Annemarie’s story

Added on: 12-Dec-2016  |  Last modified on: 28-Aug-2017  |  Category: Studium Generale   | Comments Off on Annemarie’s story

The Studium Generale lecture of 8 December 2016 hosted entrepreneur and investor Annemarie van Gaal. She told her audience of about 100 people about her life, and concentrated on her Moscow years.

Things have never been easy for her. When she moved to Amsterdam after her final exams, she soon became a single mother. She didn’t want welfare, and she had to work very hard to earn enough money.

Communism and women
Annemarie moved to Moscow in 1990 to start a publishing project. 70 years of communism had left a big impact on the Soviet population. Men had the power. Women were considered to be less important. But at the same time, women were more responsible. They had two or three jobs, and took care of the household.

When the publisher resigned from the project two years later, Annemarie decided to stay. She started Independent Media, which published newspapers and magazines. Other Western publishing companies tried that too, but her company was the only one that was really successful.

A new way of staff selection
Her secret? Staff selection. Applicants were given tasks to do, which were entered and judged completely anonymously. in this way, people were judged by their talent and their commitment. This resulted in the most bizarre career movements: a secretary became the editor-in-chief of a magazine, for example.

“Don’t judge by labels,” Annemarie said. With this way of selecting, everyone is welcome, no matter what  their skin colour, sexual orientation or gender is. After five years, Independent Media had grown into a company with about 750 employees, mostly young women.

Gender quotas
Since being back in the Netherlands in 2001, she has opposed gender quotas and positive discrimination. But recently she became convinced that these things are necessary.

Annemarie’s lecture ended with a lively discussion with the audience, which had lots of questions for her.

Source: Marketing and Communication Office

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