Taking Women to the Top

Taking Women to the Top

Wittenborg CEO, Maggie Feng, Joins other Female Leaders at Prestigious Board of Believers Event

Last Thursday, Wittenborg CEO Maggie Feng joined a select group of female leaders from across the Netherlands for the prestigious Board of Believers quarterly breakfast, hosted by BrandedU. Other guests hailed from companies as diverse as Walt Disney, Nike, L'Oreal, the Rijksmuseum, Heineken, Philips, ABN AMRO, Uber, Transavia and Corendon Hotels and Resorts. BrandedU is headed by Nancy Poleon who used to work as marketing manager for BMG in London to help artists such as Britney Spears, Alicia Keys and Pink. She used her expertise to establish BrandedU in 2014.

The Board of Believers Network prides itself on not just talking, but taking action to make the top of the business world more diverse and future proof. They do this by empowering women, giving them more opportunities and supporting them to make themselves visible in order to realise their ambitions. A McKinsey report from 2018 stated that when it comes to female representation in management positions, the Netherlands only scores 25% compared to the average of 32% in Western Europe.

Feng, who attended her second such breakfast, said there were about 50 women and men at the breakfast, carefully observing COVID-19 protocols. "Through fact and figures guests were confronted with the effect COVID-19 has had on women – including the rise of violence against women. "What I like about Nancy’s programme is that we are not just talking about a problem and sympathising with others, but that it is backed by action. Hence, there is actually action coming along. The Women's Rights Challenge was promoted at the event and everyone encouraged to participate.

Feng said one of the speeches that resonated with her was by Mariksa Nunes, managing director of Corendon. "She told us how she rose from being personal assistant to the owner for 20 years to managing director today, and how she was forced to reflect on her own journey to get to where she is today. She also told us how she fulfilled her target of hiring 90% local staff in Curaçao when Corendon opened its resort there. When she said: 'We do not select staff based on their CVs, but based on their human skills', I thought, yes, this is the most important message I need to bring back to my organisation."

Another discussion topic was why women who rise to the top often don't stay at the top. "If you are there alone, is very cold (at the top). I think this has a lot to do with corporate culture and rooted much deeper. A big topic we need to talk about," Feng said.

WUP 23/9/2020
by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press

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