Marcolien busts myths about IT

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Marcolien de Haan is Vice President IT of Avery Dennison LGM and IHM for about a month now. Before that, she was CIO (Chief Information Officer) of Perfetti Van Melle, making her responsible for all IT. And while Vice President IT of a large company may sound like a dream job, this power woman with a high level of positive energy has by no means reached her limit.

What is IT?

Many people think it is my job to fix their broken iPhones or computers, but it is so much more than that. In IT, we always try to find out which processes in the business can be automated. Also, we are no longer a separate department: we have really found our footing in the company.

We work together with basically everyone: from people in finance to supply chain. They all benefit from IT’s helping hand, because at the end of the day, we provide them with more time and we provide the overall business with more efficiency.

How did you end up in IT?

I stumbled into it and I simply never left. As a child, I wanted to become an international business woman. I have never thought of myself as very smart—though my mother disagrees—but I do think that I have always had a great sense of persistence.

After finishing my master of business administration (MBA), I was ready to conquer the world. I have always remained positive and open-minded and that has brought me to where I am now.

What should women do to acquire more influential positions in IT, such as yourself?

Women should believe more in their capabilities, and, more importantly, express that belief more. Women also need to support each other and tell each other that it is okay to be proud of themselves.

Don’t think that just because you are not a programmer you can’t have a career in IT. It is so much more diverse than that; there is a huge focus on relationship management. You have to communicate with everyone in the company, both interns and management.

Companies need to stop compartmentalizing people, because that is what kills enthusiasm.

I understand that it might be hard for companies to find capable women, because their succession pools consist mostly of men. It just means companies have to challenge themselves more to find that female IT star.

Have you reached your limit yet?

No, definitely not! It is always okay to be proud of where you are now, but it is also important to keep an eye out for future possibilities, career-wise.

I think it is important that, if I leave a position, my knowledge has left a mark on the people that work with me, so that they are capable of taking over my job.

That way, everyone is able to grow and develop themselves professionally. To me, it is not about how successful you are, but how successful your team is, because that is what reflects your work.