Innovation talent from Twente – Emma

Emma van Geel (30) from Enschede is always busy. Doing nothing is not an option for her. Why? “There are so many nice things to do”. She is a corporate information security manager at Demcon and chairman of the day/speaker at Tech SpeakHers. She is also the co-founder and chairman of Future of Twente, a network of powerful self-reliant, ambitious women in the business community. 


Emma uses this network to make plans for the future of women in Twente’s business community. She doesn’t hide her opinions. High time to meet Emma.

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Emma is not originally from Twente. She was born in Amsterdam and grew up in West Friesland.

Hi Emma! Tell us more about yourself.

“Hi! So, I’m Emma. I’m an avid but recreational runner, which is sometimes a bit difficult due to injuries. It helps me stay calm. I’m also in my element when discussing important topics for Future of Twente. I get inspired by other people, often women, and see quite a few challenges for us in the future. Oh, and I’m an import Tukker.

Let’s begin with that last comment. You’re an import-Tukker, so you’re not from Twente?

“I am not originally a Tukker since I was born in Amsterdam and grew up in West Friesland. In high school, we had only a few choices: you became a doctor, a lawyer or an economist. That didn’t suit me: I wanted to make my own choices. My sister helped me; she found a study for me at the University of Twente. But I had already written off Twente in advance; I suppose there is a stigma attached to it, and there is the unfamiliarity. I didn’t want to choose someplace further than Utrecht. But my sister gave me a brochure and put tape over the UT’s logo. After reading it, I changed my mind. A visit to the school’s open day convinced me: I had to study Creative Technology in Twente. That study was not the right choice for me in the end, but I never left.”

And now you are committed to women in the region.

“Yeah, that’s right. Though they don’t have to be from this region necessarily; that’s just where it starts for us.”

Can you tell us something else about Future of Twente?

“It’s a collaboration between several companies and knowledge institutions from Twente and a group of ambitious women. We want to help female talents develop and encourage them to seize career opportunities. But we also make companies aware of the hidden potential.  


An example: We saw that FC Twente’s women’s team did not have a sponsor but achieved top results. How is that possible? It’s the perfect example of powerful, self-reliant women. How cool would it be if Future of Twente became a sponsor of FC Twente Women? And so it happened: the director of FC Twente believed in it.

We have come a lot further since then. The concept of our network has been further developed, and we give presentations at companies in Twente for a more inclusive organisation. We show them Twente’s pearls and where more ground can be gained. These are often enormously fun and interesting talks. But I must admit that I’ve also spoken to a CEO who thought he was just chatting with ‘someone from that women’s club’.”

What will Future of Twente focus on in the coming time?

“We recently had one of our community events. We organise several of these yearly, with the Step Up Event being the biggest. We also want to alert companies to the untapped potential that women offer. We would like to expand as an organisation, but we must first grow our community. We aren’t reaching all types of women yet, so we can do better.”

What do they think of your commitment to the region at work?

“They welcome it wholeheartedly. I realise how lucky I am: not every employer is this flexible. I was given a free role within the company after consultation. I started working as a quality engineer in the quality department several years ago, but I kept adding things because I noticed this gave me energy. At some point, I was searching for what I wanted to do exactly. I was given a freer role: I now join different parts of the company on a project basis, which teaches me what suits me and what doesn’t. I gain confidence from my employer and, therefore, also in myself. Exactly what we want to achieve for other women with Future of Twente.”

So you are also still developing yourself at work?

“Yes. I think it’s important for people to talk about this. Of course, it also makes me nervous. I went to my performance review with a pounding heart. I would undoubtedly be asked, ‘What is it you want to do?’ again. In retrospect, my nervousness was completely unnecessary. I have since learned that it’s OK if you don’t know what you want to do straight away. You don’t have to figure out which option will make you the happiest in advance. You can also start with something that might make you happy and go from there. You will keep developing, and you are allowed to change. I see it in myself and others: this is how it works. I think the work population will also become happier if employers allow this.”

Do you have advice for employers from Twente?

Keep talking to your target audience. Know where there are needs and be clear about what you can offer. A good conversation opens the door for both parties to easily engage with each other if there is a need. Look at the dynamics within your team: diversity in background, education, gender and age makes for a good mix of working methods and insights.

Date: 6 July 2023 |

Source of tekst: Emma van Geel |

Author: Wendy Kloezeman


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