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#WomensMonth: 'Stand up, shout and be heard' - Lyndy van den Barselaar, ManpowerGroup SA

Skilled business leader and managing director of the ManpowerGroup SA, Lyndy van den Barselaar oversees the financial direction of the employment organisation, of which she has been a board member for 10 years. She is passionate about the power of communication and its ability to unleash the best in people, as she firmly believes that an organisation can only succeed when its people succeed.
Lyndy van den Barselaar
Lyndy van den Barselaar

As part of our Women's Month series, we chat to Van den Barselaar, managing director at ManpowerGroup SA, about what it takes to be an empowered woman running the show, and encouraging others to empower themselves.

Tell us a little bit more about yourself...

Lyndy van den Barselaar: I am a single mother of two grown daughters who have always been the driver behind my desire to succeed to take care of them. While they were growing up, I had to sacrifice a lot in terms of balancing time with them and work responsibilities, and I hope that I have been a good example for my girls, teaching them that you can be whoever you want to be, just by believing in yourself.

I have been in the workforce recruitment industry for 25 years and with an educational background in finance, I never thought about being a managing director. However, when the opportunity presented itself, I was determined to make a success of it. I have a fear of failure which I believe prevents me from becoming complacent and I push myself to be the best version of myself. I also strive to encourage all those around me to be the very best they can be and succeed in achieving their goals and in doing so, I hope that I have a positive impact in their lives. We are in the business of making a difference in the lives of our clients and candidates, and it is my role to ensure that I make a difference in my team and all those close to me.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a female MD and how did you overcome them?

Van den Barselaar: The recruitment and workforce industry has predominantly been a female dominated environment and throughout my career I have worked with several female MDs. As a result, I believe I have been fortunate to not have experienced challenges in my journey to MD due to my gender. I have also been fortunate that our various clients have treated me fairly and I have never felt disadvantaged in being a female MD.

What do you believe women bring to the workplace that you feel men perhaps don’t?

Van den Barselaar: Women pay greater attention to detail. It has been my experience over the years (and this is a general comment and I do acknowledge that not all men are the same), that while male colleagues may have many ideas for the business they are in, when it comes to implementation and “seeing it through”, the female counterpart would be the one making it happen.

In our industry, which as mentioned before is predominantly female, I believe women bring a more caring and nurturing element to the business and are better able to understand how individuals are feeling at a particular time.

A combination of both males and females in any organisation has its merits as the strengths and weaknesses of men and women complement one another.

What can women do to positively stand out among male applicants in the job market?

Van den Barselaar: Believe in yourself and step up to the table. Be brave enough to put yourself “out there”. The fact that we are women does not mean that we don’t have what it takes to do the same job as our male counterparts. Be proud of your achievements and make sure that your strengths and achievements are apparent and reflect on your CV. Be bold and talk about your achievements, not in an arrogant way, but if you don’t state who you are and what you do very clearly, you may not be noticed. Stand up, shout and be heard.

If you could change one thing in the corporate world to assist women become the most successful version of themselves, what would it be?

Van den Barselaar: I think the corporate world has already come a long way in terms of noticing women, what they have and the impact they can make on the bottom line. As mentioned above, women need to believe in themselves and their capabilities and show the corporate world what they are truly capable of. Why can a woman not have a career and be a mother and a wife? If the corporate world can embrace the fact that women are multi-faceted, this will encourage women to be who they truly are.

If you could have dinner with any three women – dead or alive – who would they be and why?

Van den Barselaar: My grandmother who has been gone for several years. She had a huge impact on my life, just because of the person she was. She was a very simple woman with very little education and what made her special was that 30 years after her death, we still talk about her. She was truly a woman who showed that your success is not measured by what you achieve but by who you are and the imprint you leave on those around you. She believed in me in everything I did and to share an evening with her would be amazing as I know she would have so many good things to say about my journey. As a woman, we need to be reassured that we have done well.

Sheryl Sandburg, American business executive – this lady is one to aspire to and I loved reading her book Lean In. Sheryl suffered so much personal adversity and despite that, continued to be an amazing mother and female executive. I would love to listen to her tell her story and glean what she did to survive and succeed.

Oprah Winfrey – what an amazing woman to have dinner with, author, actress, TV show host and producer and entrepreneur – I would love to gain an understanding of what has and continues to drive her in all aspects of her life. I would love to hear the “one” secret that has driven her success and given her the confidence to achieve it.

What is your message to young women this Women’s Month?

Van den Barselaar: This month and every month, believe in who you are and never be afraid to step up and towards any opportunity that may come your way. You are good enough and capable of doing everything you want to but only you can make it happen. Don’t be afraid to try and fail, as every failure offers an opportunity to learn and grow.

In addition, continue to upskill yourself wherever possible as today it is all about life-long learning. I started studying for my CIMA qualification at the age of 42 where many of my co-students were half my age and we all qualified together.

I recently read this quote on Facebook, and it resonated with me:

A mistake that makes you humble is better than an achievement that makes you arrogant.

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