How do you discover what makes you ‘tick’? When your work brings you excitement and joy, and when you feel like everything is falling into place? We explored this journey with Lies Oudemans, a young, ambitious woman who not only works full-time but also launched a platform about index fund investing (ETFs) for young people in the Netherlands (@investeren.met.lies). She shared her best career advice with you!
Who’s Lies Oudemans?
“Currently, I’m working with VanEck as a Senior Project Manager. Next to that, I am building my own platform to help young people start with a very simple way of investing. Before this, I worked for ABN AMRO, where I was part of the team that launched Tikkie, in its early stages when it was growing immensely in popularity.”
When Lies graduated with her Master’s in Financial Management, she never thought she would work for a bank. And fast-forwarding to a few years later, she did indeed realise she did not really want to work in banking anymore. After doing some career advice sessions and being encouraged by her female role models, she had a turning point towards investing.
“I was actually already investing myself for a couple of years. I also really wanted to learn more about investing. So this is when I decided to start my own company, a platform to help other young people start investing. At the same time, I joined VanEck, a fund manager and ETF provider. “
The journey towards discovering what makes her ‘tick’ wasn’t easy. But after confronting the obstacles she was faced with in her professional discovery journey, she finally found THE thing for her: investing. Let’s dive into how she did it!
Getting that first job
At the beginning of your career, you need to expect the unexpected. No matter how well you have it planned out, no matter your expectations, it rarely goes exactly the way you want it to go.
“After graduating, I wanted to do a traineeship, because I heard that it’s an excellent way to start your career and get an overview of a company. At that time, I really wanted to work for Heineken. I just got back from an internship with them in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. I thought my chances were high to get a job with them, after doing an internship for 6 months.
To my great surprise, I got rejected at Heineken. This felt like a big setback, all my hopes had gone out to landing this traineeship. I decided not to sit back and do nothing, so I applied to a couple of other companies and got an offer from ABN AMRO, which I accepted. “
“It turned out for the better”
Even though Lies cannot say for sure that this was the best choice for her, she is happy that things turned out the way they did.
“I’m really happy about the way everything turned out. And I’m saying this because, in my first year as a trainee, I already met my current manager, the CEO of VanEck Europe. I went to an event where I saw him on stage and I really liked his story and I was eager to learn more about investing in index funds (ETFs). So, I walked up to him and said that I enjoyed his presentation and wanted to start with investing as well. I later contacted him on LinkedIn where he sent me his book suggestions to start investing.
From there, I made the first steps toward investing. A few years later, we spoke on LinkedIn again. I told him about my idea to start a platform for young people to teach them about index investing. We met up for coffee and he mentioned that he was looking for a project manager at VanEck! And the rest is history.
That’s why I believe that if one door closes somewhere, another door will open. I think where I am now is better than where I would have been if I got accepted at Heineken. I’m happy with how everything turned out.”
Figuring out what you want is tough, but worth it
Even Oprah Winfrey said it. During an interview, she was asked what the number one thing is that all the successful people she has spoken with have in common. She replied that successful people figure out what they are good at and what they truly want to do.
The moment they know that, and commit to it, things are being set in motion. You meet people that help you reach your goal and things start to go smoother.
Lies experienced the same, and this is the most important career advice she would give. For her, the turning point was when she decided she didn’t want to work in banking anymore, and instead, she wanted to go into investing. From there, it’s been a much smoother process for her.
Confront the obstacle
“It took me a while to figure out what it was that I wanted. This was one of the greatest obstacles I had to confront at the start of my career. But I am happy that I did confront this because I know that the more you advance in life and career, the less flexible you become to make a change for the better.”
When it comes to her advice to other young women, it’s highly related to confronting the obstacle and committing to what they feel makes them happy.
“Something I would suggest to other people at the beginning of their careers is to take a step back and think about what job would make them happy. Don’t prioritize the salary or the status of your job in the first few years of your career. I, for example, didn’t grow in salary at a certain point, because I switched jobs. For me it was more important to feel happy again, not dreading Monday mornings.”
Find someone who champions for you
Another important aspect that can help you identify what truly makes you happy and fulfilled is surrounding yourself with people who are your promoters, and who champion for you. These are the people who inspire and encourage you in your career, pushing you to reach your full potential.
“At several different stages in my career, I had female promoters. During my traineeship, I worked with a woman that was a little further in her career. In her final review, I got feedback from her that I might be missing something that makes me tick. It was thanks to her that I started searching for something that did make me tick.
And there are many more examples! It makes me feel grateful that I had women around me to empower and support me. I hope to give this back to other women my age or younger than me. Let’s keep supporting each other and encourage one another to grow.”