Lawyer at Keijser Van der Velden
Question 1: Who is Ella van Kranenburg?
EVK: I am a lawyer, who by (Clifford) chance ended up becoming a specialist in the financial service industry.
Question 2. What do you enjoy most about your job and what do you find most difficult?
EVK: I enjoy bringing complex legal issues back to proportion, to see if practical and workable solutions can be found for clients. I think one of the best compliments I recently had was that a client was struggling to understand certain legal concepts and she mentioned that after reading my notes it was perfectly clear to her.
With the strong increase of regulations it becomes more and more difficult to consider oneself an true expert in all areas and sometimes it’s difficult to keep up with all the new developments and changes.
Question 3. As a female (young)leader or a woman working in the financial sector, what has been the most significant barrier in your career so far?
EVK: Men dominated area and to be honest, I may have been the biggest barrier to myself.
Question 4. What is the best piece of advice given to you? Who gave you that advice?
EVK: Stay calm and strong and believe in yourself. It was said by a long term friend and the advice was given in relation to my response on question 6.
Question 5. Who inspired/inspires (role model) you and why?
EVK: My mother-in-law who, as a 16 year old girl, left on a boat from Suriname for the Netherlands with a scholarship. She is incredibly strong, sweet, thoughtful and is the perfect example of how cultures can mix and mingle in harmony.
Question 6.When you began your career (many) years ago, did you ever imagine that you would be a (young) leader in a male-dominated profession?
EVK: No, I do not think that I had any thoughts on where my life would go. Being flexible did help me when at a certain point things got pretty rough, both personally (loss of spouse) and professionally. On the latter, I was co-owner of a new (start-up) law firm. Within a month I had a huge fight with one of the other co-owners. I left, lost a lot of money and was very stress out, also because I worried that I would lose my house that was given to me by my in-laws when my spouse passed away, so I was/am emotionally attached to the place. In the end I gained tons of experience that actually now use to the benefit of myself and my clients. Later on I fixed the relation with the guy who I fought with and we again like and respect each other. In the meanwhile I have renovated my house, both in and outside, and it makes me happy and proud that by hard work and dedication I fixed the problems, both personally and professionally. Happy end;)
Question 7. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership especially in the financial sector?
EVK: It is traditionally a male dominated environment and it will take time and good and continuing examples of strong female leadership, to make significant changes in this area.
Question 8. What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders in financial sector? And what do you think will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
EVK: It feels a bit arrogant to give advice. In the end people have to make their own choices in life. If there is one thing that could perhaps help is really try to be happy with yourself, accept your weaknesses and see if you can turn them to the better and actually make them your strengths. And do not be afraid to fail and do not let fear draw you away from the unknown, when it may (or may not) bring you great things.
As regards big challenges for the next generation. People have to make choices earlier in their lives nowadays and apparently it stresses them out quite a bit (this is not from academic research but my physiotherapist stating that his patients are getting younger each year with stress related complaints). I do not envy them, for unless you really know what you want, it seems that the first choice you make with a study and or job, will become more of an important factor to determine your further career. I cannot image how bad one could feel if one is stuck in a job / career that one hates. I feel lucky that my first bet; law and becoming a lawyer, is still making me tick as a professional.
Question 9. Mentorship? What is your opinion about it? Is it necessary? Does it make a difference? Did you have a mentor when you started your career? Do you think it would have made a difference if you did?
EVK: I was on a female development program and was given a mentor. We were not a good match. I do not think I really trusted her, so in the end I did not really benefit from it. I do think that mentorship can work but, at least from my own experience, mutual trust is important if not vital.
Question 10. When it comes to gender pay gap, diversity and inclusion in financial sector: are we progressing, moving backwards or stagnated? Why?
EVK: I cannot really respond to this as I do not have any information evidencing progress or otherwise. Generally I think men still have more chance of ending up being paid better for jobs. I feel I am doing quite well, but compared to the partners in the magic circle firm my income is probably a joke. So it is also a question of what are you comparing to / with. But if a man and woman have the same job in the same company and are working as true equals in terms of qualities in the job, I cannot really see why one be paid better than the other. If I was in such a position I would strongly disagree. I might not have dared to do so in the past, but certainly would now.
Question 11.What is some of the advice you can share with (young) women entering a male-dominated profession such as tech or finance?
EVK: Gain trust, and respect, but also remain faithful to the person who you are. Otherwise you might become a success at your work, but unhappy in life.
Question 12.If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
EVK: Be more confident about myself. Having said that, I have become more confident because experience, which takes time, also builds confidence. I love it when a client calls me and just out of the top of my head I can respond adequately and be of help. Some things take time, and becoming experienced as a lawyer is a question of practice, practice, practice and learn, learn, learn. This is not something that happens overnight. Becoming more confident to me is actually one of the nicer things of becoming older (next to all the other things which come with age..;-)