How Nickée Used Networking To Move Up The Corporate Ladder
CCG Spotlight: Nickée de Goeij
Studied: International Business & Languages (BA of Commerce)
Career title: Sales & Marketing Executive EMEA
In 2014, Nickée de Goeij said goodbye to her friends and family in the Netherlands and took the bold step to start her career in the UK. Now as a Sales & Marketing executive and an all-time career girl working her way up to the corporate ladder, Nickée shares with us some of her secrets on how to build a great corporate network, how to be confident at work and what it truly means to step out of your comfort zone.
Q: TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU STARTED YOUR CAREER AS A SALES & MARKETING EXECUTIVE. WHAT DOES IT ENTAIL AND WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MAJOR RESPONSIBILITIES?
A: I started working at this company as an intern in 2014, then was lucky enough to be offered a role as a Communications Executive during my internship. This is my second ‘official’ role in the business, although working for a different business unit as before. I’ve always thought that 1,5-2 years in a role means it’s time for a change. Hence, the reason why I started looking for another internal position after two years. Thanks to my network within the company I was recommended and then asked to apply for this role, which I’ve now been doing since September ’16.
It’s a role heavily influenced by the business unit. I report to the Commercial team. Currently, some of my responsibilities entail getting our sales team fully engaged with our CRM tool and improving our processes through automation of workflows. Also, building one contract template for our EMEA business, and creating marketing campaigns for demand generation.
Q: WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE A CAREER ABROAD? AND WHAT INSPIRED OR TRIGGERED YOU TO TAKE THIS COURAGEOUS STEP?
A: Studying International Business & Languages really changed me as a person – going to Spain for half a year to study abroad even more so. There’s nothing quite like stepping into unfamiliar territory where you don’t speak the language or don’t know anyone. When you can barely find your own street in your new city. You learn to be independent. As a result, you get to know yourself so much better than before and grow as a person.
I fell in love with that feeling. So when I was 4 months into my internship in the UK and they offered me a job, I decided to take the plunge. Don’t get me wrong, I spent long sleepless nights twisting and turning trying to make up my mind. However, in the end, the one thing that helped me decide was that one thought; ‘what if I don’t do it? What if I never get this chance again?’ And so I took it. I’ve never regretted it.
Q: As an ambitious career girl, working your way up to the corporate ladder, what are some of the career challenges you have experienced so far?
A: It took me a while to believe in my own skills from a business perspective. I think the main reason behind this was my age. Coming into our European headquarters, I’ve always been surrounded by a lot of managers and directors. I quite often heard myself say ‘I’m the youngest one here, but…’ when I wanted to share my opinion. My previous manager told me to stop doing that, as I was underselling myself. That was my main challenge.
Other obstacles that spring to mind are the international environment (you’d be surprised how few people know how to use modern technology for communication!), and learning how to ‘manage your manager’.
In your opinion, what are some of the main skills every career girl should have in order to thrive in career and at work?
A: I believe excellent communication is key, in any shape or form. It will help you grow your network quickly and increases your visibility within your business’ environment. Talk to everyone, whether it is the CEO or an intern. It’s not about not being shy (I freak out every time I bump into our VP when I’m getting a coffee), it’s about not showing that awkwardness and just having a conversation.
I’ve found that if you’re ready to help people out whenever you can, they will return the favour. Whether you redirect them to the right person, quickly help them out with something that is not actually part of your job, or go above and beyond on a task, they will remember, and when you will need them (for a task, or for career help/advice), they will make time for you.
Another one I’d definitely recommend is to expand your business acumen as soon as you can. The more you know about the (wider) business, the better your strategic overview is, which you will always benefit from (when talking to that CEO, for example!).
Oh, and make sure you’re able to learn on the fly. You’ll be doing a lot of tasks that have nothing to do with your job title, or the classes you studied at uni. The broader your skillset, the more valuable you become.
Q: What advice would you give to young aspiring girls who are still a bit unsure about their career path? (For example, some might be questioning whether they should take the step to move abroad just like you did. And some might not be happy in their current job situation).
A: If you’re not sure about going abroad, think long and hard about why you’re uncertain. Is it the fear of the unknown? If so, I’d like to quote you a sentence of one of my all-time favourite poems: ‘What if I fall? Oh, but darling, what if you fly?’ (Eric Hanson). Just give it a go. If it’s not for you, you can always go back.
If you’re wondering whether you’ve chosen the right career path/job, there’s no clear answer. I always believed that marketing was my one true passion. And that was the case, for two years or so. With my current role I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of projects that were well outside my comfort zone, and they’ve made me realise that marketing is not at all where my true passion lies. Therefore – learn what you can, from whichever job you’re in. And don’t say no if a new project makes you uncomfortable or you’re not sure you’d be the right person for it. You might discover your career path is very different from what you’d imagined, but every step along the way will have helped you get there.