What advice would you give to women in your field?
Just go for it! Being a leader has nothing to do with gender; it is about having the passion for inspiring people to be the best they can be. This can be as individuals or as an entire team. The power of a team is undeniable if there is respect for one another’s strengths and weaknesses and trust and passion towards the same goal. On a personal note, find a mentor that will challenge you to be the best that you can be and never stop learning. I have had great mentors who give me the extra push when I need it, sometimes whether I want it or not, which makes them great mentors. Stay curious! There is so much to learn, and the world is changing so fast. You can learn something from every person you meet, challenge you face, and book you pick up.
How are you breaking barriers faced by women in your field?
Well, I started my career as an accountant. When I came to Trouw Nutrition, I found a culture that I loved with a mission I believed in. This opened the flood gates for me. As time went on, my passion only grew and morphed from hiding behind spreadsheets to leading projects to overseeing Trouw Nutrition USA Companion Animal. I worked hard to understand the many parts of the business and took advantage of mentors and any training that came my way. Throughout my career, I have been the only ‘woman at the table’ in many instances. I actually didn’t think about it much until the last few years and started getting questions like these. For me, there are many reasons that people may not respect your opinion, and I try not to take it as bias and find new ways of approaching these situations. I have also been lucky to have men around the table that would not put up with bias and stood up for me when I didn’t even see it myself.
Tell us about a woman you look up to and why.
At a young age, I lost my mother to cancer, leaving my dad and me to face the world together. I was lucky to have an older sister and many women from family to neighbors that stepped in and supported me along the way. At my wedding, I had 12 women walk down the aisle to light a candle for her. It was bittersweet that my mother was not there, but I felt honored that these women were a part of my life. Each of them taught me something different, and I don’t know where I would be without their support. On top of that, my dad taught me many things and always gave me the courage to stand up for what I believed, the courage to follow my passion, and the strength to never give up. From a young age, he gave me a seat at the table and ensured that I had a voice, whether it was asking too many questions at school or deciding on a course of treatment. I am fortunate to have a father who inspired many to live their lives to the fullest and follow their passion regardless of their background; what true leadership is all about! My sister and I are both doing what we love, which is a testament to the courage and strength that he passed along to us.