Planet Venus Women: Lotte Engels

Until now, we’ve had the pleasure of having many inspiring entrepreneurs and freelancers.

This week, we want to introduce to you Lotte – an intrapreneur who has built a successful career that makes her go to work with delight! Read her full interview below.

Who are you?

I am Lotte and I’m Dutch, but I’ve lived in Barcelona for 10 years now. I studied Business Communication with Spanish. That is why my partner and I decided it would be a waste not to do something with it and we moved to Barcelona!

There were a few motivating factors to live in another country. One of the main ones was to become part of a new country and its culture. We came here for the city and not a specific job. It was in the middle of the financial crisis, many people thought we were crazy to make such a big move – away from our safe haven.

We ended up both finding jobs at HP. I worked there for six and a half years. First I worked at the German global account team and I quickly grew into a management position. I was also managing teams both here and in Romania.

Six years later, someone pointed out to me that there was a new position opening in the Netherlands Business Support Office in Barcelona. Originally I was unsure because I had just had my second child. However, after reading the job profile and seeing the fit I decided to apply. I believe this worked out for me because it came from a place of being really motivated about a job without needing it – I was simply looking for the next step in my career.

I’ve been working at this job now for four years and it’s a wonderful one! I love every day that I am at work. On Sundays I look forward to starting work on Mondays… I didn’t know this existed until I experienced it!

Next to all of this, I’m also a wife and mother. My two children are born and raised here, so they speak fluent Catalan, Spanish and Dutch, of course.

Can you describe yourself with 3 words?

Positive, Connector, Energetic

What do you do?

At the Netherlands Business Support Office we help Dutch companies start on the Spanish market. My focus is on Catalonia and Aragon and for the rest of Spain we closely collaborate with the Dutch Embassy in Madrid.

We give Dutch companies insights with the knowledge we have on the local market. We give them market sector information which should guide them more on whether or not this is an interesting market for them. We even go as far as doing business partner scans for them. So we identify potential local business partners and facilitate introductions between both parties. The other important element is network and contacts. We work based on an extended local professional network and that’s one of our bigger assets. We also organize events on sector information topics. It’s a lot about facilitation!

Additionally, as a hobby I’m the president of “De Kring” – the Dutch business club for entrepreneurs in Barcelona. We organize monthly events with inspiring speakers. We also had one at DepotLab coworking!

What do you aspire to do?

The most important thing is that with my next step – whatever it may be – I keep this amazing energy level that I get from my work now. I want to only keep upgrading, I can’t be satisfied by a job that doesn’t give me the same energy as I get now.

What have your struggles as an intrapreneur been so far?

Growing up I had a feminist mother and mainly for that I grew up in a very balanced family where roles were very equal. During my education as well as first jobs I was happy that I never experienced any discrimination based on my gender, I always felt treated equally and never discriminated based on gender. I never really experienced inequality or gender inequality.

The first time I experienced the feeling of being stereotyped was at a tech fair where I was with my male intern. I noticed I had a couple of people coming to us and only addressing him, and not me. The age difference was quite obvious so it didn’t make sense to me. This made me realize that I’ve been taking my path for granted because it had been quite smooth so far. I was lucky to have worked with many women in management positions so it hadn’t occurred to me so vividly.

Later I had a couple more ‘incidents’ like this, where I was at a meeting for example and an older man came up to me and asked “So, what are you doing here? Just stand and be beautiful?”. I didn’t understand why someone would address another person like this.

I disregarded it, I didn’t take it personally. However, my intern got very angry at this situation. Again, I realized I had taken for granted that most of my life I had the privilege of having been equal enough, but more and more I realize that even small ‘incidents’ like these need to be worked on so that they don’t happen anymore at all.

In general though, it is hard to find the balance between personal life and work. Here in Spain it’s quite different than in the Netherlands – if you’re a working mom, you’re expected to still go to work. I believe it’s a struggle for both men and women nowadays. In the past there was a clear role pattern. As these patterns change we need to find a new balance which can be a challenge because there is not a real standard anymore and we need to define our own standards and work out our own balance.

How do you feel about the Planet Venus community?

It’s related to what I mentioned before. It’s good to make people aware of the struggles of women and that we’re still far from where we should be. Projects like Planet Venus help make it visible! Sharing perspectives and ideas is so valuable.

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