ICT WOMAN OF THE YEAR
General Manager, Elmos
Liesbeth Debruyn has stood at the helm of Elmos, a Belgian ICT consultancy firm with its head office in Mechelen, since November 2010. Her career path is impressive, to say the least. In her first year, she lifted the company revenue to above the symbolic threshold of 10 million euros. Last year, that revenue clocked up an amazing 22 million euros. When she took over in 2010, Elmos had 90 consultants: today there are over 190.
Liesbeth Debruyn uses a pragmatic and result-oriented approach whereby she offers the customers of Elmos a solution for their shortfall in knowledge or manpower. But, most importantly, Elmos is committed to a human approach, a personal methodology and individual support, combined with an open-door management style. It is this investment in people that leads to the corporate success of the company, according to Debruyn.
Liesbeth Debruyn is 55 years old and grew up near Hasselt. She is married and has two sons. She attained her teaching degree in French-History-English, but closed the school doors behind her after only a short teaching spell. Her period at L+T Software under the guidance of Etienne Schreurs (ex-Saga) was where she learned the ropes. She then joined LACO as an account manager, where, in 1993, she became general manager and later moved on to managing director and shareholder.
Muriel De Lathouwer
Managing director & CEO, EVS Broadcast Equipment
Muriel De Lathouwer is passionate about technologies and innovation since a long time. Engineer in nuclear physics (and also holder of an MBA from Insead), she started her career as IT consultant with Accenture, evolving from software development to management of IT projects aiming at bringing competitive advantage through the use of technology. Moving to McKinsey, she had the opportunity, during seven years, to advise major cable and telecom operators, as well as media and high tech companies around the world, on growth strategy and digital transformation.
Most recently, Muriel was the Chief Marketing Officer and a member of the executive committee of the Belgian mobile telecom operator BASE. Some of her major achievements at BASE include the redesign of the product portfolio and the revamping of the communication strategy leading to doubling the acquisition of postpaid contracts.
In the Board of Director of EVS since 2013, and CEO of the company since the end of 2014, Muriel is raising the challenge of the broad and deep transition in the broadcast industry, moving from traditional linear video business models to more flexible standards based on IP technologies. “In parallel, we are building new foundations internally by professionalizing even more our structures and processes, and at the same time, we put all our energy in accelerating innovation to cope with important changes in technologies”. At EVS, 50% of the staff is driven by R&D and innovation. And more and more, IT is at the core of the new development, both hardware and software.
Today, EVS is globally recognized as the technology leader for live video production. The company has approximately 500 employees in total, in its headquarter in Belgium and in the offices in Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and North and Latin America.
Muriel De Lathouwer is also an independent board member at Amoobi, a spin-off from Université Libre de Bruxelles specialized in footpath analysis inside large indoor environments.
Marie del Marmol
Country Manager, Insight Belux
Marie del Marmol (53) has been in charge of the Belgian branch of ICT distributor Insight since 2012, When she took over the reins from Alain Sohet. Like Sohet, Marie del Marmol can boast years of experience with HP, where she made it to sales director of successively the Enterprise segment, the Technology Solution Group and, later, the General Western Europe Technology Services division. Originally a civil engineer, she arrived at HP through the takeover of Compaq, where she also held sales positions. Earlier still, she worked as an account manager at Bull for over eight years.
But today, Marie del Marmol heads the Belgian division of Insight. Insight is an American distributor specialised in ICT hardware and software with leading partners including Microsoft, Symantec, HP, IBM and Cisco. Marie del Marmol predominantly sees chances for Insight to help the CIO in realising the business needs. This, for example, could be providing a seamless integration of all licences and contracts with data in an existing business structure, of course taking the cloud into consideration. This leading lady has been working in the Belgian IT industry since 1989. During her studies, however, the Brussels resident was absolutely sure she would never go into sales or IT. “Luckily I changed my mind”, she now admits. “IT is ahead of other industries. You need to constantly anticipate and respond to new trends if you want to stay at the top, and that's very exciting. If it's tough being a woman in a man's world? When I was younger it was more difficult to gain the trust of my male colleagues. This was particularly true at Bull, which had a real macho business culture. Today, though, being a woman has turned into an advantage. You are able to build a different kind of relationship with customers than men, and you react differently as a woman. This often works to your advantage.”
Vp Medical Devices Business Technology Leader EMEA region, Johnson & Johnson
Claudia Herben works for Johnson & Johnson Medical Belgium. While her official position is based in Belgium, the accountability of her role covers the entire EMEA region. Johnson & Johnson Medical is part of the Johnson & Johnson group which consists of approximately 128,000 employees in more than 250 operating companies around the world.
