‘Women have different capabilities from an empathy perspective’

A personal conversation with Anke den Ouden, Managing Director of Microsoft The Netherlands

At Techionista Academy, it’s our mission to empower women through Technology. One way of doing that, is by sharing the personal conversations we had with female leaders in the tech industry who inspire us. And hey: you can read those stories, but you can also listen to them in The Techionista Podcast! In this episode: the story of Anke den Ouden, Managing Director of Microsoft The Netherlands.

It was a sunny day in Amsterdam, when Techionista’s Vivianne Bendermacher sat down with Anke den Ouden, for a personal conversation about her career in technology. Becoming Managing Director of Microsoft was not a girl’s dream for Anke. In fact, in her childhood, she dreamed of a career as a pilot. “I wanted to fly the world,” she laughed. But at the time, glasses (she still wore those back in the days) were not accepted for pilots and she would have been the first woman pilot in the Netherlands. Instead, she studied sports and later decided to switch her focus to business, ultimately leading her to her current role at Microsoft.

Women should stay true to themselves

During the interview, Anke discussed the importance of diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. She emphasized the need for women to be themselves and not try to be like men in order to succeed. “I think women can be so much more believing in their confidence, in their skills, what they have, because we have very different capabilities than men have. Especially in today’s world with all the change happening. Disruption, women actually are better at that. Because women have different capabilities from an empathy perspective. Women can listen better. Women can organize and solve better. Women can orchestrate better. So all of these things actually come in very handy in today’s roles, to actually do a better job.”

The importance of mentorship

Reflecting on her own journey, Anke shared that she too has made mistakes along the way, but emphasized the importance of learning from those mistakes and moving forward. She also advised women to seek mentors and sponsors to help guide them in their careers. She herself had a wonderful mentor in finance. She sought to become more analytical in her approach to work but found herself getting overwhelmed and losing focus. Anke: “My mentor actually said at some point ‘Hey, lean back. Try to fly a helicopter above it and look at what you’re doing and then make step by step the decision on how you want to get out of there. Don’t blame yourself, but actually, look at the opportunity and how you can improve it.'” This advice has proven to be valuable not just in her career, but also in her personal life, as it taught her the importance of taking a measured and strategic approach to problem-solving.

Make mistakes and learn

Anke’s career journey serves as a testament to the value of perseverance and the importance of never giving up on your dreams. Despite facing obstacles and setbacks, she remained true to herself and ultimately achieved her goals. She hopes to inspire other women to do the same.

Overall, Anke’s message to women in tech is to be true to themselves, embrace their unique strengths, and not be afraid to speak up and pursue their goals. “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because that’s the only way you learn,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to speak up, because that’s the only way you’ll be heard.” Anke’s advice and experiences serve as an inspiration for women looking to make their mark in the tech industry.

Want to listen to the entire interview with Anke? Find the episode below. Or go to Spotify, or your own favorite podcast app for all episodes of The Techionista Podcast.