SUST MUSE - March 2021
My personal style can be described as ..?
I am at my best in a comfortable and elegant outfit! And one that keeps me warm. As I am meeting many people during the day, even if it is virtual, I do want to keep a professional look. But since home and work time are very close now, I want to be comfortable enough to take a quick walk outside or give some hugs to my boys in between their online lessons! I like a splash of color or elegant patterns to bring some creativity and brightness in my style.
What do I do in a typical day?
What I am currently doing in a typical day has changed significantly since the pandemic arrived. Not only because I now work from home since a full year but also because my professional activities are focused specifically on supporting research on COVID-19 and access to medicines that could help saving lives. This is exactly why I went into science and built a medical affairs career. Sick people need urgent help, and the frontline health care workers are under huge pressure. And equally important, we can’t lose sight of all other patients who need urgent care, as diseases like cancer doesn’t wait! My team and I we try to support them whenever we can, and however we can. So currently a typical day for me means usually long working hours behind the computer, many discussions in digital meetings and on the phone to move projects forwards at an unprecedented speed and in close collaboration with experts of different specialties. When I am not working on a project I support my team members coping with these challenging times or coaching them to find ‘their way’ to work in a purposeful way and grow as a person to become an even better version of themselves. And it is all very worth it! I do hope with the easing of lockdown measures and less people being at risk for severe COVID disease, to be able to do some more physical exercise and have social time in the evenings.
Favourite mantra or quote?
I find this a difficult one! Every day I try to read some quotes, for myself or to inspire others. I often listen to ted-talks or podcasts and when they touch me, I try to do 1 thing different in my life. Just one small thing, and it makes such a big difference! The 2 quotes that recently touched me profoundly come from the book ‘The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse’ (Charlie Macksey’):
‘What is your best discovery?’ Asked the mole. ‘That I’m enough as I am,’ said the boy.
‘What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?’ asked the boy. ‘Help’, said the horse.
Favourite place to be?
I love the variety in this world, and each place has its own unique features. I feel incredibly alive and happy when I get an opportunity to explore different places with my family, indulge ourselves in a new culture and exotic experiences. My three boys are all born in a different place in this world, Brussels, Ho Chi Minh City and Kuala Lumpur, and my husband organized the most romantic trips in Paris, his hometown. Now we live in UK since 6 years and we met amazing people and got fantastic professional opportunities! The world is my oyster..
I am inspired by..
People with a clear vision who can actually bring that vision to life in very a passionate way. It doesn’t matter what they do, but they do it with such a passion and perseverance, that it moves me every time. And I don’t have to look very far to find them. My husband inspires me and many others with his leadership and strategic intelligence, a best friend has a unique approach in creating performance documentaries in theatre setting, my childhood friend who gave up her advanced career to start studying again to realise her child’s dream to become a veterinarian and of course also Loma purpose of creating SUST! And so many others who bring something unique to life.
This month its International Women's Day & Mothers Day if I had to host a dinner party with inspiring women as guests, I'd invite?
I could come up with names of women who are inspiring famous leaders, but I only know them for their vision, not for whom they are as a person. And women play so many admiring roles: they are carers to their children and/or their parents, supportive shoulders for their friends, partners for their other half, passionate leaders at work. To truly honour Women's day and mothers day I would invite these heroic woman in daily life: my mum, my childhood female friends from Belgium, my female friends around the world who helped me through tough times and celebrate with me in good times, as well as my closest female colleagues who are brilliant to work with!
My tips for juggling work/life balance are…?
I don’t feel there is such thing as a work/life balance. I am incredibly passionate about what I do in life, be it achieving my purpose at work or by just being with friends and family to deeply enjoy life. My balance is when I feel ‘whole’, when I can make a difference to people around me, so their world gets a little better.
I find it overall important to allow space to think, relax and do things to change my mind when it gets too busy. I relax by being outside, enjoying a walk, playing with the boys, reading a book about leadership and personal growth or trying to uncover how science can support our lives!
Wherever I am I like to be surrounded by ..?
My grandfather left us his philosophy: ‘Love and work, the two secrets of a long and happy life’. I would add having a purpose to it. So wherever I am, I like to be surrounded by loved ones and friends, by humor, passion and a desire to live a fulfilling life. If you add in the mix also the sun, some music and a long drink and I am in my most happy place!
During the pandemic I've been reflecting on …. ?
We have taken the small things for granted: close family and friends, freedom of movement, cultural and social life,.. While there are many elements to be sad about, curiously this pandemic has brought also a lot of great reflections. At work, we now work completely differently with the government and other scientific partners, in a much more collaborative, trusting and productive way. I was inspired by colleagues helping out others and getting involved to support the community. I have seen how my boys actually enjoyed not being chased around for the next after school activity, and how they loved having both parents close by, in a happy little bubble. And nature took a little breath. We can’t control everything, but we can change how we react to things.
A guilty pleasure I would never forgo?
Definitely Belgian dark chocolate! Every evening I indulge myself to some Belgian truffles or dark chocolate and occasionally combined with a tasteful traditional Belgian beer. It might be linked with keeping in touch with my Belgian roots, who knows! I do follow the French tradition – you can eat whatever you want but in small portions only. That has kept me healthy enough for now!
The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe ?
The Jennie Floral T-shirt (Cynthia Rowley) is the latest addition to my wardrobe. I am so looking forward to the summer coming and I find it difficult to find elegant, colorful t-shirts with an original print. It fits comfortably with any jeans or short and easy to combine with a plain cardigan! But also very versatile as combined with long black trousers and high heels I will be ready for going out for a nice dinner!
Truthfully as Frida says, each of us is our own Muse, but sometimes we need a little inspiration! Each month, SUST will interview women who dare to be rebellious, conscious and unique in their lives or work and share some of their inspiration with you!
Watch this space..