Liesbeth loves nature and indoor greenery, that much is certain. “If I were CEO of Mediabrands for one day, I would fill the office with thousands of plants to create a jungle with green oases that people can retreat to and work.” She also likes to cook, so she would be keen to install a larger kitchen in the office. “Why not cook with colleagues and get to know each other in a different way?”
At work, Liesbeth feels most comfortable with a role behind the scenes. She leads the Data & Tech team: they analyze, harmonize and visualize data from all channels for internal and client teams, they also work with ad- and martech platforms or consult on novelty tech movements.
“We analyze for example the effects of advertising campaigns, who engaged with ads and whether targets were achieved. We feed that into clear visualizations that can be so beautiful I sometimes call it data-art.”
It wasn’t entirely foreseen that Liesbeth would end up in a technology job because she has a creative background: “I studied Graphic Arts/Photoshop (BA) and also got a master’s degree in Fine Arts and Art History. In a previous life I was a theatre and dance photographer and Photoshop teacher and consultant. I still use that visual approach in my work, although now I combine it with a decent dose of math and data.”
Learning to say “no”
Early 2012, Liesbeth moved with her family to Vancouver for her husband’s job. There she immediately got hired as a resident dance photographer for the renowned international dance and theatre PUSH festival, but she soon felt this was no longer the life for her. “That was a clear sign for me: in everything I do, I give it my all. If I feel that I have ‘been there, done that’, it’s time for something new.” When at one point an opportunity as an ad operations specialist in a DCO technology startup crossed her path, she did not hesitate: “Advertising technology was fairly new to me, but I was instantly intrigued. You could say that I got heavily trained on the job”. As the Canadian AdTech company grew fast on a global scale, so did her job description and experience.
Repetitive work is not her thing. Liesbeth likes variety and is open to everything, except for excessively crazy requests. “Yes, the client is king, but after working many years for a Canadian company with global clients, I realized that in Belgium we are sometimes too quick to comply with clients’ wishes. Respect can also be earned by saying ‘no’ when it’s legit.”
Within the team, Liesbeth likes to keep the mood positive, where you can laugh and sometimes tease. “Colleagues will say that sometimes I’m all over the place in conversations because I’m straightforward and express what I think. In one sentence I may switch between English, French and Dutch without realizing it. Of course, they joke about it but they have gotten used to it by now, so they understand me perfectly well”.
Before moving to Canada, Liesbeth and her husband lived in the Congo and in the Netherlands. “Once you’ve lived abroad, you can never get rid of the expat virus. When my husband’s fellowship of 3 years ended, we decided to move back to Belgium to raise our children. I think it’s important that they get to know their family. At some point, when they are old enough, we may move on again.”
“We regularly go back to Vancouver or have Canadian friends over to stay with us in Brussels” Liesbeth adds. “We still have such close connections, for example with Kayce and Roy, who were our neighbors in West 32nd street in Vancouver for over three years. They were like our children’s Canadian grandparents. They really tried to make us stay; they are getting really old and don’t have much family to take care of them. When we moved back to Belgium, they gave us an Inuit soapstone bear statue and it has a central place in our living room. We miss and love them dearly.”