Mentoring event 12/3, Brussels: an interview with Inge Geerdens, Belgian thought leader and entrepreneur.

Inge Geerdens and I have been on each other’s radar for a long time. We are both involved in executive search and research in Belgium, we have even attended the same event, but not spoken.  We have supported each other’s content on social media platforms for years. Despite both being based in Belgium, we had never met. I wanted to change that.

So last Wednesday on an uncharacteristically sunny early spring Belgian day, I set off for the historic town of Antwerp.   After precariously negotiating the side streets of this lovely city, narrowly missing being rear ended by a tram and mowing down any number of cyclists, tempted onto their wheels by blue skies, Inge and I took our seats on the terrace of a small Italian restaurant.

Inge is a petite powerhouse. An alpha entrepreneur by standards set by either gender, she is a LinkedIn Thought Leader, Founder/CEO CVWarehouse, Advisor at Econopolis NV, Bryo Ambassador and member of a number of Boards.

She is direct, forthright and doesn’t pull any punches. Her current passion is to support Your Next Move, an organisation that promotes chess amongst young children. Studies have proven that children who learn to play chess at a young age, develop attitudes that we urgently need in our society and on our work places discipline, thinking under pressure, coping with losing,  strategic planning.   When talking about the project Inge becomes visibly animated.

Named Female Entrepreneur of the Year, I asked her about CV Warehouse and her other entrepreneurial activities.

“Being an entrepreneur involves taking tough decisions which are not always popular. I have no problem speaking up as the tough boss which is how I am viewed on the Belgian TV show I am involved in where I mentor young entrepreneurs. We are going through difficult economic times and the word is changing rapidly.  We see the corporate world being slow to adapt, but it’s important to stay up to date which is why I am so active on LinkedIn. It’s a way of reaching a huge number of people“

I know before asking where Inge’s profile might stand on the issues of women in the workplace!  Business first brigade I wonder?  “Career mom or desperate housewife: the choice is yours and I’m with you as long as you’ve made it deliberate “,  she wrote on International Women’s Day.

I mentioned a training statistic that companies spend 50% less on training women than men in Belgium.

Inge Geerdens: “We have to be careful how stats are analyzed and make sure that they reference individuals in the same level of job with the same time commitments.  As an entrepreneur I would invest equally in any full time employees working in similar roles regardless of their gender.  I’m against women being perceived and thinking of themselves as victims. There is much more they can do for themselves”

3/12: 3Plus Mini-Mentoring Event (Brussels)

So in that case would she support the 3Plus Mini–Mentoring Event  in Brussels on Tuesday 12th March, an initiative from 3Plus to give women easier access to senior women, encouraging them to take charge of their careers and invest in themselves?  Send me the link she said – I’ll think about it. As you’re reading this than I guess she’s OK with it!  Join us!

[photo: IBM Smartcamp, Flickr]

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About the author

Dorothy Dalton

Dorothy Dalton is a global talent management strategist working on both sides of the executive search and research spectrum from ” hire to retire”, identifying and sourcing hard to find candidates worldwide. Using that knowledge of the job search market, Dorothy flips it over to support individuals in creating a job search strategy, as well as other career transition and development coaching. Dorothy is a certified coach and trainer, writer, keynote speaker and workshop leader and facilitator. She is co-founder of 3Plus International, set up to support the advancement of women in the workplace. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.