Prior to joining J&J, Claudia held several IT positions in different companies, including Deloitte, EDS and Groep Boerenbond. In 2003, Claudia started her career at Johnson & Johnson as the NCS EMEA Regional Security Manager, and took on roles with increasing responsibility over the years. In 2012 Claudia was promoted to Vice President Infrastructure Services where she engaged with IT and Business Leadership in the EMEA Region. In addition she led the Global Service Desk and End-User Operations and led global Programs like Customer Centricity, Continuous Improvement and Communication.
Since January 2016 Claudia is vp, Medical Devices Business Technology Leader – EMEA Region. She defines the technology strategy for business partners, manages business expectations and is accountable for all aspects of delivery in EMEA. She has a team of 8 people who report directly into her. In total her organization consists out of 30 people.
Leadership for Claudia means leading by example. To quote her: “True leaders are authentic leaders, leaders who are into every moment, who connect with the people around them. True leadership requires courage and ‘courage’ means ‘with the heart’ ”.
Claudia’s mission is to show how IT can be an enabler for the business and how IT should be at the table in conversations involving patient health care and medical devices. She’s a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion and is an active leader in different programs at J&J including the Women’s Leadership Initiative.
Managing Director of Onepoint Belgium
Sandrine Lipartiti can count on more than 20 years’ experience in IT: the vast majority of them with Vision IT, where she began her career back in 2003. For six years she was Consultancy Branch Manager with the Vision IT Group, heading a team of 45 professionals. In 2008, Sandrine was given the responsibility for the operational functioning of the commercial teams in Belgium and Luxembourg, whereby she also played a part in setting out the strategic lines. It was already written in the stars that Sandrine would take her career to new heights, which she eventually did in 2013. The company, based in the Walloon town of Lasne, was renamed Vision Consulting Group and Sandrine took on the role of Managing Director Belux.
“It wasn’t an easy ride. The competition was strong. I had to work 12 hours a day, as if it was my own company. Not easy for a woman to be recognized by the customer and especially in the company. But after 13 years it still remains a daily pleasure”, says Lipartiti.
In early 2015, French company Groupe OnePoint acquired a majority stake in Vision IT, which is when the OnePoint name came about in Belgium. Sandrine was also closely involved in those merger plans. In just 15 years, the French group expanded into an leading IT specialist in digital transformation with in total more than 2,000 employees.
Sandrine Lipartiti is managing director of Onepoint Belgium, as well as partner in the local Onepoint Brussels Wallonia division. The staff know her as being an incredibly passionate driving force; first in Waver, then in Lasne and now in Brussels. Above the linguistic border, in Flanders, the group also has a branch in Zele.
“It's always a challenge for a woman to run a business, even in the 21st century. She may be recognized as a commercial talent, but admitting that she is a formidable entrepreneur is something else!”, according to Sandrine Lipartiti, married and mother of two teenagers: “People expect more from a woman in the enterprise. You need to be more convincing, more tenacious and dynamic than men.”
YOUNG ICT LADY OF THE YEAR
For Segolene Martin (1982), life is without borders in a Europe of boundless industry. Graduating with a master degree in European Public Politics at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Strasbourg, she launched herself in a career with a decidedly European character. A first high point was at ERRIN (the European regions research & Innovation Network), as both a policy officer (interfacing between European institutions and regional authorities, businesses, research) and coordinator of the ERRIN ICT Working Group (resulting in increased collaboration between ICT clusters on R&D projects). At the Committee of the Regions, she set up the ‘Automotive’ intergroup, bringing together more than 50 authorities from 12 European countries, regarding the future of the automotive and the transport industries. This she followed with a stint at the European Standards organisations CEN and CENELEC, in the fields of business development, marketing and digital transformation projects.
In 2014 Segolene Martin turned yet towards the start-up world, as co-founder of Meetsies, a collaborative economy tool enabling to make new friends around meals at home, again with a decidedly cross border aspect (including users in Sankt Peterburg, Russia). Since 2015, as managing partner of Kantify, she aims at transforming data into value for retailers, through the application of Artificial Intelligence – a start-up company with multiple awards already. Still, Segolene Martin sees no limits, planning on growing her company in Belgium and beyond, as well as continuing to learn – ‘finalizing my MBA in my free time!’.
The Colruyt Group always has an eye for exceptional people, and with Laura Monten (1990), it got a true industrious centipede. Before (and while) studying business economics at the KULeuven, Laura Monten already worked as a caregiver at a nursing home, as an administrative officer at a bailiff’s office (including the introduction of a new filing system and optimizing the workflow) and at a shop as a sales associate – often concurrently! While at the KULeuven, she tutored in mathematics, economics and English, as well as co-organized activities at the Ekonomika student association. Clearly, a person that knows how to get on with it (did we mention she also was a playground animator and an active member of Natuurpunt, a nature conservation organization?).
