THRIVHER INTERVIEW: Mariëlle HOOGENBOOM

Updated: May 21, 2018




Thrivher Achievements:

Founder and business owner of BeBooming – coaching for female game changers



Thrivher Dive

  • Can’t start the day without: Cuddles with my daughter.

  • Best read for growth: The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. It’s an epic story of the journey to your heart.

  • Non-negotiable: Journaling. Since I discovered journaling there is no way back - if you do this on a daily basis it will change your life.

  • Top music track of all time: Who Runs The World by Beyoncé.

  • Most random job: Being a hostess in the Silver Spur Restaurant in Disney Land Paris. I was all dressed up like I came straight from the Wild West and I loved it!

  • I’m most afraid of: Being afraid!

  • Go-to for fun: Playing loud music, dancing wildly and singing off key!




THRIVHER MOVES:


What did you first choose to focus your studies in?

I studied Hotel Management in the Netherlands and in my last year I did an internship in a hotel in Cape Town South Africa for 10 months. I had always enjoyed travelling, good food and service based work and I knew I wanted to do something that would give me freedom to travel – so at the time, that ticked all the boxes.



What did your South Africa experience provide you with that you wouldn't have gained staying at home?

Although I had lived alone before, this was the first time I had lived completely away from my parents, friends and everything I knew in the Netherlands. I stayed in Cape Town and I loved the vibe of a big metropolitan city right on the beach. I knew no one. I had no expectations and no-one had any expectations of me, which felt great. It felt like a big adventure and to be somewhere totally different and outside my comfort zone taught me a lot. I felt a real sense of freedom and made so many friends, it was an amazing experience.


It felt like a big adventure and to be somewhere totally different and outside my comfort zone taught me a lot.



What made you return home?

I came back to finish my studies. I had a difficult time readjusting because I felt I had grown so much during my time in South Africa and yet I felt everything and everyone at home had remained the same. Part of my heart was still very much in South Africa, but it was time to get serious and look for a job. The search for a job took quite a while and that was quite tough for me. I noticed the impact of being rejected from jobs on my sense of self-worth.


I noticed the impact of being rejected from jobs on my sense of self-worth.


Eventually I got a great job at a new five-star hotel in the Netherlands as Supervisor of the Banqueting Team. They were in the startup phase of building this amazing luxury hotel and it was an honour to be part of the opening team of this hotel. There was a real sense of teamwork amongst the employees, which I loved.



What factors saw you pivot your career for a complete change?

I couldn’t see a future for myself in Hotel Management – the hours were gruelling and the pay didn’t reflect that. I also had a real urge to learn more, so I decided to study Culture, Organisation, and Management at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. I learned a lot about Leadership and Positive Change Management helping organisations grow by building on what is already good. I continued to work at the hotel for the two years whilst I studied for my Masters degree.



what did you discover once you entered a new industry?

I really wanted to go into Change Management Consultancy but I didn’t seem to quite fit in with my ‘soft’ positive change and people focused view on the world. So I decided to accept a job as a Temporary Staffing Consultant and start my career there. I discovered that I was really good at identifying people’s skills and understanding where they would be best placed within an organisation.


After a couple of years I felt I wanted to make a career move and go to the next level. I went for more money and a car lease in a company that seemed to be all about the people but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was all about keeping the shareholders happy and when the world hit an economic downturn, it all turned sour very quickly.



What CHALLENGES WERE YOU FACED WITH ONCE IT ALL TURNED SOUR?

My job was becoming increasingly pressured – constant changes, new teams, new managers, all whilst maintaining margins and targets. I found myself constantly trying to make things better for other people at work when I could see that the management were doing nothing. It was very draining and I was really beginning to feel the effects on my wellbeing. There was a lot going on in my personal life too – there were problems in my family and I broke up with my long-term partner. I think in life there are bases which keep a person grounded – love, family, work and health – and three of mine were in turmoil at that time.


I think in life there are bases which keep a person grounded – love, family, work and health – and three of mine were in turmoil at that time.


I felt like I had reached breaking point and so my manager told me to take a week off to recharge, which I did. I spontaneously booked a trip to Paris for the weekend with an old friend to get away from it all! It was wonderful to have a real break – it was exactly what I needed to regain some perspective on my life. However, as soon as I returned and I was due to go back to work, I felt overwhelmed with a sense of dread and just couldn’t face it. I felt totally burnt out and I didn’t know what to do. It was only after speaking to a friend on the phone that I realised I had a choice – I didn’t have to go back to that job! It was like I had finally been given permission to quit!


I realised I had a choice – I didn’t have to go back to that job! It was like I had finally been given permission to quit!


What steps did you take after realising you didn’t have to go back to your job?

For the first two weeks afterwards I was on a real high. I felt so relieved and elated – I even came up with my first business idea. Then after that initial fortnight, I really crashed – that was when the reality of everything hit me. All my energy left me and I just couldn’t do anything besides cry. After a while I moved into a period of recovery and reflection – trying to find myself again, work out who I was and what was important to me.


I understood later that I had expended so much energy on other people, without feeling appreciated or seen for who I am that it had completely depleted my reserves. I learned that before you can help anyone else, you have to take care of yourself first. So after that I spent some time on deep personal development and nurturing myself – I saw a psychologist, started yoga and meditation and learned how to listen to my body more.


I learned that before you can help anyone else, you have to take care of yourself first.


How long did it take you to recover and to build yourself up again?

I think somewhere between six months and a year. That period is all a bit of a blur - I think that is what burnout does to you. Somewhere at the end of it, I met my husband. I remember telling him at the time that I wasn’t relationship material, but that changed pretty quickly! At that time I wasn’t wearing any of the ‘masks’ I thought I needed before and I had let my guard down. This gave him the opportunity to really see ME, and he liked what he saw. It felt so good and so liberating to be able to be totally myself and free from pretences.


