For the Dutch version, click here. After obtaining a finance master’s degree or equivalent, you can pursue various different ‘front office’
Maaike Riesthuis describes the establishment of their company named TopFem.
Could you briefly describe what the business is and what it is doing?
TopFem is the network that brings talent and ambition together with business opportunities. We are doing this by for example organizing network drinks, business dinners, consultancy and mentoring. This way companies can meet a group of motivated, ambitious and talented girls. Girls get the unique opportunity to get to know the business, develop their soft and hard skills, and build a network for life.
When did you come up with the idea of starting your own business?
Geneviève and I always had a big interest in leadership and are both very ambitious. We were looking for networking opportunities, mentoring and the opportunity to meet with the business before starting our career. There were a lot of opportunities for guys already (what is fantastic!) so we decided to develop this also for girls. We soon discovered that a lot of ambitious girls and companies were very interested in this.
In which way has the company evolved since its inception?
Apart from the growth in the Netherlands we started TopFem in 2014 in London, New York and Paris.
Can an own business be combined well with your studies?
It is fair to say that it is difficult in some stages and parts of your studies. But I think universities should see the added value of students starting their own business and support them.
Which skills you have acquired during your studies, also come back to your daily business activities?
That must be a combination of knowledge and critical thinking with the inspiration and motivation to change things.
What are the skills you have gained from the establishment of your business until now?
The most important lesson: there will be a lot of no’s before a yes. There will be a lot of failing, falling and struggling but that is how you develop. There will be a lot of small steps before you reach bigger goals. Then there are the obvious entrepreneurial skills: Networking, organizing and pitching.
How do you see the future of the company?
We will focus on creating more opportunities to bring talent and business together by growing both geographically as online.
Finally, what would you like to say to students who are also planning to start their own business?
Do it! Find the right business partner. Develop a clear vision and big goals. Then it still takes a million small steps but you will get a lot of satisfaction and a lot of opportunities from the first moment.
Founders: Geneviève van der Veen & Maaike Riesthuis
Study: Business & Law
Company name: TopFem
Employees: As Geneviève works at Rabobank and I moved to London to work for Apple there are 6 fantastic girls in the NetherLands running everyday activities. In London, Paris and New York there are also 2 girls who run the city activities. Then we have a huge amount of people who support our goals in various ways.
Activities: Networking, Mentoring, business dinners, TopFem on Tour, Consultancy for Companies & Talent development