Free your dreams
I decided to study Japanese and work in Japan. The next step was deciding I wanted to work in Belgium as an Office Manager. Then, I wanted to become a professional artist and have my own company. And finally, I decided to go back to school and start all over. In every case, it was a conscious decision to make a change and go for what seemed best for me at that time in my life. I have no regrets, every choice I made has taken me further towards the life I wish to lead and the person I want to be.
Now, I have an MBA under my belt and I've decided to use all I have learned during my career to help others find the courage to make these life-altering choices and go for what their heart tells them to do. Yes, that includes you. It's all about seeing and grasping opportunities. It can be scary, but believe me it's worth it in the end.
I was able to grow with the right kind of support, and so can you. Give me a call, and let's work out together how I can help you go for what is right for you.
These articles are a series about Japan and Belgium.
- 3I Leadership
It's time to open your eyes, use all your inherent skills and learn some more in order to raise your game.
The 3I (or eye) Leadership Program can help you become a better team leader or improve your chances to become one. Yes, 3I or 3eye, because these are I's you need to keep an eye on.
The 3I-Leader is Intelligent, Inclusive and Intrapreneurial.
Intelligent stands for IQ as well as EQ, the business and personal skills you need to make a team work.
Inclusive is the way to work in a global environment, taking into account cultural differences in your working environment (team as well as clients) and using those to do better business in the future.
An Intrapreneurial mindset is what you want from yourself and every member of your team. The ability to make sound business decisions within your own responsibility. Going above and beyond what is expected of you.
The 3I-Leadership program is interactive, no boring lectures but real-life experiences and case studies carefully selected to provide the best learning experience and a lasting impact on your mindset.
Do you have a team leader or member in your organization who needs some extra encouragement?
After conducting a 360° review we will develop a coaching program that fits the needs of this individual. All or selected modules of the 3I-Leadership program, and/or additional training can be provided at your company.
The 3I-Leadership program is very well suited to encourage women to step up to the challenge of being a leader in a still mostly male corporate environment.
Is one of your teams lagging behind in results, or are there conflicts between team-members?
The 3I-Leadership program can help you get to the root of the problem and fix it. Reviewing the team-members, we will take a look at current issues and develop a program to help all team-members shine and the entire team excel.
All or selected modules of the 3I-Leadership program, and/or additional training can be provided at your company.
- Vision & Mission
Vision & Mission
I like helping people.
It's really as simple as that.
In my entire career, that has always been the most important ingredient. Delivering quality on time as an Office Manager, providing a one-stop solution as an independent entrepreneur, and now finally really helping people work better together and help them develop international skills.
Japan has given me so much over the years, now it's time for me to give something back. Using my people skills and the varied experiences in my working life, I'm dedicated to help employees in Japan reach their utmost potential, so that they can thrive in this new global environment.
Tsunago Consulting (9/2014-present)
Link Global Solution Inc. (8&9/2014)
Globis Corporation (6&7/2014)
Japan Cultural Centre (2010-2012)
It's Art bvba (2008-2012)
TecMate International NV (1998-2008)
Komatsu City Hall (1997-1998)
Currently I'm working as an external consultant for Tsunago, developing and teaching cross-cultural communication workshops and at the same time further developing my own 3I-Leadership program.
Link Global Solution Inc.
(8&9/2014 Tokyo internship)
During my two months at LGS I developed and wrote a 1-day diversity program, focusing on age, gender and nationality. I delivered this program to HR-related clients, and the contents I developed will be integrated into other LGS programs.
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(6&7/2014 Tokyo internship)
My internship at Globis Corporation took place in the Global Brand Communication Department, my brief was to develop a plan on how to improve Globis brand awareness in South-East Asia and improve consumer raffic to the Globis.jp site. I voluntarily added improving the English level of certain company websites and MBA program syllabi to that list.
The program culminated in planning to launch the English division of the Globis MBA alumni Association, including a mentorship program and planning and coordinating events in Japan and local chapters in South-East Asia.
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Japan Cultural Centre
Over the years it became apparent that the general public was more and more interested in Japan and in our events, which led to the founding of the Japan Cultural Center npo in 2010. My background as Master in Japanese Studies was fundamental in its conception and it was decided I would become the first director of the Center.
The Center's success was immediate, resulting in several commissions to yearly represent authentic Japanese culture on youth-oriented fairs like Made In Asia, Japan-Expo Brussels and Atsusacon. More suited to its non profit nature, the Center also took the successful Tatake!-Taiko school under its wing and continues to expand the number of locations and students.
In 2012 the Japan Cultural Center npo was hired by Hasselt City Council to design and carry out all events centered around the 20th year anniversary of the Japanese Garden of Hasselt. In total we carried out over 40 events from April until October 2012, including a media campagne with website, FaceBook page and tv- and radio coverage. Due to the success of these events, the Japan Cultural Center npo was hired again to continue organizing certain events in 2013.
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It's Art bvba
In 2007, I met Bart Gits, and our mutual interest in the Japanese art of drumming - Wadaiko- led us to found the group Tatake!-Taiko (Japanese for "hit that drum !). Under the leadership of Bart the band quickly evolved into a professional Wadaiko band, the first Belgian band to play on a Wadaiko festival in Japan Kyoko in Kumano in 2009.
