International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on the 8th of March. This is also the case at Gediflora. To mark this special day, they put our CEO, Elien Pieters, in the spotlight. She followed in her father’s footsteps 9 years ago and has been running the company ever since.
How do you manage to get all your employees to work as one team?
By working closely with our employees and by sharing responsibilities with them. I believe in a horizontally structured organization. In this way you create responsible and self-managing teams. Regular consultation with our teams is a priority for me, in order to see how we can support them even more in achieving our targets.
Everything starts with the people you hire. It’s not only their skills, but above all it’s their attitude that will determine how successful your organization will be.
What’s the most important thing your parents taught you?
Above all, they taught me to believe in myself. To have the courage to make your dreams come true is something they’ve always encouraged. They taught me at an early age that it’s more important to dare to do something than to be afraid of failing.
How does it feel as a woman to be at the helm of a multi-national company? A woman in a man’s world.
I have never felt inferior to, or different from a man in that respect. Whether you’re a man or a woman, it makes no difference. So I don’t really dwell on it. It’s rather a matter of having self-confidence and knowing what you’re talking about that is the key.
Who inspires you?
A lot of people inspire me, each one in their own way. I love listening to other people’s stories, their successes and failures, their experiences… I always learn something from it.
But the most inspiring person for me remains my mother. Her enthusiasm and joy for life have had a great impact on me. She taught me that enjoying what you do is the most important thing in life, that those who persevere win and, above all, that you should not be afraid of making mistakes. She believed in my abilities. For my self-confidence that was well worth its weight in gold.
How do you manage to maintain a healthy work-life balance?
Proper planning is crucial. Quality time? It remains a challenge to stay focused when at home to spend time with your children and your partner, and not to let your thoughts drift off to your to do list.
What would you say to women who are about to start up a business, but are not sure if they want to take the step?
Any choice is a good choice, as long as you are prepared to give it your total commitment. Ask yourself whether starting and running a business is really what you want and if you are prepared to go all out for it. Above all, listen to your gut feeling. Be honest with yourself. Stay close to your inner self, that’s where the key to success lays.
What is your superpower?
Being vigilant. Quickly sensing what is needed to make progress, to expand. Being critical, very critical … is a superpower but can also be a pitfall.
Advice for your daughters
Practice and perseverance are the key to success. You will never reach the top unless you have enough willpower and demonstrate total commitment. If you really enjoy doing something, and if you put enough effort into it, then success is guaranteed.
If given the chance, what would you like to change for the benefit of all the women in the world ?
Education is an absolute must, knowledge brings strength of character and self-confidence.
Guilty Pleasure ?
Reading gossip tabloids (“blik en co”) when I’m at the hairdresser’s 😊 ; Netflix binge-watching (no-brainer series)
Your favorite relaxation / favorite day?
No wake-up call, copious breakfast, going for a walk, massage/wellness, nice food, going to bed early.
What do you like spending money on?
Like many other women, I have a particular weakness for handbags …
Which book would you recommend to everyone?
“The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle.
What would you like to do, apart from Gediflora?
There are still a lot of things on my bucket list, especially leisure-related activities which don’t involve too much thinking. 😊 Pottery is one of them, taking singing lessons (yes I like singing), even more yoga, …
Which of your achievements are you most proud of?
My greatest pride is really in my perseverance. Coming to the helm of an international company at the age of 27, I didn’t give it much thought, but now I do. The pressure of being No 1 in the world and the idea that it won’t last is always there. There is also the pressure of succeeding a ‘legend’ in the chrysanthemum world. And now realizing that you have continued to expand globally over all these years, gives the satisfaction that you haven’t done so badly. That’s a great feeling. None of this, of course, would have been possible without a dedicated team. After all, behind every leader, there is a group of strong women (and men too, for that matter).