Female leadership has increasingly become a focal point in discussions around the world. As companies and societies recognise the unique perspectives and strengths women bring to leadership roles, there’s a growing conversation about how to support women in leadership, making sure they’re represented at all levels of decision-making.

In this context, we are speaking with Nathalie Nijhuis-Lam, an accomplished female leader with expertise in brand marketing. Nathalie holds key positions as a supervisory board member at CLIQ and as the ESG Brand Marketing Lead and Head of Brand Sponsorship at Philips. Her extensive experience includes working with renowned brands like Red Bull, Heineken, Philips, KLM, Transavia, Rijksmuseum, SNS Bank, and various organisations in the TV, insurance, and financial sectors. Nathalie’s recognition in the “de Kleurrijke 50” as one of the influential people of colour in the marketing industry underscores her impact.

In this article, she explains to us her views on female leadership, her professional journey, the challenges she has navigated, and the insights she has gained along the way.

Hi Nathalie! As a female leader, how have you navigated your career path to reach your current position so far, and what, if anything, do you think you had to take into consideration more compared to your male colleagues?

I did not intentionally chart a specific course for my career; I always pursued my passion. Success comes naturally when you follow your passion, leveraging your inherent strengths. It is essential to recognise potential biases against women in their career pursuits. People tend to see more obstacles for women to follow their career path. For example, are they willing to invest as much energy in their work once they potentially get a family or can they deal with the investment required when you grow in your position?

What advice would you give to young women starting their careers?

My advice is to connect with someone you aspire to be in your future career; and seek their support or mentorship. Inquire about self-education opportunities, and ideal career progress, and find a company aligning with your aspirations. Don’t hesitate to collaborate with other women, forming a support group.

Can you tell us about a specific challenge you faced as a female leader and how you overcame it?

Balancing roles as a mother, partner, colleague, friend, and family member is challenging; perfection is elusive. Accept imperfections, seek support, and consider guidance from a business coach when needed.

In your opinion, how do you think companies should approach mentorship and sponsorship for women and what steps should be taken to ensure that women are represented at all levels, including leadership positions?

Creating an inclusive workplace depends on various factors. Ensure your company mirrors society at all levels, supported by data. Incorporate mentorship into onboarding and internal leadership growth. And also, encourage individuals to be mentors and embrace mentorship.

What do you think are unique strengths that women can bring to leadership positions?

Avoid focusing narrowly on gender stereotypes; everyone possesses unique strengths. Recognise and celebrate diverse strengths within a team setup.

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