Thursday, July 9, 2020
Marguerite Soeteman-Reijnen describes herself as a lifelong learner. As a business and law graduate, she started her career at the international financial services company, Aon. And throughout her 30-year career at Aon in various roles, she has never stopped learning.
“Learning is part of my DNA. Aon gave me the opportunities to continue adding to my skill set. I’ve always been interested in understanding the motivation of people, why they think the way they do, and why do they say what they say. I love learning from others.”
A close second to her is travelling.
“I enjoy meeting new people and learning about fresh perspectives of life and business. In a global company, it is vital to understand different opinions and needs. It is about building bridges. And also growing your company.”
For her, there is immense value in being at one company over three decades. Marguerite explains that if there is a match, and value creation for both parties, why not? She believes it allows you to grow with a trusted brand and make a lasting mark.
“I always had a goal on the horizon, and I knew what I wanted to achieve. At my first performance review, I stated that I wanted to reach the top. The men in the meeting were quite flabbergasted that I was so outspoken. But I was determined. Trust in yourself, and if that means you want to stay at a company or move to another company, do it. There are many roads to take. Nobody should hold you back on your journey.”
And Marguerite is at the top now. As the chair of the Aon Holdings Board and Global Marketing Officer, she aims to ensure that they meet their growth and diversity goals. At Topvrouwen.nl she highlights outstanding senior female executives across the Netherlands.
“I always felt as though I had to get the right degree or diploma so people would take me seriously. And I’m very thankful for the opportunities I had to study because it got me where I am now. But, I want other women to have a less difficult journey to the top or at least a fair journey.”
Marguerite will be the keynote speaker at RightBrains’ Digital Talent and Leadership awards in October. She says she hopes to inspire other women climbing the career ladder.
“You have to set goals, and it should be realistic but also ambitious. Make it measurable if you can. Find out how your current environment can help you, and vice versa. And try, if you fail or take the wrong path, get back to your journey. Be prepared to settle for less, be happy with what you achieve and don’t dwell on your mistakes. Take time for yourself and take care of yourself. What you do should be sustainable, for you and society.”
“I think the most important lesson I’ve learned, and what I would tell my younger self, is don’t worry too much about what other people think. You’ll never be able to satisfy everybody, and at this point in my life, I realised I don’t want to either. A lot of women feel as though they should do everything perfectly, but that is not possible. Take the criticism and continue with your journey. Be resilient. And always be curious.”
She circles back to being a lifelong learner.
“There’s so much happening with digitalisation and technology. My advice is to take a hard look at what you bring to the table; the pros and the cons. Make sure you have the right tools for the next step in your career and the future. The RightBrains career and mentorship platform and education programmes are such tools.”
RightBrains’ Digital Talent and Leadership awards will take place on 28 October 2020. Nominations are now open.