Nothing makes us happier than seeing our students succeed in their careers. And sometimes, we get to see them shine at work even before graduation! Lonneke van de Crommenacker is a Marketing and Communication Master’s student at ESEI – but she also works as the Operations Manager at a Dutch non-profit for female leaders. So, we sat down with Lonneke to learn more about her work, and how she’s been able to apply her studies to her job. Let’s get to it!
Helping women become authentic leaders
Lonneke started working at New Female Leaders, a Dutch non-profit organisation in early 2019. She’s been with the organisation since the beginning, and helped founder Caroline Glasbergen set it up from scratch. Together, they produce a podcast and offer tools and content to help people reflect on questions surrounding women and leadership.
Countless studies have shown that diversity leads to more innovation and better business performance. However, the New Female Leaders team believes that having a diverse management team is not enough. Organisations also need to create an environment where everyone can realise their full potential, where feminine and masculine qualities are both seen as assets, and where people can make an impact while leading by their own values.
To further explore this topic, Caroline and Lonneke started interviewing female leaders on their weekly podcast in Dutch, asking them to share their thoughts and experiences.
“We realised that there is so much prejudice when it comes to what a leader should look like, how they should behave – especially for female leaders. So we started asking questions like: How can we create an environment where there’s room for authenticity in leadership? How can women leaders embrace being themselves instead of trying to fit into a stereotype?” Lonneke said.
They’ve now produced 38 podcast episodes, all featuring in-depth interviews with Dutch female leaders, experts and role models.
“We want to give women the support and the tools they need to become leaders,” Lonneke said. “They need role models. They need a network. They need more confidence. And, they need more knowledge to gain clarity on the dynamics of the context they’re in.”
While the podcast has gotten some great feedback, Caroline and Lonneke started to hear from some listeners that they were struggling to apply the advice to their own lives. So, the pair created a tool to help the audience – called the Authentic Leadership Journal.
The journal is a reflection tool that women can use to help put insight from the New Female Leaders podcast into action. The journal gives listeners a set of exercises to go with each episode of the podcast, as well as concrete tips and checklists. This way, women can connect with their personal values on a deeper level, reflect on their vision of leadership, and develop as authentic female leaders on a weekly basis.
Last year, the non-profit also organised three networking events with panel discussions in collaboration with W Hotel Amsterdam – and they’re planning to do more in the future. Their goal is to provide a space where like-minded women can get together and inspire each other to grow.
How Lonneke applies her studies to her work
For the past few months, Lonneke has been simultaneously working at New Female Leaders and completing her Master’s programme at ESEI. She’s gotten good at balancing her hectic schedule: she works during the day, attends classes in the evening and works on group projects in between.
She’s also already found ways to directly apply her newly acquired knowledge to her work.
“In the Digital Marketing class, Tim Cakir gave us some great growth hacks, like how to scrape LinkedIn. I tried it and it really works! My boss was really happy about it,” Lonneke said.
The Event and Brand Management class also had some important takeaways for Lonneke, which she could instantly implement. She took the advice of Dot Lung, a guest speaker who gave a presentation about social media marketing, and started telling stories with her posts. It was a success – and social followers loved it!
Thanks to her classes at ESEI, Lonneke has also gained more clarity on how to talk about her brand and how to position it in the market. She’s learned a lot about design thinking and how to put herself in her customers’ shoes – which is something that she’s implementing in her thesis.
“I’m currently writing my thesis about a digital conference for female leaders. I created a questionnaire for a target group and I gained some great insights into what they want, what’s on their minds and what challenges they face,” she said.
A look into the future
Lonneke considers herself a creative spirit, but her passion for marketing and business is burning bright.
Once she hands in her thesis, Lonneke is planning to move back to Barcelona (she’s been living in the Netherlands and studying remotely for the past few weeks).
She loves everything about the city: the weather, the people, and especially the relaxed way of life. “I believe in working to live instead of living to work,” she said. “And, I love the feeling I get when I’m strolling down a street in Barcelona with a cup of coffee in my hand. It’s so satisfying.”
We are looking forward to having you back, Lonneke!