Empowering your career: Unleashing the true power of self-advocacy

Written by Suzanne van Amerongen

13 Jul 2023

Empowering your career: Unleashing the true power of self-advocacy - Heidy Abma-Van Amerongen

There is no question that there is an increasing rate of women in male-dominated careers; however, one of the most demanding industries to conquer for women is the logistics industry, and the reason for that is the lack of assertiveness and lower self-confidence of women. Logistics needs to catch up with women's professional aspirations since, according to many, it frequently involves physical work.

Negotiating for yourself in your career can be challenging for many people, as it involves confrontations. But how do you ensure that your development path aligns with your career goals, and how does self-empowerment shape your career path? From breaking down gender barriers and adversity to triumph, Heidy Abma-Van Amerongen rose to the top of the logistics industry through self-empowerment and determination towards her career goal, and here is how she did it!

Let's start with Heidy's Background

Heidy began her career as a dental assistant. Still, an accident that hindered her capacity to work was what she called “A life-changing incident” because it allowed her to pursue a different line of employment. Heidy was hired from the employment agency after beginning her job as an inbound strategy planner at Flextronics Logistics for Logitech. She enrolled in an evening logistics course through HBO to advance her job. In 2009, she went to Vlueten in Utrecht since BNS Data Logistics wanted her as their warehouse operating manager. She chose to stop studying in 2009 because she was pregnant. She claimed that working at BNS Data Logistics was a positive experience because she was well-respected for her managerial qualities. When she started, the company had eight employees; after four years, that number had increased to 60, most of whom were men. She later worked for CEVA Logistics, where she struggled with managing 125 Polish workers due to the language barrier and cultural differences when she relocated to Nijmegen. Although these barriers were tough, she worked closely with her supervisor to translate for her employees to navigate the process and succeeded.

Later on, she worked for Vink Company, responsible for their sales and marketing; this was when her career was finished. Heidy had worked 14 years in one of the toughest management jobs in the world!

Common Challenges

I asked Heidy about some common challenges she faced as a Female Logistic Manager in a man's world.

“My qualities are often kindness and empathy that usually come with being a woman; however, in my opinion, I have felt that I needed to prove that I am worth more and that I really needed to be confident.”

Several women face such challenges that make them feel that they have lost motivation because they have to prove their worth more, which is often very demotivating. Heidy has felt the pressure of trying to prove herself for many months while working in this field. When she used to work for Logitech, she was hired as a manager, and for the longest time, she had to build confidence and courage to negotiate for herself.

Here are some strategies from Heidy herself for self-advocacy and negotiating!

1. Prepare

When she mentioned preparing, she meant to prepare what you will say when you walk through those doors and stand up for yourself; prepare your information, speech, and why you deserve the opportunity.

2. Practise your speech!

Heidy mentioned that women tend to get emotional; she also experiences this and recognises the problem. She said, “Talk, talk, and practise with yourself in the mirror, in your head, and with your significant other.” Remember, do not let your emotions get the best of you.

3. Have faith in yourself

As mentioned in the first paragraph of this article, numerous women struggle with self-confidence and self-doubt.

“Believe in yourself and the knowledge that you have.”

In demanding industries like logistics, you would only start working there if you had the skills and knowledge.

4. Just do it

It is hard to keep up the motivation, but consistency is critical. Heidy never took days off as a manager, even when she had a son. She was well aware of how important her role was as a manager and as a mother. She still managed to finish her task for the day at her job. Furthermore, she managed her time around her responsibilities. It was mentally exhausting, but she said, “Just do it.” Don't create excuses. She conquered the word “working mum!” Heidy was a mother and a manager, and Heidy fought hard for what she deserved. She worked hard, and although being emotional doesn't always come in handy, she preserved one particular skill: empathy.

“My management style is hostmanship; I like to know my employees, see what interests them, and move them. Help them grow and stay or get happy in what they are doing. I believe in the fact that if people are happy and love to go to their job, the customers will get this feeling from the company too. So win-win!”

Heidy always made her employees feel like they could come to her to talk about family or any other matters; being kind and understanding is a skill not many people in the business world have. There is nothing wrong with being emotional if you manage your emotions correctly.

Heidy is a successful business owner of her Abma Hoeve business, taking care of horses, and is currently studying to become a trainer.

You can achieve your goal through self-empowerment and get what you deserve by negotiating it. You have the power in you now; it is up to you how you want to use it!