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Focus on Women: Speed networking with senior management


Focus on Women is a bottom-up initiative at Umicore seeking to increase awareness about matters related to female talent and leadership while inspiring female colleagues. The platform recently organized a series of speed networking events on authentic leadership. The last event was an afternoon of networking, learning and focusing on career development in Brussels, where a group of female managers got the opportunity to have one-to-one informal conversations with different senior managers. For the participants it was a unique way to broaden their network, get to know senior managers personally, learn about their own authentic leadership style and get inspired on career possibilities at Umicore. The ten minutes interval conversations also turned into broader topics such as diversity and inclusion, work-life balance and wellbeing.

Among the participants we also had a couple of Young Graduates, colleagues who freshly graduated and started a two-year enriching program in Umicore. Fantine Henry, Business Young Graduate, shared how it helped her understand the organization better: “By talking to new people with different profiles I got a new understanding of how Umicore works, its structure, the variety of different roles within the organization and the different opportunities for career development.  Personally, these kinds of events are of great added value, I get energy from social interaction, and I feel very motivated. I received a lot of advice from everyone on different topics, it didn’t matter who I met I learned something from everyone.” 

Other colleagues who have spent longer years within the company have the advantage of sharing their knowledge on every topic. Bendix De Meulemeester, Director of Marketing and Business Development, believes that the event allowed him to share more than just career advice: “Meeting different kinds of people who are in different stages in their career is always very interesting. They all have different worries and questions. It’s not only about career advice or promotions, it goes beyond that. We talked about what I do in my job, why I made certain decisions in my life, the culture within the organization but I also learned about the others.”

Cristina Bella came well prepared to the event, with some questions in mind but wasn’t sure what to expect: “I loved it, I was pleasantly surprised. Everyone felt very comfortable talking about other topics outside of work related topics like wellbeing. It was a great opportunity to network and reconnect with colleagues who I already knew. I made the most out of the good mix and balance of people because I learned from new colleagues I met and from the colleagues I already knew they gave me more personalized advice." 

Géraldine Nolens, Executive Vice President ESG and General Counsel, thinks that the experience is interesting for both sides and is a learning opportunity that goes both ways: “The speed dating was a really nice event. You meet new people and get insights on what’s going on with younger generations - their perspectives, what drives them, what worries them - and that as a senior manager is extremely important. It helps to remain connected with a generation that is the future of Umicore. The exchanges also highlight and remind us of the importance and the benefits of the diversity and complementarity of our colleagues. Truly no conversation was the same.”