As part of our Role Model Campaign, centred around International Women’s Day 2023, we met role models from different organisations in the Netherlands. In this article, we interview Nadine Herrwerth, CEO of TWTG, to learn more about her experiences as a woman getting to the top of the industry.
Originally from Germany, after spending much of her working life in London, Nadine has now lived in the Netherlands for six years. She would call herself an international person who loves working in a global field – to the point where living somewhere new has become second nature for her. She is married to a British man, and together they have a 10-year-old daughter, making them a genuinely European family. Nadine studied social psychology alongside business and English culture at university. The broad understanding and situational awareness of a Master’s degree in Labour Studies allowed her the option to begin her career in several different sectors; ultimately, Nadine chose business as her preferred path.
While coaches and mentors had consistently told Nadine that she needed a firm career plan, Nadine felt this approach didn’t suit her. Increasingly during the early stages of her career, Nadine was keen to explore the opportunities that came her way.
If asked now, she would advise others, “Rather than rigidly stick to a path, people need to recognise the opportunities that appear before them and decide whether they are willing to grab them or are prepared to let them go by.” Living by this mantra, Nadine has never avoided stepping out of her comfort zone, doing new things, taking jobs that didn’t exist before, and making them her own. To her, being agile-minded and prepared to take equal amounts of risk and opportunity is far more essential than identifying a particular job title you want to achieve in the next decade.
Understanding your own Abilities
By circumstance, Nadine has always worked in male-dominated environments. As a 26-year-old leaving university, she initially found this quite intimidating and explains, “at first, it’s tough as a young woman. Surrounded by seemingly confident and knowledgeable people, you can quickly feel like you know nothing – That you’re an imposter.”
To counter this, her advice to younger women is to define their area of expertise, establish themselves in one particular field, and then grow this area to include more and more elements. Nadine explains, “As your experience grows, so will your knowledge and expertise, it will gradually increase your confidence.”
Navigating the business world
Whether you’re a woman trying to navigate a male-dominated environment, or any other individual with a different background or culture, it’s essential to feel that you fit in. As Nadine’s career has evolved over the years, she has moved from a role in a traditional business to the CEO of a tech company. So accordingly, today, whether it’s a board of top-level executives or a room full of techies, Nadine still often finds herself in meetings predominantly filled with men.
Early in her career, the stereotypes seemed to reinforce themselves. Nadine felt she often got looks that said, “what does she know?” and sometimes people could even imply that she should get coffee. “In the early days, I certainly suffered from occasional doubts in my ability – I had bouts of Imposter Syndrome. At times, I had to remind myself of the value that I’m bringing. Nowadays, things are different – while I am happy to occasionally make the coffee, I leave people in little doubt this is my meeting”.
Nadine points out that most men she has encountered in her career have been outstanding professionals, whom she was able to learn from. To Nadine, this is crucial, “It’s about mentoring – bringing young people along, particularly women, and providing guidance on how to manoeuvre corporate roles. It is essential to give insight into the industry. It needn’t be so daunting”.
Historically, with men predominately occupying senior positions in corporates, certain leadership styles have generally become accepted as the norm. It can be true to say that some men in the top jobs can be brash and dominant. Nadine believes authenticity is essential and refuses to bend to people who tell you how you should behave.
“If I’m not the expert, I’m the first to say it. I have no problem accepting that someone knows more than me about particular subjects. I want to foster differences of opinion and allow them to be viewed – even if they are not popular. It’s not about ego: it’s about making the right decisions based on the best advice. Male or female.”
CEO of TWTG
TWTG has grown to more than 30 employees. The blend of nationality, background, and experience is essential to Nadine. “There’s a lot of smart people here. What is exciting is that we are all pulling toward same direction.”
The company benefits from a flat hierarchy, ensuring opinions are valued. For Nadine, no one day is the same as the next, which many scale-ups can relate to. It is this variety of responsibilities that come from working with a business that is carving out its own place in the industry, that makes it exciting and remains interesting. “For me, I couldn’t imagine a better role. I’m committed to the success of TWTG and cherish the opportunity to be part of our growth journey as we take a slice of the market by storm.”
Nadine genuinely enjoys what she does and relishes meeting people at the office on Monday morning to kick-start the week. Outside work, Nadine tries to maintain a healthy work-life balance, spending quality time with her friends and family and, when she needs time to reboot, taking a run outside with her dog.
Daring to be Different
While there are many people Nadine looks up to, she does not have a singular role model. But by identifying various aspects of different people she admires – men and women – she consciously introduces these small elements into her day-to-day behaviour.
While there’s a definite benefit in emulating others, being yourself is the most vital ingredient in success. “You can gather all these little pieces from other people to try to hone your attitude, approach, and style, but at the end of the day, you have to put your own jigsaw together to find who is that authentic you. That is not a particular point in time, and it’s often a long and challenging journey.”
Want to read more stories? Visit this page for an overview of all our Role Models from the Role Model Campaign 2023.