Pledge 1%’s #WomenWhoLead series celebrates female leaders who are paving the way for the next generation. While our featured leaders come from a variety of backgrounds and industries, they are united in their efforts to promote equality for all women in the workplace. We’ve asked them to share a bit about their journey to success, as well as lessons they’ve learned along the way.

What is your name and title?

Renée van Poppel, Senior Consultant and Strategic Advisor at Supply Value.

Briefly (1-2 sentences) describe your current role.

My role is twofold. First, I work at large (Government) organizations as a strategic consultant focused on IT and organizational change. Second, I am the strategic advisor of Supply Value, meaning that I investigate possibilities and start initiatives that focus on reaching our long term goals. For this, my horizon is at t+12 months to t+4 years.

How did you get here? Please share any quick stories from past work experiences.

Straight out of university, I started at Supply Value as a procurement trainee and from there, grew along with the company. In five years, we grew from 6 to around 45 employees, so there were many opportunities to learn and grow. I was able to support this growth at Supply Value with challenging assignments at interesting organizations, which led me to join the management team of Supply Value in January 2020.

In your opinion, what’s the #1 decision or move you’ve made that has helped advance your career?

Forcing myself to reflect on my growth and taking control of my next career steps. I discovered that I am driven by creating value for society, so I’m motivated by stakeholder value rather than shareholder value. My decisions since then have centered on these values: value for society and professional growth. That corresponds with how I view decisions; I don’t think I make a lot of big decisions at all. For me, it’s more about having values on which you can base many small decisions. Additionally, I try to explore and substantiate my alternatives by talking about them with people I trust. Their point of view and their reflections mean a lot because it enables me to broaden my scope of thinking.

What’s the number one challenge you face as a woman in your industry?

I am very happy to work in an organization that is very welcoming and open to everyone. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Discrimination has no place in society and we should all work to diminish this. For me, at some organizations, I have experienced ageism. As a young senior consultant with a name that is also often used for men, I experience that I really have to prove myself before being taken seriously. I always strive for my next assignment to be challenging, this often means that I haven’t done it before. The reflex is usually to value experience (in years) over eagerness and the ability to learn and grow quickly. The fact that someone does not have 20+ years of experience in a field does not mean that someone isn’t able to do the job well.

Do you have any mentors? What does mentorship mean to you?

Not explicitly, but I have a number of people who I look to for advice or with who I like to discuss ideas or thoughts. This interaction brings ideas to a higher level and generates new insights. To me, this interaction is key in personal and professional growth; always broaden your view.

What advice do you have for women who are just starting their career?

Contact professionals in positions you find interesting and request to have a (virtual) cup of coffee. Usually, people are very willing to tell about their work and help you. Ask questions and keep in touch after.

When looking for a job, also look at the type of organization you want to work for. Find an organization that connects to your values and supports you in your growth and ambitions.

Are you reading/listening to anything interesting at the moment? Please share your most recent favorite book or podcast!

I loved “The Ride of a Lifetime” by Robert Iger (CEO of Walt Disney). I’m currently reading “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. I’m not one for listening to many podcasts but prefer conversing and discussing ideas with colleagues and other professionals. Neither is better or worse, find what works for you!

What’s been the one (or two!) things that have helped you navigate this past year? Any tips or tricks to dealing with remote work?

Last year was challenging (to say the least). For me, there were two things that I kept telling myself.
1. This too shall pass. Everything always changes. Good times pass, but so do times of struggle.
2. In a month or three, when I look back at this period, I will think about how much this period has taught me.

Other than that; make time to talk to colleagues about non-work-related things and prioritize mental health. Sounds easy enough but we all know it takes time and effort too.