fbpx

EXPLORE OUR

Spotlight Series: Myrthe van der Erve, CEO, The Next Web

Myrthe van der Erve, CEO, The Next Web

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Myrthe has always worked on implementing and bringing what’s next in tech to platforms and companies.

In the early 2000’s this looked like convincing magazine publishers to move from print to interactive online formats. From quite early in her life, she realised that connecting people is what excites her the most. In 2018, she was able to combine her passion with her year-long experience, and she became the COO of TNW (The Next Web). A year later the company was acquired by the Financial Times, which was a massive step for the brand, as well as its leadership team. In 2021 the original founders of TNW stepped down and assigned Myrthe CEO role. Since then she is leading an almost 100 people strong company with four different business units and partners in over 20 countries. Her work has her travelling between London, Spain and Amsterdam but there is always enough time for a smile or a chit chat with the startup founders of tomorrow.

Myrthe strongly believes that tech will ultimately have a positive impact in the world if we can ensure that start-ups, investors, governments and corporations work together.

SHECANCODE SAT DOWN WITH MYRTHE TO TAKE A LOOK AT HOW SHE GOT WHERE SHE IS TODAY, OVERCOMING INSECURITIES AND HER ADVICE FOR OTHER WOMEN IN TECH.

HOW DID YOU LAND YOUR CURRENT ROLE? WAS IT PLANNED?

I started as TNW’s COO almost 5 years ago and I loved the role and the company. I really believed that the role of COO was cut out for me, as I am a go-getter, being very action and solution driven. Honestly, I envisioned this role as my thing for the next 10 years or so, maybe at other companies with a bigger scope or different impact. After 3 years of being TNW’s COO, Boris Veldhuijzen van zanten, the CEO and founder, told me that he thought I would make a great CEO. I did not think I would be at first, but after some good thought I went for it. I love the more strategic element of the CEO’s role in combination with being the face of the company and building relationships across the ecosystem. Can’t say that I have lost that action driven personality though, in escalating issues, at times I tend to fix things myself instead of putting it back to the team. Funny fact relating to this and to SheCanCode – I can’t code unfortunately – but working with a lot of developers in the beginning of my career forced me to learn about managing people – I could not fix things myself, so I had to be patient and get developers to help me.

WHAT ARE THE KEY ROLES IN YOUR FIELD OF WORK, AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR CURRENT EXPERTISE?

TNW or The Next Web is a Media company with a focus on tech, we have online tech news, tech co-working spaces, we organise tech conferences and we run open innovation programs. We have 4 different business units and a lot of different business models, from an online ad, to an event sponsor, a tenant and consultancy projects. This explains the complexity of our business and a big variety of job roles. I love this, it brings a lot of energy and enough challenges on how we can be most efficient and where we can create synergies.

DID YOU (OR DO YOU) HAVE A ROLE MODEL IN TECH OR BUSINESS IN GENERAL?

I relate mostly to role models that are friends or family, because I can relate to not only their careers, but also their personalities. When I think of it now, it is successful girlfriends of mine that inspire me most, they are awesome in what they do, because they are smart, they seem very balanced and most of all radiate positive energy.

Successful people have a kind of ease about them, they are not afraid to take decisions and are strong communicators.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER, SO FAR?

I am most proud of where I am today and of the team that I have in place – a great team makes me more successful and happy. I am also proud of everyone in the tech ecosystem, there is so much drive and energy and momentum.

WHAT DOES AN AVERAGE WORK DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

There is never a dull moment in my work day and it depends on the day on what it looks like. A normal day starts when I wake up around 7:15, I often check my Slack, email and calendar (I know, it might not be the best way to start your day, but then I know what my day will look like and it gives me peace of mind). I have breakfast with my husband and kids and then either take the train or car to work. My People director lives quite close, so we often commute together, already meeting during this commute is very effective. My management team is quite big, I have 12 direct reports, so there is often a 1:1 catch-up meeting and a financial meeting. There is often an operational meeting that I need to jump into, because it needs some temporary TLC. The external part of my job is growing as well, more interviews like this, being the face to important clients, opening an event or building new partnerships. In between meetings, I like to walk around our co-working space to see who is working there, saying ‘hi’ to people that are there, get ideas, feels a bit like being a hostess, which I think is good. Being CEO makes me the face of the company. Oh yeah and of course there is contract signing, legal questions, new processes to comply with the latest standards and for example decisions on new entities abroad. And at this time we are very busy with the preparation of the 17th edition of the TNW conference that will take place 15 and 16 June in Amsterdam.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC SKILLS OR TRAITS THAT YOU NOTICE COMPANIES LOOK FOR WHEN YOU’RE SEARCHING FOR ROLES IN YOUR FIELD?

Ambition and drive are at the core I think of what would be needed, a healthy business combined with caring for your people and a strong purpose…

It took me some time to get used to putting myself out there, I think as a woman this can be more challenging. I am learning it by doing, but also realise that humbleness is something to cherish along the way.

HAS ANYONE EVER TRIED TO STOP YOU FROM LEARNING AND DEVELOPING IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE, OR HAVE YOU FOUND THE TECH SECTOR SUPPORTIVE?

Answer: Maybe it is just my mindset, but I don’t believe anyone has held me back in this, the only one who did is me and maybe the time factor. I believe in life-long learning and would love to have more time to learn and develop. I hope that in the future, I will be able to afford a lifestyle of working 50% and learning 50%, even though I think time for reflection is also important when you get older and more experienced.

HAVE YOU EVER FACED INSECURITIES AND ANXIETIES DURING YOUR CAREER, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

Wow, I think everyone experiences insecurities and anxieties in their careers, almost on a daily basis.

I think that it is healthy to have these feelings, it makes you human and keeps you humble.

I overcome them by realising that it is normal to have these and by talking about these feelings with some people around me, without being too dramatic. Most of all, I overcome them by doing my work, contributing to the company’s success, helping the community to proceed, and taking decisions that give my team more success. It helps me if I can contribute to someone in my team overcoming certain obstacles, it makes me feel useful and gives me confidence.

ENTERING THE WORLD OF WORK CAN BE DAUNTING. DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF ADVICE FOR ANYONE FEELING OVERWHELMED?

Take it step by step, do your thing, try to zoom out every now and then to see if you are still where you want to be. Take control of your life, by doing the work that you love or just the work that you need to do at that moment.

Don’t get too emotional at work, play your part, take responsibility, stand-up for what you believe in, but don’t be too demanding.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN WANTING TO REACH THEIR CAREER GOALS IN TECHNOLOGY?

First of all, yay to having the ambition of building your career in tech as a woman, we need more women.

Don’t be held back by the fact that you are a woman, you can do it and make it work for you.

Find your own path! Be a role model for your friends, kids and network.

CAREER BUILDING RESOURCES
FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL
RELATED CONTENT
RELATED CATEGORIES
JOIN OUR COMMUNITY

RELATED ARTICLES

Ildiko Almasi Simsic is a social development specialist, author of What is a Social Impact? and Founder of E&S solutions which has developed the world’s...
Explore the inspiring journey of Linh Lam, CIO at Jamf, as she shares pivotal moments and strategies that led to her leadership role. Discover the...
Meet Amelia Lowe, Vice President of Operations at SquareTrade, an Allstate Company and hear all aobut her journey.
Meet Roxana Dobrescu, CPO at commercetools! Roxana sits down with us to chat about her career journey into tech, walk us through an average day...