More expat women in top jobs in the Netherlands

More expat women in top jobs in the Netherlands

Until recently, there has been a lack of female leadership amongst the AEX (Amsterdam Exchange Index) top 25 companies. Just one woman, Nancy McKinstry, Director at information services and publishing company Wolter Kluwer, occupied a top job.

However, it has recently emerged that three more women are to take up director roles at top AEX-Index companies, and like American McKinstry, they are all expats.

Geraldine Matchett: CFO at DSM

DSM, a life sciences and material sciences company, has appointed Geraldine Matchett as their Chief Financial Officer. Matchett, who is 42 and has Swiss, British and French nationalities, will become active in her new role as of December 1, 2014. She is replacing 62 year-old Rolf-Dieter Schwalb.

Prior to joining DSM, Geraldine Matchett was Chief Financial Officer of the SGS Group. Before which she worked in London for KPMG as a financial auditor, and in Switzerland for Deloitte as audit manager.

Maëlys Castella: CFO at Akzo Nobel

Akzo Nobel, a Dutch multinational active in the fields of decorative paints, performance coatings and specialty chemicals, have also recently appointed a female Chief Financial Officer.

Maëlys Castella, aged 42 and from France, was appointed in June and began working in the role of CFO for Akzo Nobel in September. For the past 14 years, Castella worked for industrial-gas producer Air Liquide SA.

Laurence Debroux: CFO at Heineken

Dutch brewers Heineken have also selected a French woman for the top financial role: Laurence Debroux. Due to start in March 2015, she is currently Chief Financial and Administrative Officer at French marketing firm JCDecaux.

Debroux began her career in banking, before working at French healthcare company Sanofi for 14 years. Whilst she will soon be calling the shots at Heineken, Debroux herself does not drink beer.

Gender equality in Dutch companies

Women remain under-represented in the Netherlands’ major companies. At present women make up just 6 per cent of the collective board of directors - the target is much higher at 30 per cent.

Dutch firms that are meeting the 30 per cent target include Post NL, Tom Tom, Wolters Kluwer and Akzo Nobel.

Three new woman at the top of the AEX: coincidence?

Following these recent appointments, the number of Chief Financial Officers in the AEX-Index’s top 25 companies has gone from zero to three. Nancy McKinstry remains the sole Chief Executive Officer. All three expat women directors - Matchett, Castella and Debroux - will be succeeding men.

The three firms in question, DSM, Akzo Nobel and Heineken, have emphasised that their new directors were appointed on the grounds of suitability, and not to for the sake of gender equality quotas.

Spokespeople from the three companies stated that Matchett, Castella and Debroux were simply the best candidates for the roles, stressing their experience and capabilities.

Yet, in their statements, the companies did not ignore the gender question altogether. At DSM it was said that finding the best candidate, and that candidate happening to be a woman was "the best of both worlds".

Akzo Nobel stated that the appointment of Castella enhances their diversity in terms of gender and nationalities, and Heineken’s spokesperson said that "everybody is excited" about having a woman as CFO.

Source: NRCQ

Zoe Neilson


Zoe Neilson

Zoe Neilson is a freelance writer living and working in Amsterdam. She is from Edinburgh, but has also lived in Strasbourg, London, Sydney and Leeds, and has now been based...

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