And at the Colruyt Group, Laura Monten really gets on with it as a business process engineer at the Business Processes and Systems department. There she displays a multi-role capability as project manager, functional analyst and even application manager in two complementary projects: Integrality, Back-up & Failover. Integrality (track & trace) is a combination of technology (cameras for barcode scanning) and procedures to ensure that personalized prints are produced and sent only once. For the Integrality project, Laura Monten also tackles a back-up and failover system. Furthermore, Laura Monten participates in the operational support of the internal ERP-system, manages her team’s Workspace on SharePoint, and as a process engineer is continuously on the lookout for workflow optimization.
Yet, this workload does not extinguish her drive for growing in leadership capabilities, and bringing more women into what is still ‘a man’s business and ict world’. As Young ICT Lady, this would be a major objective, as well as extending education opportunities to women even beyond our borders!
Moving from Romania to Belgium in order to pursue a career opportunity characterizes Adriana Petrescu (1981). She goes for it! Graduating in Human Geography at the Universitatea ‘Alexandru Ioan Cuza’ din lasi (top of her class), she started out as a ‘Human Resources’ (HR) generalist, later moving to the IT-side of HR as a HR (Certified Solution) Consultant for SAP ERP (in addition to certifications for several SAP SuccesFactors modules). Joining Accenture in 2011, after stints at Ness Technologies, The Red Point and Emeritis (the 2010 opportunity), she continued combining her IT expertise and HR business skills in cross-border HR process projects (e.g. today as an EU Global Process Lead for a global product company, deploying Global HR processes in 22 countries).
Adriana Petrescu is deeply convinced that ‘women belong in the IT world and that diversity makes a team stronger’. She shares her expertise with colleagues and offers support within Accenture’s global network, having joined the Expert Career Track in 2016. Through Accenture’s Corporate Citizenship program, she also volunteers as mentor at Connect2Work, the Antwerp based foundation helping highly skilled migrants to integrate in the Belgian labour market (finding positions matching their training, expertise and ambitions). And certainly, she wants to reach out to young women at recruiting events and through social media, to persuade them to go for an IT career. Of particular interest is that Adriana Petrescu successfully combines such a career with being the mother of a three-year-old son, still having time to ‘cut his drawings and sticking them on the furniture’ and ‘giving him a hand with his puzzles’.
Valerie Taerwe (1988) is a persistent young lady, to put it mildly, as this is the second time she makes it to the ‘Top 10’! A second appearance she earned by continuing a career that has been diverse since graduating as a Master of Science, computer science engineering – software engineering (Ghent University, 2012). Indeed, a career she started as ‘one of the very first official student-entrepreneurs’ in this department, by co-founding G-Flux – a mobile and web application company that’s still going strong, and by co-founding CenEka, a student organisation facilitating visits of students to electro technical and computer companies, to get a better feel of their future careers.
Starting at AE nv as a consultant (business, functional) with stints at Securex, Jan De Nul and Bpost - ‘learning to prioritise,’ and how to mix methodology and pragmatism – and instigator of internal Hackathon and ‘accelerator’ projects, she switched to another Deparco group company, c-Quilibrium. As a business development manager, she focuses on the challenging Italian and Greek markets with software for the (physical) cash supply chain of banks.
Matching her technical solution insight with business problems solving capabilities, she wants ‘to be a coach, rather than a manager’. Long term dreams? Yes, going for a MBA (Vlerick) and – back to the roots? – ‘still dreaming of a product start up’. However, these dreams are balanced by personal targets, as ‘building a house’ and ‘starting a family’. And being a STEM/STEAM/Tech ambassador!
Nele Van Beveren
Though graduating ‘magna cum laude’ as Master in Computer Science, Nele Van Beveren (1983) decided ‘to first gain business knowledge’. This she did as Analyst Market Data at the KBC department of Middle Office (for the dealing room), and much more. Not only did she create scripts guaranteed to produce timely and high quality data, she became a product owner, working very close together with IT. A way of collaboration she became passionate about, ‘working in short cycles, resulting in value early in the project, efficiently, in a fun way’. Combined with excellent coaching skills, a transfer to IT as Agile coach was obvious, with corresponding results. Nele Van Beveren succeeds not only in coaching teams in the use of agile methodologies (Scrum, Kanban), but forging cross-border teams (Belgium, Spain) into a real ‘one team’. She instils an agile mindset with understanding of the benefits of such a methodology (rather than as an obligatory approach), facilitating the required changes in the supporting organisation. Indeed, these are the characteristics of a true coach.
It is the ambition of Nele Van Beveren to expand this spirit of agility and flexibility throughout the company, inspiring people on this topic. Not only did she build a broad intra-company network (thanks to social media), she also started reading groups at KBC, for deeper understanding of books as e.g. ‘The Phoenix Project’ and ‘Re-inventing organisations’ (the latter involving her in a strategic council of KBC IT). Four times a year she co-organises a ‘Facilitation Game lab’ (with different companies participating). Nele Van Beveren extends this teaching and evangelisation streak outside KBC as a CoderDojo coach, as ‘I love to inspire and guide the girls and boys during their own little experiments’.