GovernanceLAB

Corinne Vigreux: ‘Follow your internal compass.’

May 4, 2017
Strong and independent: for many women Corinne Vigreux is a role model. She is one of the founders of tech company TomTom and a member of the Women’s Corporate Directors network. An interview about diversity, the position of women, and opportunities. 

Why is it so important in companies, in boards, in leadership, to distinguish between men and women?

‘It’s not so much the men / women distinction which is important, it is the overall balance. Ideally, you want both a gender and a cultural balance. Especially if you run an international company, you need people from different backgrounds. If everybody thinks the same way, the decision making process is likely to be unchallenged. It is good to have different views, look at the world with different lenses. This has also a very positive effect on innovation.’

What do diversity and inclusion mean to you?

‘Again it is all about a good balance. I always look at gender, culture and ethnicity. Recently, I invited some of our female engineers to a working lunch. We were seven women of seven nationalities and three different ethnicities around the table. This made for a very interesting and passionate debate.’ 

Do you have a policy for diversity and inclusion at TomTom? If so, how does it work?

‘As a company which thrives on innovation we ensure we strike the correct balance. We want to be a great workplace for all female employees but also one of my personal goals is to recruit more women engineers or women for engineering related roles. Hopefully I can also show that you can be a woman, a mother and have fun running a tech company all at the same time. I hope the women who work here think: if she can do it, I can do it too.’ 

You are part of the Women’s Corporate Directors network. What do you get out of this network?

‘The importance of the network is to facilitate women representation on boards. I think it is important to bring women who have the potential to get to a board in contact with each other. The real crux is to have more women on Executive boards, who will then end up naturally in Supervisory roles - and for this a network can play a role.

The so-called glass ceiling, does it exist? Do you have any personal experience with it?

‘I have not personally felt that I had to look at a glass ceiling. Either when I was working for Psion or later on at Campina. I had lots of responsibilities early on in my career and I was also often asking for more. I do advise our young female employees to make sure they make their managers aware of how they see their next step. It is important to speak up. A lot of women often think: ‘My manager sees I’m working hard, he or she sees I am a good employee and ready for that opportunity’, but the manager doesn’t always know or realize that his or her team member is ready to move on and looking for a new challenge. Women tend to put themselves forward less than men for new opportunities. Often this has to do with lack of confidence and a desire to do everything perfectly. It is important to speak up.

What advice would you like to give to ambitious women?

‘Go for it! Don’t let anybody interfere with what YOU really want to do. Don’t bow to peer pressure. As women we often get judged, whatever we do, so the best strategy is to do what is right for us. It is very possible to have a high responsible job and raise a family. Many women by the way don’t have the luxury of choice. Do something that is important to you. The first 10 years of anyone’s career is key to take some risks and try to find what really motivates us and makes us happy in a work environment. Be curious, keep learning - as we are in an increasingly changing environment this is key. Follow the drive that’s inside you. You know best what is right for you. Follow your internal compass.

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