Leaders stories

Ivy Vanderheyden, Marketing Director at SAS


I learned that giving young people the opportunity in an early stage to be able to experience a full day in the work life of a person in a leadership position gives them the ability to experience if what they aspire in their future career is in sync with reality.

Cemre didn’t have a good view of how to combine her love for marketing with her interest in mathematics, and by experiencing a full day of meetings at SAS she could see firsthand how analytics drives decisions taken in a marketing department. Moreover, the interaction with Cemre also gave me the opportunity to look at things from a different perspective. Her questions triggered a fresh insight in some things that one considers routine.

Mentoring and really being part of the daily routine gives young people direct insights in what the different aspects of the job are. At a certain point in their path to a first job experience, you need to take an important decision as a young person. What is the direction I would like to start my career, what gives me energy and is being a manager (vs a leader) really something that I would aspire? One day in the life of a manager or leader can give inspiration for the path a young person needs to choose and this can shape the decisions they take during their student life.

Giving more young people the opportunity to these kind of programs would help them in making better decisions for their future career. Moreover, most students with a university degree have limited ‘on the job’ experience and need to start from a theoretical background. Being able to experience the job of a leader firsthand and also the network that comes with it – from other students in the program to the participating leaders – is a very good start for their career. Young people who take the opportunity to travel for 3 days to another country, step outside of their campus and away from their exams and be entrepreneurial enough to follow someone they do not know and make the most of the day are usually those that will make it in the future. Being part of this program is a very good first step towards entrepreneurship.

I wish for the next generation that they step into their careers with enough entrepreneurial spirit to really make changes in the world that needs more integration, openness towards the possibilities of new technology and a voice that cannot be ignored by the policy makers. When seeing young people today and their willingness to learn, express their vision and make a difference, I can only be optimistic.

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