Broad Horizon 24.03.2022

Aspiring women @ Broad Horizon – Marilou Van Doorn

Marilou Van Doorn | CEO True since June 2021 | Mother of one-year-old son | 34 years | Genuine Trueligan | Plays the drums | Creative | Passionate | Energetic 

Working in tech, was it a conscious choice?
Marilou initially started her career at the Art Academy after which she studied modern art history. Soon thereafter, she made an atypical but conscious choice to pursue her career in the tech industry. The link between these two disciplines is self-explanatory according to Marilou: “Both sectors are highly creative, but I do find there is more energy and innovation to be found in the tech scene.” 

Why True?
The dynamics at True are one of a kind! All employees have a certain energy and drive that is felt throughout the entire company. There is even a term used within the company to describe a typical True employee: A Trueligan! Trueligans are open-minded towards customers and colleagues alike, they are highly committed and will always go that extra mile, and finally, they are mavericks and stimulate a headstrong company culture.

True | Established in 2002 | 90 employees | Average age 36 | 50% women in Management Team | Almost 50% women in Middle Management, but still ambitions to go with the technical team 

As CEO of True, what can you do to attract more women in this industry?
Sometimes small changes can make a huge difference, take for example job vacancies: by changing the wordings and by redefining competencies, vacancies will sound more appealing for women. I also believe in attracting young female trainees from universities and colleges and showing them how appealing and energetic the tech sector can be.

There is still a long way to go, but Marilou is convinced that we need to break the traditional role models and demonstrate counterexamples. Challenge stigmas, crush the negative vibe, and get rid of inherent bias where even women underestimate the power of other women! She is also convinced that the gender pay gap requires an honest and objective open discussion. 

What’s your typical working day routine?
There is no set rule in Marilous’ daily routine, as it all depends on the number of hours of sleep her one-year-old son grants her during the night. Ideally, she starts by doing some sport, then she takes ample time for her son, avoiding stressful situations that can occur during the busy morning schedule. Then, it’s off to the office, where typically she has a lot of meetings. Marilou leaves the office on time, so she can pick up her son from the childcare centre and enjoy dinner together with her husband. Once her son is sound asleep, she opens up her laptop and continues working. The mails that are being processed at night will only arrive in the mailbox of her colleagues the next day, as she does not expect employees to have the same routine as her. 

The European tech industry needs to offer more career opportunities for women in this sector. What is your view on this and how can this be achieved?
Marilou couldn’t agree more with this statement as she strongly believes that diversity enhances creativity! Studies have proven that female leaders have better empathic skills and it is becoming increasingly clear that this management type will be vital for businesses of the future. 

Marilou is not a believer in the pink quota, but she does think the government needs to step up the pace. Starting with narrowing the gender pay gap, making childcare centres affordable, introducing equal childbirth leave for men and women. For her, it’s clear that The Netherlands is still lacking behind on some points. 

But, in the meantime, Marilou takes on her responsibility as she is convinced that as CEO she must do everything within her power to make a difference. She clearly does not want to wait for the government or other instances to open up the debate and start making changes. 

What do you undertake to encourage other women in the tech industry?
According to Marilou this is dual: “Firstly it requires good employment practices within our company, such as ensuring equal pay based on objective profiles and market benchmarks, but also by keeping an open conversation with the organization, first of all to understand their needs and questions, but also to share my conviction.” Marilou also wants to make a difference by seizing more opportunities that will help other women in general, “This can be through publications or speaker opportunities, like for example the ‘Klapstoel Academy’, a platform that connects senior career women to young female professionals with whom they can talk about their ambitions and challenges at work and receive career advice.

Who/ what has had a strong influence on your professional choices?
I have been very lucky to launch my tech career with a startup company in Amsterdam where everyone was equal and where I soon received the chance to grow. It was a tremendous stepping stone and helped me to launch my career. To this day I’m still very grateful to the CEO and colleagues for giving me this opportunity at the beginning of my career. It was my husband who introduced me to the tech industry and who has supported me every step of the way. This should never be underestimated! My parents have never pushed me in traditional role models, and for that, I’m grateful, as it has proven to be an invaluable asset for both my professional and personal choices. When I was 8 years old I started playing drums, not the preferred instrument of my parents, but they supported me in my choice and never questioned it. I now still play the drums with former MBA students in a band called C-Sweet.” 

What are your professional ambitions?
Making True the best place to work at! Being an outstanding employer and maintaining the Trueligan vibe!

And your ambitions on a more personal note?
Keep the right balance by combining good parenting and at the same time enjoying my work at True. I would also love to record a CD with the band C-Sweet sometime in the future.

What’s your favourite quote?
When you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” – “for me, this is an obvious part of setting up a solid organisation as CEO. By really working together as a team, you can achieve great things, but it’s not always the quickest or maybe even the easiest way.