2020 – It’s the start of a new year, a new decade and for some of us also a few new chapters. I’ve never been a big fan of “blogging” but I do love to write and enjoy telling a good story – bedtime stories for my 2 children mostly these days but I hope to branch out into something more… business-like this year.
As a bit of an introvert – or perhaps “an introverted extrovert” as I was recently described as, I set myself the challenge of blogging in 2020! Which in my world means making public some of my more personal and in some cases controversial thoughts and views. In some ways that translates to being on stage – which for those of you who know me well, know that it is not a space I feel super confident in… another personal goal I’ve set myself for this year.
Most of you might know that for a large part of 2018 and most of 2019, myself and my business partner Katie Howard Cross have been extremely hard at work building on what started out as our “Passion Project” or side-hustle, which very soon grew arms and legs and turned into a real business – Eva Connections.
We are not afraid to challenge the status quo when it comes to networking, community building and mentoring, as these are all things both of us feel extremely passionate about. For me, in particular, the networking and community aspect was something I missed hugely in my last role corporate role. As Global Head of People Operations for IT Consultancy Cloudreach, my main mission was to build our People and Cultural Strategy – ensuring it was scalable and aligned to our company values, all whilst in hyper-growth mode.
I led a team of 40 very talented individuals, spread over 18 locations and more timezones than I could care for in one 24hr day. I also had the privilege to mentor a number of Cloudreachers during my 6 years with the company. However, looking after my own personal development, let alone my health and state of mind, was not something I prioritised. As it turns out, that was a big mistake.
With an extremely demanding day job, and a young family at home, I had very little time to think about myself, my future, my health and my personal development and after 6 years of pushing every boundary my mind, body and soul had, it was time to either move on burn out. Although I wholeheartedly believe in the “putting your own oxygen mask on first” theory, at the time, my natural instinct as a mother and leader is to consider those around me first. Not ideal and certainly some great life lessons to be learnt there.
Two years on, and Eva Connections is an absolute reality but also a way of life for us both. We are career women at heart, we are mothers by nature, we have big dreams and ambitions and love to have fun, keep fit and drink prosecco. So how do we wrap all this up into something that could bring meaning to other professional women, not only in The Netherlands but in all corners of the world? I did say we dream big!
We recently launched our Podcast series, where we interview amazing women from all over the world, doing amazing things in their field. I’ve been interviewed on other peoples podcasts in the past, but that is quite different from running your own show! Neither of us has ever done anything like this before, and it was a rather daunting thought at first, but having interviewed almost 20 women over the last 6 months we love it. Sticking to the theme of doing crazy things for the first time, we also launched our own radio show in the summer of 2019. It is a lunchtime show, we normally have a guest with us, it is super fun, informal and most shows bring their fair share of tech hiccups as I try my hand at DJ’ing and interviewing at the same time.
Whilst collecting and putting together all the blocks needed to build our business we had some key decisions to make – one, in particular, was around memberships and if we should be a “members only” community or a free for all to join the community. Not an easy one to answer. We decided on the members-only model because we wanted our members to feel that they were part of something different and special… and not just another Facebook group.
By joining the community you have access to a range of carefully curated career-related content, monthly masterclasses, workshops, events, a job board, group coaching, 3 different personality profiling tools to pick from, and access to a very unique mentoring programme and e-learning platform. The Eva Knowledge Hub took nearly two years to build and we launched this in January 2020.
Entrepreneurial spirits to one side – with both of us earning our stripes in the corporate world for many, many years, we could not stay away from topics like, the gender pay gap, Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, unconscious bias recruitment, managing a toxic work environment and how to bring to life mentoring within business. For all those reasons and more we created Eva Works – which is our corporate offering. We work with companies on a number of innovative initiatives with the main aim to help them become better-balanced employers of choice.
When you join Eva Connections you join a community of women who share similar values around careers, life, health and wellness and intrinsic drive to continuous professional development.
We are the Workstyle, Lifestyle Community for Professional Women.
If you are like me – trying to make a change for the better, feel free to reach out to me directly, or attend one of our events. Who knows, maybe we can share some learnings and tackle change together.