Choose a career with purpose

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Florien de Nijs has over 20 years’ experience in facilitating a change in mindsets. With experience in the banking, telecommunications and consultancy sectors, to name a few, she can speak with authority on how important diversity is.

“Diversity should not be a tick-the-box exercise; there has to be a genuine culture change. And strong leadership is a key element in changing culture. The HR department should not be the owner of this change; we facilitate it and ensure it is consistent.”

De Nijs, the chief HR officer at the financial and business software giant Exact, admits that this is not always easy. As the custodian for change, she explains, you have the responsibility to ensure that the organisation functions in line with what they set out to achieve.

“Consistency. If your employees hear the same message from their manager and read the same message in policy documents, and see the implementation, then it is real. That is how you facilitate true change.”

“A potential employee looks at a company’s culture to make their decision. People want to work for a company with clear core values and purpose, which aligns with their own. It is not just about the salary anymore. So it is in your own company’s best interest to drive this change.”

De Nijs pours her passion into the Exact Foundation founded in 2019. The Foundation supports programmes and NGO’s that embrace diversity and inclusion to create the next generation of software engineers and technologists.

“We are looking at the decision-making phases in your life. So in one project, we focus on primary school children by facilitating robotic classes. In another, we help students and graduates to develop their ideas into viable start-ups. Ultimately, we want to encourage children to opt for IT related studies and to increase the number of women in these careers.”

Through the partnership between RightBrains and the Exact Foundation, she hopes to give women in the digital field the push they need to succeed. The goal is to create a strong community which grows with each idea and initiative.

“When I was younger, there were role models who supported me and gave me that last push to climb the ladder. I know the feeling of being overwhelmed and being unsure of the next step and wondering if I should take it. I’m now in that position to be a role model for someone else and help them.”

Her advice to other women is to choose a career with purpose.

“Inner fulfilment is the best driver for a successful career. Be who you are and do what you believe will give you purpose. To only go to work because it is a job, isn’t beneficial for you or the company.”

“And if you struggle with personal responsibilities, talk to your manager or someone at HR. I know of many women who have halted their career growth, where they should have rather just asked for alternatives. There are always solutions. And as a senior employee, you have the responsibility to create a safe space for employees to share their challenges and help them!”