Phenomenal Women of AltoPartners – Annemarie Trouwborst
Her nickname is Sherlock Holmes because of her curious nature and impressive online investigative skills, a talent that – combined with a fluency in Dutch and French and a working knowledge of a few others — has made research consultant Annemarie Trouwborst a valued member of the team at Leaders Trust Netherlands.
Few little girls dream of being in executive search. What was your childhood dream?
My dream was to become a professional ballet dancer. I did nothing but dance till I was ten years old and then a sudden growth spurt of 10 cm in one year put an end to that ambition, as I could barely bend my knees that year. When I finished school, I chose a degree that would allow me plenty of scope as I no longer had a clear idea of what I wanted to do. My whole family was in the financial industry, so I read for a degree in economics and management from HES Amsterdam School of Business.
How did you end up in executive search?
My degree was my passport to retail where I discovered another passion for marketing and communications. I worked as an account manager for several advertising agencies, developing a magazine for Philips as well as a campaign to attract recruits for the National Police. In 2006 I was looking around for my next challenge and went for an interview with SchaalX, a prominent recruitment company specialising in experienced marketing and communication professionals, as a possible candidate for one of their clients. I was not a fit, but the recruiting consultant asked me instead if I’d like to become her colleague. It was an intriguing prospect as I am curious about what makes people tick. It was a tough call as I was very happy in my role as a marketing communications professional, which is how, on the eve of my 40th birthday, I found myself on the brink of an entirely new career in recruitment.
Did you follow your heart, or did you have a plan?
I am a sensitive, intuitive person. For the most part, I follow my heart, but I am also a rational person, and I know that the heart might not always welcome changes that take you out of your comfort zone, so sometimes a more analytical response is required. I weighed up the options and went for it. I never regretted it!
What inspires and motivates you?
I am inspired by many things: sifting through online content, discussions at work with my colleagues, and of course, I take a keen interest in my friends and family: their projects; their successes; the issues that are important to them. I also love to listen to many different podcasts: Typical Dutch ones like 30 MINUTEN RAUW from Ruud the Wild, a Dutch DJ, but also discussions around investments, pension, careers, and happiness which I like to listen to during my daily long walks or running in the wood. And I love music – it is a source of great inspiration for me, from rock (Maneskin) to Bruno Mars or typical Dutch (S10). My daughter, who is disabled, is one of my greatest motivators to be and do the best I can be.
How do you deal with challenges?
Challenges help you grow and take you further in life. For instance, I relish work challenges – complicated searches, but I’ve also had to deal with my fair share of personal challenges. I once lost almost everything of importance to me. It took me years to come back and survive. It gave me insight into what is important: real friends , love and commitments matter.
Did you have a mentor? And if so, what was the best piece of advice they gave you?
I have been lucky enough to have several remarkable mentors and people who have had my back during my career and personal life. The best advice I ever got would have to be from the people who told me: “You are good enough. Believe in who you are. Do not compare your life and needs with others”.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t take life so seriously. Follow your heart, as you always have. Fear is not a good advisor. And life is shorter than you think, so move, live, and enjoy it. And take care of your health. It’s the best body you’ve got.