and I feel it makes me grow. Managing a team of freelance partners is a constant movement between standing united and challenging each other and I love it ;-)!
Tags – spontaneous associations by colleagues:
on a mission • determined/hard headed •a black hen laying white eggs • endearing big smile • juggler: keeps many balls up in the air • scatterbrain • negotiator in the making • unicorn • mythical and wonderful • passionate, frank and straight forward • motivated and motivating • explicit and to-the-point • energetic and enthusiastic • stubborn • party animal • courageous • dedicated