Follow the energy

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Follow the energy

Anique Smeets is the Deloitte ambassador for RightBrains and Industry Development Manager focusing on telecom, technology, and media clients. Her passion for digital technology began in the 1990s while she was working in her parents’ automation company. Already in the early days of the business, Anique learned how much she enjoys sharing skills and giving training, and later, after graduating her studies in business economics, she began training others in software as her first career step at Deloitte Consulting. “I really liked working with software packages, mainly because I really enjoyed explaining to others how to work with those technologies, and explaining how to get the most out of them from a business perspective.”

Getting back in the saddle

After a period of time supporting clients with CRM solution implementations (in business as well as technical roles), receiving training in the UK and bringing this knowledge (ahead of the curve with E.piphany software) back to the Netherlands, Anique took maternity leave three times after giving birth to her daughters. Having worked in the same organisation for 22 years, she has seen things improve over time, but back then it was not an easy task to return from such a break. “It was hard to come back each time from maternity leave to a male-dominated world at Deloitte. Back then, there weren’t many women in the CRM implementation side of things, and I was the only one of typical child-bearing age. So for my managers, it was the first time someone in their team became a mother. There were no Happy Mom programmes or things like this set up, so it was difficult to get back into the saddle after maternity leave. I even stopped getting CRM projects at one point.”

Soon, though, Anique was asked to become project manager for an internal CRM project at Deloitte, and things turned a corner. “I was so energised by that project, and the people in the commercial department recognised that, so they asked if I would like to permanently step into their department at Deloitte. From that point, I was back on track. I was so energised, I was happy, and with a team of marketing consultants we got our tooling up to speed, and I managed the deployment of a global CRM system here in the Netherlands.”

Finding the energy

Anique has since believed in the philosophy of following that which gives you energy. She herself finds energy from succeeding in helping other people and other teams work in new ways, recalling her passion for training. “Wow, it’s so great when you can see results, when you can see how eager and happy people are to start using a system you’ve worked on, when you can see the effect of the work you’ve done.” Acknowledging that you’ve accomplished effective work, and sharing its positive results with others, helps spread this energy and motivation. Anique also explains that sometimes it’s not easy to know exactly what it is that energises you. Her suggestion? Trial and error: “You have to find out by starting to do something that you think might be a fit, and over time you’ll know whether it is or not. If you get frustrated, or bored, or it doesn’t give you energy, then you need to move on and look for what does bring energy and passion into your work.”

Learning from others

One thing that has brought excitement to Anique’s work is the RightBrains Digital Leadership Programme. She has made many valuable networking connections, and has learned practical, day-to-day lessons that she can take back to her own working environment. But Anique specified that the real bonus of the programme has been increasing her awareness of the conversations surrounding the field of digital transformation in general, to keep up to date with developments and trends. “One of the most inspiring days was when we learned about diversity and inclusion within a team, so for example making sure to have a good gender mix, people from different backgrounds, and a variety of personalities. But it was also about the unconscious bias that we are all still carrying with us, and how much that actually affects how effectively we can work together. That was an eye-opener for me, and something I didn’t have so clearly on my radar before the programme.”

She also learned that digital strategy is very much driven by the history of a company, and that you must take history into account when making steps towards the future. A balance between old and new, for example, is crucial: “There might be a fresh team working on rolling out a new digital solution, but with my 22 years of company experience I can also add a lot of value to that team; I can explain how Deloitte works, and work out how we can best position solutions within our organisation. That’s another takeaway from the programme for me, to help others to think in a different way about our own challenges at work. With different perspectives, we can all learn a lot from each other.”

Partnerships work both ways

The partnership with RightBrains is mutually beneficial. “It’s great for our practitioners, to be able to take the opportunities to grow themselves, to network, to absorb information, to be both a mentor and mentee, but it’s also good for RightBrains. We can support people in getting involved in the platform, in joining the programmes, and in being part of the community. We can position our networks alongside each other, make strong connections, and inspire and support the women in both organisations.”
Partnerships that focus on diversity and inclusion are important for positioning the working environment favourably among new applicants and young talent. Anique believes that, “as a company, you really need to align with the values of the current generation. They are very much into purpose, more interested in diversity. They need to know that they can be themselves in the workplace. If you can support that as a company, prove you are working in that way, see things from a human angle, that’s very important. We are working on that in our recruitment teams, but also in our marketing and client project delivery; how people digest information is changing, so we need to adapt to new ways of information consumption. Which technologies do you then use? We try to be innovative in that.”

Success stories? Spread them

Whether it’s accomplishment in recruitment, implementation, training, or marketing, Anique believes in the oil ripple effect; “we need to create success stories, and spread the word about them. If a campaign becomes a success, then share that broadly with everyone, with stakeholders, don’t keep it in your circle. Ensure colleagues serving other industries are acquainted with your accomplishments, so they can become energised to do it for themselves too. It’s the oil ripple effect!”

Join Anique during our live Spring Event on 14 April!