Inez Berkof-Hollander is the VP of EMEA at MSTS. She spearheads leading MSTS into new geographic markets, developing the product portfolio and launching a state-of-the-art IT portal. We sat down with Inez to chat about her thoughts around women in business today, what she foresees in the future and how she got to where she is now.
MSTS: What are some of the pivotal points that got you where you are in your career?
Inez Berkhof-Hollander: I’d say, maintaining authenticity, integrity, and the eagerness to learn from others and from my mistakes as well as hard work throughout all points of my career. For instance, I like to learn how others deal with road blocks or obstacles while also growing the business, leading teams and individuals. However, I realized while I was copying the fantastic and inspiring behavior of other leaders that I wasn’t effective, and people did not respond in the way I expected. I realized that if I stayed true to myself, ensured my actions came from an honest place and considered the intentions and methods of leaders who I admire but added my own personal flavor, I was much more effective and inspiring.
MSTS: What changes have you seen for women in business in the past 5 years? What do you think we’ll see in the next 5 to 10 years?
Berkhof-Hollander: I think the gender pay gap has definitely become smaller and we see more and more women in business year over year, which I think is essential. Also, it's becoming more acceptable for women to work (nearly) full time and have children. In the next several years, I’m expecting an increase in women taking on important roles and positions within companies whilst balancing careers and family life.
MSTS: What struggles did you face the most as a woman at the start of your career?
Berkhof-Hollander: I think in the beginning, when I wanted to step up and take responsibility but still needed guidance and coaching from more senior leaders, I didn’t feel as if I was taken seriously, which made me feel uncertain. Also, some leaders didn’t think I could manage having a career and a child at the same time, unimaginable.
MSTS: What do you think is the biggest challenge women in business face today?
Berkhof-Hollander: I think the biggest challenge today is that women are not very good advocates of themselves. we underestimate our capabilities, and therefore not be considered for a project or a job.
MSTS: In your opinion, what’s the best way women in business can make a substantial difference?
Berkhof-Hollander: I would say by being authentic and supporting each other. And by taking on a “can do” approach. If you are willing to learn, you can do it.
MSTS: What made you want to get into fintech?
Berkhof-Hollander: FinTech is exciting because it is all about disruption today. Companies want to look at what solution best suits their business rather than go with traditional solutions. Being in the FinTech industry means you can shape the future for other companies to grow and scale, which I think is very exciting!
MSTS: Which women are you inspired by and why?
Berkhof-Hollander: I’m inspired by many women who have stepped up and advocated for women in leadership and women supporting each other to grow. For example, Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, because she was so kind to share her experience, her failures and her successes, which are very recognizable. I’m also inspired by the women in senior leadership positions within MSTS, but I’m equally inspired by men who value diversity in a leadership team and the contribution that women can make in their leadership team!
MSTS: What advice would you give your 15-year old self, knowing what you know today and having the experiences you’ve had?
Berkhof-Hollander: Take ownership, be authentic, self-confident yet humble (I know that this can be seen as contradictory but I think the combination is actually very strong!) and look for inspiring leaders to work with who are willing to coach you whilst you progress your career.
MSTS: How can women help each other to continue advancing in business?
Berkhof-Hollander: By supporting and encouraging each other but please don’t forget the many male leaders who are giving their time to coach women during their career as well! I’ve had a few very good female and male managers that taught me things and gave me confidence whilst growing my career!
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