We asked Helga and Tom a few questions to get to know them a bit better:
1. If you could personally change or influence one thing within infrastructure and/or energy, what would it be?
Helga – Infrastructure at its best is hugely transformative – just think of the impact of sewage and water structures on the eradication of life-threatening diseases. But we often surf on waves of ideology and flavour of the day local preferences, instead of designing for the future. For example, do we take into account the geo- and human rights issues linked to lithium, do we consider the social impact and global fairness of a ban on fossil energy sources, etc.
If I had a magic wand I would dream up an easy to understand, holistic, global, robust and future proof “life cycle impact minus cost” tool with a multi-disciplinary group of global citizens, to assess infra & energy policies and projects. Basically a “wise choices for the universe tool – an infra & energy fast forward future demystifier”.
Tom – In Belgium, a much faster and smoother process to obtain the necessary building & operational permits and licences.
2. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself at the start of your career?
Helga – You’ll be fine. Trust your gut. I should really have read all of Chanel’s quotes at the start of my career. I had one on my cupboard as a trainee: “There is no time for cut-and-dried monotony. There is time for work. And time for love. That leaves no other time.” Invaluable advice for any girl in business. Here are some of my favourite “reminders”: “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” and “Keep your heels, head and standards high”. And finally, a piece of advice from my kids: “don’t worry about the haters” (comes in handy when the little voice in my head gets too loud – for example re potentially getting comments on using “girl” or favouring high heels)
Tom – If job is worth doing, it is worth doing well, and be ambitious every day again but always as a team.
3. What do you hope to bring to the Belgium Council?
Helga – Well, when I saw the names of the other members I saw that I (have) work(ed) with each one of them! I don’t know yet what I will add to this great group, but I’m keen to get started and to find out.
Tom – Lessons learnt from own experiences and motivating our members to share best practices.