LEAD Network Netherlands Chapter Event – 20th June 2018
Hosted by Ahold Delhaize, Zaandam, the Netherlands 


LEAD Network Netherlands Chapter, by Kasia Van’t Schip-Giska.
iew the official event photo album here 


After months of preparation and brainstorming, June 20th finally came! The highly anticipated day of the inaugural LEAD Network Netherlands Chapter Event, with a full house has made history for the LEAD Network, for the Netherlands and for the LEAD Network Netherlands Chapter!

Julia Jelińska with Ahold Delhaize, Chair of the LEAD Network Netherlands Chapter, welcomed the participants with open arms, together with her dedicated Committee Members: Lidija Tisljar, Client Business Partner, Nielsen and Marjan de Bock–Smit, Founder and Owner, SIM Supply Chain Information Management bv. Even though the Netherlands Chapter Committee is small, they have proven once more that LEAD Network Members can make a difference by Doing not Trying. Full of aspiration and ambition, this 4-person Committee pulled off an impressive program with an introduction by the influential keynote speaker and LEAD Network Advisory Board member, Hanneke Faber, President Europe for Unilever.

The conference was sold out and 150 women and men leaders representing consumer goods and retail industry in The Netherlands and all over Europe filled the event venue at the Zaandam headquarters of the host and sponsor of the meeting – Ahold Delhaize – one of the Foundation Partners of the LEAD Network. After the registration and networking, Julia Jelińska, Chair of the LEAD Network Netherlands Chapter, Manager Compliance Product Integrity, Ahold Delhaize opened the event with an inspiring and energizing speech focusing on engaging the guests, learning about their expectations and on building the community starting with getting to know each other. The welcome address was delivered by the LEAD Network Ambassador at Ahold Delhaize, Subarna Malakar, VP Diversity and Inclusion at Ahold Delhaize. Abbe Luersman, Chief HR Officer at Ahold Delhaize, welcomed the Participants in her video message. Then Sharon Jeske, Executive Director of the LEAD Network thanked the Partner Companies and the Members of the LEAD Network for their commitment to the mission of LEAD Network and for making steps in advancing diversity and inclusion together and described what the LEAD Network has accomplished over the years. Sharon pointed out that the LEAD Network, its Chapters and their events exist thanks to the dedicated and committed volunteers, as the LEAD Network is “for the Members, by the Members”. 

That was a perfect introduction to the passionate presentation led by Julia Jelinska who invited us to meet the Members of the Netherlands Chapter Committee and to highlight their journey over the past months since they kicked off their work in December 2017. We also learned about the strategy and approach of the Chapter. The Guests were encouraged to volunteer and contribute in order build a strong Netherlands Chapter of the LEAD Network together. Julia announced that by the time of the conference, the Netherlands Chapter grew to 500 Members from 317 at the beginning of the year. With 2700 Members at the whole LEAD Network, the Netherlands Chapter now represents  nearly 20% and it has a great potential and power to make a difference!

Julia’s remarkable speech was followed by Mick Broekhof, Co-founder of the LEAD Network and Secretary of the Executive Committee, Managing Partner of Kalypso Europe B.V who talked about his experience and who said a few heartfelt and moving words of enthusiasm and empowerment about the purpose of the LEAD Network. Mick shared his excitement about the formation and opportunities that are ahead of the long-awaited Netherlands Chapter in his home country.

What took place next was the symbolic ribbon cutting ceremony with Mick and Sharon holding the ribbon and Julia, Lidija and Marjan cutting the ribbon marking this historic moment!

Hanneke Faber, President Europe, Unilever & LEAD Network Advisory Board member followed with an inspirational and engaging keynote address, unveiling the innovative approach at Unilever to conquer bias and to use technology and data while at it. Hanneke talked about the diversity and inclusion journey that Unilever has been on and acknowledging the opportunities that are there for the future. The audience was captivated by Hanneke’s charisma and the stories she had to tell. We ran out of time during the Q&A session but participants took their questions to the informal part of the event.They discussed them with Hanneke and each other while enjoying the snacks and drinks at the networking session.

To build on such an inspiring and challenging presentation, we moved to the panel discussion on “Doing – Not Trying, Using data in Advancing Diversity & Inclusion” moderated by the Netherlands Chapter’s own Lidija Tisljar and Marjan de Bock-Smit. The panel was composed of insightful and strong business leaders and LEAD Network Members: Jan-Willem Dockheer, General Manager of AH to go, Katrien van Laere, VP Research & Innovation at Danone Nutricia Research, Lisette Nap, VP Global Ocean Business Development at Schenker AG and Pedro Lima, Managing Director at NIELSEN Benelux & Alpine.

Together with the audience, the panel engaged in an energizing and revealing discussion about Using Data in Advancing Diversity & Inclusion. The Panelists shared their personal stories and talked about the challenges and solutions at their organizations. “Staying impatient”, “getting ready for a tsunami” and “spreading like a virus” got a new – positive – meaning and sparked a lot of conversations during the networking cocktail.

Before moving to the beautiful atrium of the Ahold Delhaize office to raise a glass to the beginning of the journey of the Netherlands Chapter, Julia Jelinska asked the Participants for their feedback on the event. We could immediately see on the screen that the meeting meant a lot to the guests with the “inspiring” and “insightful” and “power” being top three words describing the experience. Participants also recognized that their time was well invested by joining the conference. Throughout the event Julia engaged the audience in sharing the opinion and ideas openly and in a very transparent and interactive way. The feedback from the guests will be used by the Netherlands Chapter Committee to learn from this experience and to shape its strategy, program and events in the future. Julia closed the conference by thanking all the speakers and volunteers with the gift funded by Gall&Gall and gathering everyone for a group photo to capture the energy in the room! You can see the photo album by the official photographer of the event, Kasia Van’t Schip-Giska, as above.

The event concluded with networking drinks long into the very bright evening of the longest day of the year. The speakers and the audience could further engage on the topic of the keynote address and of the panel discussion, exchanging ideas and opinions. The Participants took this opportunity to get to know each other, to talk about their interests, vision and ambitions, to take pictures and make great memories. Everyone left with a gift bag filled with goodies from Etos, a book – “Wisdom Warriors” – by Carol Seymour, and, most importantly, with a lot of inspiration, energy and a will to keep on Doing! Not Trying!

This was certainly an unforgettable event! New bonds were made, other – strengthened. The thirst for knowledge, contact and action was satisfied and it was made clear that there is a need for more. The Committee of the LEAD Network Netherlands Chapter will continue to work on bringing the value to the LEAD Network Members! Let us just say it already: This how the LEAD Network is Doing it, not Trying!

 Julia Jelińska

Chair of the Netherlands Chapter of the LEAD Network