“To see an opportunity, we must be open to all thoughts.”
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, women in manufacturing have faced an unprecedented set of challenges. From struggling to balance family and professional responsibilities, to dealing with its effects on their physical and mental health, they struggled to deal with the pandemic’s impact.
However, with these challenges, comes room for opportunities. In the New Normal, women have taken on newer roles at workplaces, while getting the opportunity to upskill. Professionally, they have achieved breakthroughs to learn new things and expand their horizons. Furthermore, with organizations increasingly striving to be more flexible to their needs, they now have the chance to explore newer avenues to be better leaders of tomorrow.
With this backdrop, let’s now take a look at the journey of Vanessa Frederic, Office Manager, Data Protection Officer (DPO), ELGi Europe (Belgium), who seized every opportunity that came her way to grow better, be better and #InspireTheFuture.
Why did you choose to become a Data Protection Officer (DPO)?
No two days are ever the same and every single day is a new adventure. I get to work with a variety of people, both internally and externally: I never know who I'll be in touch with next.
What’s even more exciting is to face challenges and problems every single day, sometimes every single minute! I'm learning constantly, whether I'm learning straight from my boss, learning from collaborating with other colleagues, or simply learning by solving problems and tackling projects
What do you think helped you get so far in your career?
When I started working, I think I lacked self-confidence. This is why, I always tell others this: don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it. Believe in yourself, you can achieve anything!
What values by ELGi have stayed with you since you first joined?
I think sensitivity has resonated with me the most.
How would you like to reflect on your career trajectory so far?
By taking on more responsibilities, my role has expanded at ELGi Europe. I'm very thankful to have a boss who appreciates and values his employees. I’m also grateful for the opportunities that help me be and become better. By taking part in trainings, I get to sharpen my skills and be better.
What have been your key learnings at ELGi?
By developing sensitivity and knowledge of other cultures, ELGi improves its relationships with customers and employees constantly. As a result, we improve our business processes, sales and the quality of the products and services we offer.
What’s the first thing you bought with your own money?
It was my apartment! It gave me a sense of freedom, in a way.
How have you handled multiple responsibilities with ease?
To tackle multiple roles, it’s important to use task lists and keep note of deadlines.
Along with that, your business knowledge is crucial. If you get to know the business, you will be much more aware of what to prioritize and what is essential. Being able to differentiate the urgent from the important is essential for effective time management!
What has been your biggest success during the lockdown phase?
I obtained the certificate proving that I know all the requirements of EU GDPR. This certifies that I'm fully competent in performing the role of Data Protection Officer.
Based on your experience, what advice would you give to young women considering a career in your field?
I’d tell them to be open to learning, say yes to attending conferences, training and seminars, and listen to what others have to say. The more you open your mind to new knowledge and information, the more you’ll be able to grow and progress!
What does the International Women’s Day slogan, #ChoosetoChallenge mean for you in your work life?
International Women’s Day is an opportunity to call on our organization to not only celebrate women one day a year, but also to use the day to trigger change in the year ahead.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit women in business particularly hard. We must be very aware of the challenges that our female employees are dealing with right now. This means offering more flexibility, time off and patience.
In view of the #ChooseToChallenge theme, what advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to grab every opportunity to learn, particularly taking on more responsibilities!
I’d tell her, “You may not get the financial recognition immediately but when applying for the next promotion, you will have plenty of experience and demonstrate your ability to work at the next level with confidence.”
What’s your favourite thing about being a woman?
Women have such a huge capacity to love and care for others and I think that’s truly amazing: we can understand what the other is feeling and thinking without saying a word.
Which woman or women inspire you and why? Could you share a quote by them that inspires you the most?
Over the years, Audrey Hepburn has been my biggest inspiration. Despite all the problems in her personal life, she was always sincere and had a warm heart!
For me, her favourite quote has to be “I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day, and I believe in miracles."
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
I’d really like to learn a new language!
What is the message you want to send to young women thinking about a career in the manufacturing industry?
I think young women in manufacturing should be knowledgeable about all aspects of the business, and must constantly keep learning and listening!