Be a positive role model

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Marieke van Gent is an IT consultant with more than 20 years of experience in the digital industry, where she held a number of different business analysis and implementation project management roles before starting her own consultancy, IT Efficiency Projectbureau.

“Since 2012 I have been an entrepreneur and helped organisations with various IT projects ranging from the total restructuring of their IT landscape, to implementing software or simply selecting a new hardware supplier. All these projects have one thing in common, which is my drive to approach IT projects from the human point of view instead of the technical point of view.” Marieke’s philosophy is to put people first by developing tailor-fit IT solutions to meet her clients’ needs.

Putting people first leads to more efficient implementation

Prior to starting her own company, Marieke worked in the hotel industry. At a time when online booking systems were still deemed “up and coming”, she was tasked with leading the implementation of the Accor Group’s online booking system across the Netherlands: “During that time Accor group consisted of about 55 hotels, so it was quite a big project.”

Driving from one hotel to the next, Marieke and the technical team facilitated the implementation, introduction and training for the new online booking system. “That’s where I discovered I liked the concept of business and IT where the question was how to translate the many wishes and needs within a company into appropriate, future-oriented IT solutions. I try to approach the implementation in a way that causes the least disruption, while also helping the client understand why it’s the best solution and how to use it – in other words, from the people perspective,” she explains.

Marieke’s training and formative experience in the service and hospitality industry ultimately informed her people driven methodology, where she would first consider the employee, the process and the results: “Although this may create more work on the front end, it allows the project to run more efficiently as most of the challenges will have been resolved prior to commencement.” According to Marieke, this not only leads to simpler and more efficient adoption, but also assists in smoother implementation.

Show your strength to make a difference

Being recognised as an equal among her peers has always been one of Marieke’s greatest challenges: “I often found myself having the need to overachieve and put in the extra mile to show that a female IT project manager can add a different ‘taste’ to a project. When I stepped into a room, the guys would often wonder what I was doing there and ask: ‘Wait, are you our IT guy?’ The biggest challenge was that I had to first prove that I had the knowledge and experience to provide solutions to the problems that they had.” Over time Marieke learnt that shifting their focus away from their surprise and towards the project at hand made them come to this realisation much sooner: “The more knowledge and experience I gained, the more self-confident I became, so I stepped back from the discussion of whether women were good enough and focussed on the project. We have to show our strength to make a difference.”  

The value of diversity in an IT team lies particularly close to Marieke’s heart: “While working on all the IT projects that I did over the years, I saw what women can add to an IT team: women bring the soft skills, such as more open and transparent communication, and from the people’s perspective. Women also want to optimise their job and make it more efficient, and they have the ability to really think of the needs of the user, rather than the needs of the technology. And it’s not only about women in particular, but even more about diversity. In my experience, a diverse team is so much more successful than a men-only team.”

Connect with people who help you reach your goals

Marieke firmly believes that a more diverse technology industry will also lead to more success stories, and by advocating for more women in the industry Marieke hopes to contribute to this transformation: “I want to be a positive role model for girls and women who are considering a career in technology and show that even without much theoretical background, they can still make a huge difference in the mainly male dominated field of technology. With more women in the industry, we can create awareness and hopefully encourage more girls and young women to enrol in digital-focused studies.”

And Marieke is of the opinion that having a positive attitude and faith in one’s abilities is how you can achieve success: “Be the girl who gets the corner office! Believe in your strength and knowledge, make the difference and connect with people who can help you reach your goals.”

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