Our greatest asset at Emark is our team. In this series of blogs, we’re celebrating some of the amazing women carving out a career in the traditionally male-dominated tech industry.
Today we’d like to introduce Catelijne Heydendael, our fearless Senior Project Manager who works tirelessly to keep her team and customers happy.
Helping vulnerable people manage challenging conditions.
Catelijne began her career as an occupational therapist specialising in managing chronic pain, and spent the next eight years in a female-centric environment that couldn’t be more different from the tech sector. “Working with vulnerable people taught me a lot about empathy and how to really listen to people and understand their needs,” explains Catelijne. “But healthcare isn’t just about the patient, it’s a business too, and I wanted to know more about what was happening behind the scenes.”
When Catelijne was growing up, her mother taught her to be self-sufficient and never to compromise her independence. Faced with limited career progression in healthcare, she followed her passion and retrained in commercial economics in 2005.
Despite her lack of B2B work experience, her ability to connect with people helped her land her first project manager role. “My manager didn’t care that I had no clue about technology beyond how to order something online, he recognised that the missing piece for many project managers is knowing how to balance being friendly and approachable with getting the job done,” recalls Catelijne.
Finding a path to greater opportunities.
The move from healthcare to business also gave Catelijne the flexibility to start a family, and today she balances work with coaching her daughter’s hockey team and helping her children practice the piano and guitar every night. “In healthcare you can leave work behind when you go home. Although it’s harder to switch off when the computer is sitting on my desk at home and there are deadlines to meet, there are actually better opportunities for women to carve out a career in this ‘man’s world’,” Catelijne commented.
And Catelijne has made quite an impression on the world of technology. Working with a more diverse group of people helped her build strong teams who get results, while fostering a supportive environment and making time for fun. For example, bored of the standard daily stand-ups, she organised Cribs-inspired virtual home tours to spice up the week and have insight in the teams’ new workspace during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In fact, it’s working with a great team of people at Emark that motivates Catelijne when she starts work every day. “I love working at Emark, it’s a great place to develop new skills and they really respect our work-life balance,” she adds. “I actually started here after a few of my former colleagues jumped ship to Emark and told me great things. I had to play the long game until there was a senior position available for me, but it was worth the wait.”
Knowing your strengths.
Catelijne’s unusual route to the technology sector has given her a unique perspective and valuable blend of skills. “Nothing is ever black or white, it’s important to be flexible but I’m also very direct so I can manage expectations,” she explains. “I’m here for the team, and I’m strict – with a smile!”
And it’s a powerful combination. Catelijne inspires her colleagues with the skills and confidence to be self-sufficient and successful in their own careers. “It’s important to be yourself and play to your strengths. If you’re a girl thinking of starting out in tech go for it, but I don’t believe women should be chosen just to tick the box. The best candidate should get the job, be it man or woman. It would be great to see more women in positions of power, but they need to be the right people. Diversity is about fighting for the skilled women who are overlooked; empty gestures won’t further the cause,” she concludes.