It felt so good and so liberating to be able to be totally myself and free from pretences.


How did you decide what you wanted to do next?

First of all I became a mother and whilst I was at home I decided that I wanted to have my own business. I had always loved designing and wanted to create things. I started blogging and interviewing women who had gone into the design world from a corporate background. It was really inspiring and I found myself wanting to use my skills in Change Management to help other women discover their talents and develop their careers. I could see these amazing women struggling to start a business and discover their potential and I wanted to help. Ultimately, I realised that the one thing I really wanted to do was to sell my knowledge and help other women do the same.


I could see these amazing women struggling to start a business and discover their potential and I wanted to help.


How did you manage your finances when you were starting out?

I used up all of my savings and the money from my compensation package and I relied on Social Security and my husband to support me. That was another struggle for me when I became a mother. I had always been independent and self-reliant, so I had a bit of an identity crisis. But it's worth giving that up for a while in order to create something that is really you and which can provide you with a living in the future. I feel very fortunate to have found such a loving, caring partner who supports me and respects who I am and what I do.


It's worth giving that up for a while in order to create something that is really you and which can provide you with a living in the future.


What steps did you take to bring your idea to life?

First of all I knew that I wanted to be laptop based so that I could be portable. We had the dream of living in Sydney one day so the ability to work from anywhere in the world was really important to me. If we wanted to move I did not want to have to leave my identity and everything I’d worked so hard for behind. You see that happening frequently, it’s often the man who gets the job abroad and the woman follows, only to be left feeling lost and purposeless when her husband goes to work and the children go to school. I wanted more than that – I wanted to have a business of my own, that I could grow and make money with, wherever I was.

It was a dream come true when I brought my coaching business to life and have the flexibility of being able to travel with my husband and daughter.


I wanted to have a business of my own, that I could grow and make money with, wherever I was.


How did the idea of Life & Leadership Coaching come about?

What became very obvious is I had a burning desire to help women make the shift and rekindle their fire. So many women have this fire, but they aren’t fuelled. They aren’t allowed to have dreams or do things for themselves, or they are afraid to make the shift or don’t know how to. For me, the shift was always from corporate to creative – from head to heart – and I wanted to help these women accomplish that. I just needed to work out how I was going to do that online. So I searched the internet, completed courses and training and absorbed everything I could. I then set up my online coaching business and went for it. I created my first course, found some clients to coach, and my booming business was born.


For me, the shift was always from corporate to creative – from head to heart – and I wanted to help these women accomplish that.


What was your biggest revelation since you started coaching women?

I had developed a course of thirteen modules and I noticed that all the women kept returning to one module in particular – Who am I? What is my vision? Who am I serving? This also happens to be the part I love the most, it’s so interesting to me. This is where my zone of genius lies, in helping women to really tune in and find their fire, learn to trust their heart and have confidence in their talents and their voice. This is crucial and yet so often the hardest skill to master. You can learn all the technical aspects and the practical skills, but if you don’t work on your mindset, nothing is going to be successful. So much about being an entrepreneur is tuning into your intuition, trusting your heart, build massive self awareness and take action form there.


Helping women to really tune in and find their fire, learn to trust their heart and have confidence in their talents and their voice.


What were your biggest fears around starting out on your own?

Of course money was a big fear, but also, not knowing who I was beyond my job or how to go about changing direction. The corporate world dictates that you are what’s on your resume and there is very little scope for branching out. There is no room for the individual and nobody cares if a person has other qualities to offer, you just need to fit the mould. I was made to feel that it wasn’t safe to leave and that I needed to stay in my job otherwise I would never progress – it was scary! So it was really hard to break free and the only way out that I could see was to start my own business.


I was made to feel that it wasn’t safe to leave and that I needed to stay in my job otherwise I would never progress – it was scary!


Who have been your biggest supporters?

It’s always been my closest friends, especially the ones that I’ve known since I was young. They are the ones who have seen me grow and have seen my struggles at home and they know who I am – they never doubted that I was going to make it. I also couldn’t do what I do without my partner, I feel very blessed and supported.





THRIVHING AND KICKING:



NAME your three personality traits that have CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR SUCCESS TO DATE:

Dream, drive and determination – I have vision, I have super drive and I am very determined. I think essentially there is a fire in me that’s finally getting the space it needs to be full-blown. My energy is another big thing for me, it’s what draws my clients to me - my bubbliness and positive outlook on life, my can-do mentality.



How do you feel working for yourself compared to working in your best corporate experience?

I feel a huge sense of freedom and I am having so much fun. I feel lit up from the inside and it’s that feeling that keeps me going, it just feels so good. I think all entrepreneurs are looking for freedom and it’s about self-exploration and growth and having fun creating your own life.



If there was one piece of career advice you wish you had been given in your 20s, what would it be?

Don’t believe what they say - stop trying to fit in, it’s way cooler to stand out. Embrace creativity and follow your own path! Also explore life, put yourself out there and find out what really suits you while you are young.


Stop trying to fit in, it’s way cooler to stand out.


For other women reading this who want more from their career but HAVEN'T MADE ANy killer moves YET, WHAT would you suggest should be their first?

You need to get really clear and strategic about how you want your life to be. Tune into your dream, your vision and grow it from there. Take steps every day towards that goal. If you’re feeling stuck and can’t leave your job, just do something else to unleash your creativity and find what lights you up. Research it, take a class, read books about it – carve your path. Eventually there will be a turning point, when you're ready to take the leap. That’s when you need to get some support – from a coach or a mentor or a friend – someone who will help you make the transition.


Eventually there will be a turning point, when you're ready to take the leap.

Check out how to bring your dreams to life with BeBooming Coaching here


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