Wendy Daems | HR Program Manager Broad Horizon Group since September 2021 | Blended all-boys family of 5 | 47 years | Instigator | Achiever | Empathic | To the point
Wendy studied law at Maastricht University and started her career as a legal consultant. After 9 years in this branch, she decided it was time for a change, and continued her professional career as HR specialist. “My motivation has always been to help and inspire people, and in many respects, these two career choices do not differ that much. It all starts with my intrinsic interest in people. There where you solve problems and inform people of their rights and obligations as a legal consultant, the function of HR Manager requires that extra layer as it involves all aspects of employee engagement”.
As HR professional Wendy finds it important to be able to make the constant switch between being empathic and being instrumental. “It’s giving people water and allowing them to flourish and grow in their careers”, says Wendy. This is a skill she has acquired over the years and is the result of years of expertise in taking time to listen and motivate people.
In her current job as HR Program Manager for the Broad Horizon Group, Wendy has the invigorating task to streamline HR-related topics across all businesses that are now part of the Broad Horizon Family. It includes projects such as harmonizing working conditions, onboarding, performance, and engagement tools. “It’s a strategic role that brings new and exciting challenges, such as the rollout of our international compatibility”.
Wendy has always been fascinated by the tech sector, at the age of 16 she worked as a student in the technical faults department at KPN Telecom, where she was the only girl in a male-dominated environment. After her graduation in Dutch Law, one of her first jobs was for an international cargo airline company, where she gained a great deal of experience, and learned to stand her ground. “I’m glad to see a growing number of women in influential positions within our company, but it’s just a start, and it would be great to see more women embracing the technical functions”. She continues: “Tech functions have always had a tendency to attract men, this has a lot to do with the fact that schools, parents, and the public at large associate this with being male-oriented, while I’m convinced women have a lot to contribute to this field of expertise. We should set more examples and offer platforms where women can see the diverse and captivating side of technology. I attended a Microsoft event recently where I heard of the term ‘Techionista’, an expression that was introduced by the founders of the Techionista Academy, which wants to empower women through technology. It’s a great term, and I will certainly be referring to it in the future”.
When talking about stigmas in the workplace, Wendy starts by saying: “It is regrettable to see that certain stigmas are still around in this day and age”. Wendy is convinced that in The Netherlands there is still a lot of work that needs to be done regarding this topic. “We need to break the traditional role models! This will take time and ask effort from all of us as it is not a question of men versus women. Instead, we need to find the correct balance and the right mix of male and female characteristics for various functions in the company.” She continues: “By demonstrating the versatility of career opportunities and the professional journey one can experience when working in tech we hope to attract more women to work in this fascinating sector”.
“At Broad Horizon we want to create an environment where everyone feels welcome and we do this by incorporating diversity and inclusion into our strategy. Also, the gender pay gap has received a high priority on the Board’s agenda and will allow us to attract motivated and high-quality female employees to our company”.
Who has had a strong influence on your professional choices?
“I have been very lucky to always have received unconditional support from people around me. I’m convinced that life is what you make of it and that you create your own opportunities in life, but I do realize that my professional path would have been bumpier without my family and partner cheering from the sidelines. I have always taken calculated risks, and sometimes things did not go according to plan, but in other instances, these risks helped me to move forward in my career”.
Take care of yourself and those around you
When asking Wendy what her personal ambitions are, she does not tend to look at this in the long term, as for her at this stage in life, it’s vital to keep all the balls in the air. Combing a challenging job with a busy household, making time for friends and family, and keeping track of her personal health. “One of my life’s little luxuries must therefore be my personal trainer, without her I would not find the enduring motivation to always start working out”.
What’s your favourite quote?
‘Life is a great big canvas; throw all the paint you can at it!’ – Danny Keane. Wendy explains: “Life is what you make of it. There is no right or wrong way to create your personal work of art. Paint your own story and enjoy the journey on the way”!