Personal Biography: A dual life
The main thing is to let the main thing be the main thing.
At heart, I am a lover of life, friends and society. From there, I want more love, more friendship, more eating, drinking and cooking, more travelling, more endless conversations and more time for social sciences and art. I believe that our search for happiness is all that matters in this life, and I also believe this search has many faces. One of them is understanding ourselves and the world around us, and this journey remains an endless source of astonishment. This questioning, possibly together with my being gay and my feeling equally French and Dutch, has allowed me to develop a very profound sense of duality: purpose and perspective, truth and relativity. From there, I have created the space to listen and show genuine interest in what people are and how they develop: ”there’s nowt so queer as folk”.
I was raised as the last kid in a family of 6 siblings: four sisters and one brother. Born in the Netherlands, I was 6 when my parents moved to France, where I grew up and attended school and university. My father died about 20 years ago. My mother is still in France with my brother and sisters. I am the only one having made my way back to the Netherlands, more by chance than by design. Our family has been a turbulent nest to grow and experiment into, and it has anchored in me the values of dependency and trust, of solidarity and humour in the face of adversity. And certainly, our father has taught us the art of arguing and given us the passion for the human adventure. From my mother, I have learnt how strength of character and belief in one’s values can drive one’s everyday life, however daunting the circumstances may be. And she has been for me the first and maybe strongest incarnation of unconditional love and infinite tenderness. This all has allowed me to have an optimistic take at life, without unrealistic expectations, but also without excessive cynicism. I have passion for what I undertake and find pleasure in building argumentation around new propositions. A measured risk taker, I thrive in leading people through creative change processes.
The French education system is strong in literature and philosophy, domains that seduced me immediately. I studied philosophy at the university of Lyon III, a study that I finished much later at the UvA in Amsterdam with two different masters. Besides, I studied economy with a specialized Masters in Banking and Finance (DESS at the University of Lyon II). I lived long enough in France and the Netherlands to speak both languages perfectly, as well as English, my working language. I have some understanding of Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. This dual education of economy and philosophy allowed me to have equal pleasure in being a practitioner, engaging in complex financial transactions, and a policy maker and change manager, finding the right concepts to develop a governance and adjust continuously processes to a changing environment. And I had my first taste of expatriation as I performed an internship at the Credit Lyonnais in Rotterdam during my studies. I have successfully passed the Executive Coaching Masters at Ashridge (UK).
After a traineeship and a first posting at Société Générale, I joined ING in Paris as a Corporate Account Manager. After 2 years, I moved to the Headquarters in Amsterdam where I pursued a career in Risk Management for the next 25 years. At work, I have been alternating transactional positions where I was supporting the commercial activities with policy, change and management functions. Shuttling between these two activities (one more into doing, the other into reflecting and supporting) has allowed me to always stay in touch with the imperatives of the commercial activities, while developing the skills of a governance, change and people manager and being equally happy and effective in both worlds. I have specialized over the years in credit risk, particularly in the wholesale banking segment, but I have been also exposed to retail credit and to ALCO Management and Non-Financial Risk. I have two expatriate experiences in Brussels-Belgium as Regional Head of Credit for Continental Western Europe where I supervised ING’s wholesale portfolios in France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, the Nordic countries, and in Milan-Italy where I took the function of Chief Risk Officer (“CRO”) covering both credit, market and non-financial risk for both retail and wholesale activities. My strengths across the different functions has always been to set out a vision, and then lead teams into change processes from the research side all the way towards the implementation of the changes into the actual processes. These processes require a balanced theory and practice view, high motivation and tenacity coupled with a good dosis of empathy and understanding of corporate processes and change management. Please find more about my professional career on LinkedIn.
I have lost my husband in 2013, much too early for him and for me, and much unexpectedly. The 18 years we shared together were full of his endless energy and unlimited generosity, his appetite for life in all its aspects. Resilience, a supportive family and good friends have since put me back in the saddle. I cherish family and friends even more than before: they take precedence over anything else. With them, I spend a lot of time understanding what happens around us, small things and big, in my street, my city, my country, the world. I increasingly cherish the smaller things in life, and am more conscious of the blessings of good health and unabated love for life. I have roots in Amsterdam and in France and I love this duality that is so profoundly a part of me.