Marieke is a French-born computer engineer who has worked across the globe in a diverse range of companies from the luxury giant LVMH of Louis Vuitton fame to Boston Consulting Group, Expedia’s Hotels.com and crypto giant Circle. At Hotels.com she was in charge of Europe, Middle East and Africa, a $2bn P&L. In Marieke’s last role she was Managing Director of Europe and Global CMO for Circle, one of the largest crypto companies. At Circle she pioneered the consumer application of blockchain taking to market several products, building a user base from 0-2 million in less than 2 years.
Marieke is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in finance and technology. Under her leadership, Circle was the first FinTech to sign HMT’s Women in Finance Charter and achieve a 50-50 gender split in the sector. She was recognised in the Women in FinTech Powerlist in 2017 and she is frequently quoted by the press; including The BBC, The Telegraph, Fortune, The Financial Times, Reuters, Forbes, and City AM.
1. Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
To be your best, to thrive and find your place in the world you need to know what makes you happy, what makes you unhappy; what you are good at, what you are not good at. You need to know who you are. There are 3 simple things I do to help get to those answers:
1. Writing yearly bucket lists – every year I make a “bucket list” a list of the things I want to focus on and do during the coming year. I love coming back to it and seeing what I’ve achieved, what I still have to do.
2. Capturing everyday “small happy moments” – couple of years ago a friend offered me a great notebook “One line a day – A five year memory book” and for almost 2 years, I’ve now been diligently capturing in it every day the highlights of my day, consciously leaving out the lowlights. This daily exercise helps me focus on the positive side of life.
3. Doing tests and getting feedback regularly – self awareness is the key to improving and better working with others. Although never perfect there are great ways to start understanding better who you are in the context of work. I do such type of tests frequently and seek feedback regularly.
2. Worst piece of advice you’ve been given?
“You can’t …” – I can’t recount the number of times I’ve heard this through my life. “You can’t do sports at a competitive level and study at the same time.” “You can’t learn Mandarin.” “You can’t work in finance / in tech / in strategy.” “You can’t have a career and be a mum.” and the list goes on and on and on. Something in me triggers when I hear “you can’t”, I think, “well, surely there is a way and I’ll find it”. I am of a very competitive nature, the more you tell me “you can’t”, the more I’ll try to prove you wrong.
3. What would you tell your younger self?
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s all about balance. And reaching your destination is as important as enjoying the journey that took you there. We go through phases in life and recognising that is important: what makes us happy today might not be what will make us happy tomorrow and therefore nothing is set in stone.
Imagine that your life right now is a bucket full of pebbles, each pebble representing what you spend your time on (family, hobbies, work, …) the size of each pebble represents the time you spend for each activity over a given week. In my case I’ve always known that my family, work and sports are big pebbles. From time to time other un-important pebbles will pop up and increase rapidly in size, while other important pebbles will become so small they are invisible. That’s when I know I need to change something: kill the un-important pebble (could be that I am going out too much with friends, or traveling too much, or attending too many work-related events), and refocus on the important ones.
4. What excites you most about the future of your industry?
I am particularly excited about the opportunities technology offers to improve the financial system in general, to make it more transparent and efficient. SMEs are a key pillar of the UK economy (99% of UK businesses are SMEs) and an underserved market. With the rise of the gig economy an increasing number of people are setting up their own company, becoming contractors, entrepreneurs etc. It’s a new way of living. People want to own their time, and their life. Yet, the services available to kick start and run your business are not that easy.
At Mettle, our mission is to help fuel the UK economy by helping SMEs thrive: we are on a mission to build the simplest one stop shop for SMEs. A place where SMEs can find the resources they need to run their business. We save them time, making things simple for them so that they can focus on running their business.
5. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
Christine Lagarde, the woman who in my eyes is mostly going against every “you can’t”. Her career and her life are an inspiration to anyone (men and women). She started by transforming her law firm, then the French government, then the IMF and I can’t wait to see what she will do at the helm of the European Central Bank. She is authentic, energetic, extremely smart – a true global leader, and an amazing role model.