AU ALUMNI MEMBER 20,000: “I WANT TO LEARN MORE”
AU Alumni just reached member number 20,000, Lisette Gonge (MSc, ‘95). She has her own company Gonge Intelligence, and wanted to join AU Alumni to learn more about networking and the MBA-courses AU has to offer.
Lisette Gonge greets us in her beautiful old house near Brabrand Lake. The house is built in traditional Danish style with a thatched roof and it has been in her family for three generations now. It’s not only her home, but also the office of her company Gonge Intelligence, which she started three years ago.
In 1995, Lisette graduated from her Master’s in Business Economics and Auditing at Aarhus University, and since then she has worked both as an accountant, consultant and head of economy at different companies as KPMG, Red/Green and DuPont Nutrition Biosciences among others. The dream of starting a company had been lingering in her mind ever since her first maternity leave, where she had more time to reflect on her professional ambitions.
“I was attracted to the flexibility, being able to plan when I wanted to work and how much. And I really like accounting, coming into a company and finding out what the core business is at this place and where the problems are, so I can try to solve them”, she says.
What is happening at AU
Since she started the company, Lisette has actually been busier than she expected, as she immediately got some assignments through her network. However, she might get a little more time after the summer. And this is the reason why she decided to sign up for AU Alumni; to find some new projects to engage in.
“I’m thinking about taking a MBA or some courses at the university, and that’s actually why I signed up for AU Alumni: To find out what is happening and maybe go to some of these networking events, see what is going on”, Lisette Gonge says.
She was also quite surprised to be member number 20,000.
“Because I didn’t know that there were so many members. I don’t know what I had expected, because obviously there must be a lot, but 20.000 is so many people!”.
Getting your message out
Until now, Lisette already has had a lot of good experiences with using her network. When she first built her company, she got an assignment at the sister company to her former workplace. They needed someone to step in and do the annual report. And several times she has tried that an old colleague contacted her because they needed her skills.
However she would like to know even more about how to get the most of your network and getting your professional message out.
“I have a lot of contacts and like talking to people. But that’s the easy part. If you’re going send a message as well, then I don’t feel completely comfortable, because I’m afraid people will think that I have another agenda when we speak. More than just being interested in how they are”.
20 years later
But she doesn’t underestimate the importance of networking today. And if she should give a piece of advice to a student at AU today it would be exactly this.
“I think it’s important to stay in touch. You never know when you are going to need somebody, and suddenly it appears that you haven’t seen this colleague for almost 20 years, but one day she contacts me because she needs me for a job”, she says as an example.
And the reason for the sudden contact was that they had actually kept in touch through LinkedIn once in awhile, so they still remembered each other, and the former colleague knew what Lisette had been working with in the meantime.
Learning ever more
Sitting at the desk with a view of the water outside, Lisette Gonge looks very relaxed. But at the same time there’s quite a few things that signal that she’s a hardworking woman.
Besides dreaming about doing an MBA at AU in the fall, and working at her company, she’s also looking for positions as a board member.
“I’m interested in these strategic decisions that you have to make and consider, because you have to think more out of the box and come up with new ideas and brainstorm to find out how to change things in a company”, she says.
Over the years she would like to get a few seats at different boards, since she feels ready for the challenge and responsibility at this point. In general, it doesn’t seem like she would be afraid of any challenge. On the wall behind her desk hangs a certificate with Korean writing. It turns out to be a diploma for achieving the black belt in taekwondo. For the third time. Soon she will try out for her fourth time.
“I didn’t know if I should hang it up, but when I got my third black belt, then I thought it would be okay”, she says casually before we say goodbye.
Find Lisette Gonge's profile on the alumniportal.
Written by Tatiana Tilly and Lotte Kamphuis