In January 2008 I became co-founder & partner in It's Art bvba, founded first and foremost to promote the highly successful Wadaiko band Tatake!-Taiko for company events and concerts. We managed to become a permanent fixture in the "Youth and Music" program of the Belgian government in 2008, which has led to performances and workshops in schools all over the country. It has been a great joy to be able to introduce Wadaiko to the Belgian youth.
Receiving more and more requests for complete company events, It's Art bvba developed into a dynamic young company in the cultural events sector, introducing Japanese culture during company events, workshops, incentives, designing and organizing events from set building to courtesy gifts as well as managing the professional Taiko (Japanese drumming) band Tatake!-Taiko.
I was mainly responsible for accounting, logistics & planning as well as on site building of decoration, playing in Tatake!-Taiko, and the giving of cross-cultural communication workshops and seminars in companies and schools. We worked for many well-known companies, e.g. Sony Europe, Honda Europe, Nitto Denko Europe, and many more.
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TecMate International NV
Newly returned from Japan in the autumn of 1998, I wasted no time in looking for a job and was rewarded with being hired almost immediately by TecMate International NV, a company designing and marketing battery chargers for motorcycle and car batteries.
In spite of having no relevant working experience for the job, I was hired by the then CEO Tim Wisdom because of my international experience. We developed a successful working relationship which has evolved in a friendship maintained even today.
The company consisted at that time only of 3 full-time workers, myself, my boss and one technical worker responsible for repairs and packing orders. In the ten years I worked for this company, the number of full-time workers grew to 10 people in 2008, and I grew into managing a growing team of colleagues. I evolved from mainly paper-related work like accounting, processing of orders and invoicing, to live customer contact on trade fairs and in meetings. Even today I remain in contact with some of these customers from all over Europe.
In 2003 I organized a trip for my CEO and myself to a trade show at Tokyo's Big Sight Exhibition Center, and using my Japanese language and culture skills managed to introduce our company to several Japanese companies. Out of these contacts grew very successful relationships with companies importing and distributing TecMate products even today.
Having years experience in seasonal product flow, it was only natural I also became envolved in the production planning of the company's factories in South-Africa and China. Successfully planning production and worldwide shipping was a very interesting and rewarding experience.
My years at TecMate International reinforced my belief in several attitudes I inherited from my parents : carefulness, planning ahead, team-work , respect for every step of any process and most of all respect for every human being in my work and life environment.
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Komatsu City Hall
During my final year in the Japanese Studies department at the University of Leuven I was able to participate in an exam held at the Embassy of Japan in Brussels, which determined that I was to be one of three laureates to participate in the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Programme as a Coordinator in International Relations (CIR).
I was detached to Komatsu City in Ishikawa Prefecture in August 1997. Komatsu City is twinned with Vilvoorde, a city close to Brussels, which is the hometown of a Belgian branch of Komatsu Engineering. Never having spent a long time from home or ever having boarded a plane at this stage, leaving home for 12 months was quite daunting. However the support of the JET community and also the warm welcome at Komatsu City Hall made me soon feel right at home.
My work as a CIR consisted of translating incoming and outgoing communication from and into English, French, German and Dutch. Also interpreting for foreign visitors and being their tour-guide, visiting local kindergartens to introduce myself and play with the children, teaching English and French to elderly citizens, organizing cooking classes and giving speeches in Japanese about Belgium and Europe, and many more fun and interesting activities.
My year in Japan passed very quickly, and I have an ongoing love for the city which I have visited several times over the past 15 years. I have many fond memories and am still in contact with friends from the region.
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I thoroughly enjoyed the case-study method and the interations with my 27 classmates from 16 different countries.
I was able to practice my cross-cultural communication skills as well as acquire the business knowledge I thought necessary to further my career. My focus during the MBA was on leadership and communication, and I decided to help launch the English MBA program alumni association during my internship at Globis Corporation.
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Master in Japanese Studies
From October 1995 until June 1997, I continued to walk along the path of Japanese Studies. I chose to focus on culture and history rather than economics. However, the curriculum did contain classes like e.g. Japanese Law, Politics and Economical developments in Japan. As dissertation I chose to research the spread and influence of the movement of Soka Gakkai in Belgium.
This subject meant I was able to broaden my horizon from pure paper research to a more sociological approach by contacting and interviewing the Belgian Soka Gakkai community. I was able to meet the community and participate in activities, which helped determine the differences with the original Japanese movement. This dissertation was written in Dutch, the original title : Soka Gakkai International : Tussen pacifistische organisatie en agressieve boeddhistische sekte.
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Bachelor in Japanese Studies
Situated in the heart of Western Europe, KU Leuven has been a centre of learning for almost six centuries. Founded in 1425 by Pope Martin V, KU Leuven bears the dual honour of being the oldest extant Catholic university in the world and the oldest university in the Low Countries. The history of Oriental Studies (in the broad sense of the term) in Belgium reaches much farther back in time than the history of the country itself, which in its present form won its independence as late as 1830.
People often ask me why I decided to study Japanese, which was not an evident choice growing up in a small village near Tienen (well-known for it's sugar factory). I think the brushes I had with Japanese culture from a young age were monumental to my growing fascination with the subject. I remember counting the days until we could watch the next installment of Oshin and Shogun. When the time came to decide what to study, I narrowed my choice down to "languages" and "something different". Japanese was the obvious answer.
I started at the Japanese Studies faculty in October 1992, and I immediately felt at home at the small faculty of only a few hundred students (including bachelor and master students). I graduated as a Bachelor in Japanese Studies in 1995.
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