Jointly we have spent over 40 years in some pretty traditional industries. We are kindred souls wanting to make work a place where you can thrive, not just survive.
- Former Chemist & Patent Attorney
- Start-up and Big Corporate experience
- Coaching senior exec and government officials
- Organizational Development and Change expert
- Mother of three
- Colour obsessed
Once upon a time….
… I was a chemist. And then a patent attorney
I loved innovation and understanding how things ‘work’. I did not love the hours I was stuck at a library desk, browsing through the footer on page 4035 of a technical encyclopedia to find an argument for technical court. After 3 years I decided I needed a context change.
… So i joined a bio-tech start up and guess what
We were on a roll, about to raise millions of dollars. I was boarding at gate D34, ready to present to investors in London, when the call came in. “You can turn around, we have been sold behind our backs”. ‘Why?’ was the only comprehensible word that came out of my mouth. The answer: A big personality conflict between two CFO’s. What??!! Massive value destruction. Jobs at stake. Morale crushed. D34 is where I decided: I want to do work so I can prevent these type of escalations.
… I took a break then joined Big Corporate
I cooled down by working 6 months in a high end fashion boutique in London. Then I joined a big corporate, went to Oxford and became an expert in organizational development and change. My first assignment was in a refinery with 1.500 men, where I learned that besides beautiful theory, change requires guts, clear boundaries, true connection and lots and lots of awful machine coffee.
… Be careful what you wish for
I moved on to work with senior executives around the world. I facilitated women mentoring circles, coached senior conflict teams and ended up working with Shell’s CFO. I found myself in many high stakes situations – as I had intended. It was demanding work, I needed to be super-available. Conflict was often projected on me. With two young kids at home I tried to fit in as best as I could. I was so committed it wore me out. So something had to give.
… Working On My Terms
In all this work I discovered one recurring theme: the source of your work is you. So personal power is business power. That changed the game for me. I started to use strategies and tools that allowed me to drive my context. I learned powerful lessons about presence and influence. I discovered: when you decide that you will do things your way, people may moan at first, complain, confront. But most of them will happily accept it, heck, even be inspired by it! When I decided to step down from a senior leadership role, I was amazed by the amount of reflective messages I got from people I considered ’tough’. After 20 years in corporates I left. I joined Kessels &Smit and now work with people to find their sweet spot: top government officials, Industry executives and many, many incredible women.
Once upon a time….
… I was a geologist
I worked offshore on a drilling platform in the North Sea; me and 149 men! I lived in Scotland at the time, where I climbed many hills, rode a lot of horses and kissed a lot of frogs.
… I moved to HR, got married and had triplets
We moved to Nigeria where after 2 years I was repatriated to the Netherlands for the pregnancy, so I decided to write a book whilst I was slowly but surely growing three little people inside me. After they were born I learned how to multitask really well.
… and spent 15 years in HR roles across the world
I lived in Malaysia and the USA. I coached and facilitated senior executive teams, gave career advice to lots of people and was a speaker for a global women’s development program. I specialized in large innovation and change management programs. I gravitated towards things that other people said couldn’t be done…. I develop a training program for 500.000 pump attendants in the USA within 6 weeks. My face was plastered all over Times Square. I made money in an HR role by selling services. I coached that ‘un-coachable leader’. I loved unlocking (groups of) people. Over time I learned more about how I could work on my terms. This helped me take control of my context, which extended from my work life into my personal life.
… working on my terms
and whilst my corporate jetted me around the world to diagnose and fix problems with assets and teams, I mood boarded my ideal future. I then worked that back into quarterly goals (and yes, even had review meetings with myself). I started my own company and within a year found more fulfillment working part time for myself than for my corporation. It was time to step fully into my purpose. Since then I have been working with a series of scale-ups to help them grow sustainably, have developed programs and customized interventions for companies around the world and in doing so met more and more people struggling with their context. That’s when Work On Your Terms was born.
Tessa van Westrenen
- Former Geologist
- Triplet Mom
- Organisational Health Diagnostician
- Scale-up and Big Corporate experience
- Innovation & Change expert
- World traveller (60 countries & counting)
- HOT OFF THE PRESS: puppy owner!