Throughout her entire career, Jolien Brouwer has been revolving around the financial sector – whether she was directly in it or working with it. From Corporate Finance to recruiting for finance companies and finally in investment management, she fell in love with the financial industry and never left it.

“What I really like about this sector is that everything that happens in the world has to do with what we do. And the other way around. Finance is interconnected with everything happening around us.”

She started her career in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis – against all odds, she got her first job in Corporate Finance at Lindenaar & Co, after applying to over 40 open positions (Fun fact: she was the first woman working at Lindenaar & Co. 🙌).

But you know what they say: “You get the first job, and you find the second job.

Her choice for Corporate Finance wasn’t a very intentional decision. At that time and in those circumstances, she accepted the job offer because it was very difficult to find one in the first place. Looking back, she now thinks that Corporate Finance was a great starting point for her career, and is a great starting point in general.

 But she just wasn’t cut out for it. And it took this experience for her to realize she needed to do something else. That’s how she found her second job at Michael Page where she was recruiting for commercial roles in finance. This eventually led to working in investment management with a focus on ETFs, for VanEck and currently, for Invesco.

Luck, hard work, and talent – the recipe for success?

The red thread here seems to be Jolien’s belief that luck is a big part of succeeding in your career, but it’s also a lot about making your own luck. 

“I’m a true believer in being able to influence what happens around you. Being lucky is an important part of getting somewhere. But it’s also making your own luck and really getting yourself out there. Things don’t happen to you. You have to say that you want something or put it out there that you’re looking for something, or demand something. It doesn’t just come to you.

People will then know that that’s something that you will want in the future, even though you’re not there yet. They’ll keep you in the back of their minds once there’s something out there that could be an opportunity for you.”

Now, let’s rewind a little bit. You might wonder: how the heck did Jolien manage to land a job during the worst recession since the Great Depression?

Looking for a job?

How do you land a job during challenging economic times?

Simply put, “it wasn’t easy”. Tapping into the idea that you make your own luck, you need persistence and energy. You need to dare to speak, and also know what to expect. 

Jolien had the persistence to get up and go to yet another job interview, to sit there “being perky and happy” after so many rejections. When interviewing for Lindenaar & Co., she was prepared and knew what to expect – which really helped her make a good impression. In the end, she got asked why she is not doing an internship, to which she had a very straightforward answer: “Because I need a job and I need to pay my bills”. And Paul Lindenaar appreciated that.

Other career challenges and how to deal with them

1. When you’re convinced something is right for you, but it turns out it’s not.

“Working in corporate finance and not being good at it or it not being a good fit for me felt like a failure. It felt like everything I had worked for for years was in vain.

Everyone kept telling me that Corporate Finance and Private Equity will be my thing. And that whole vision crumbled because I was not cut out for it. So that was tough. It smacked me over the head.” 

Jolien got over this challenge with the help of a career coach who helped her orient herself towards things that she truly wanted to do and that she was a better fit for.

2. Learning about something you don’t know much about

“Another challenge was learning about ETFs when I started at VanEck, without actually knowing anything about them. And that’s still a challenge. I am very happy to acknowledge that I don’t know certain things. 

Don’t be afraid of asking for feedback and receiving feedback. People are making an effort of make you better at something. Also, you should ask how something went and if someone says you could have done it better, accept it! They are probably trying to help you, even if it’s not nice to hear.”

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