Anne de Kerckhove

This month, in honour of IWD, we have the inspirational Anne de Kerckhove, Non-executive Chair of Eagle Eye Solutions Group PLC, entrepreneur and investor taking her seat under the Alma Spotlight.

March 2024

Eagle Eye is a leading SaaS company enabling retail, travel, and hospitality brands to earn the loyalty of their end customers by powering their real-time, omnichannel, and personalized consumer marketing activities.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme was “Invest in women, accelerate progress”, what does this mean to you?

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day of “Invest” was strategic and on-point. Change does not happen unless we invest in making it happen. We, as business leaders, have to invest in women on all fronts. We need to invest by offering women in our organisation training and retraining, particularly with the pace of technological change and AI. We need to invest in better conditions for women to return to the workforce after maternity breaks. We need to invest in providing the right working environments to women when they experience menopause. We need to invest in bringing women to more technical fields and roles, where in the past they did not feel welcome. We need to invest in bringing more women on boards, even if they have not had the most traditional career paths or had board roles before. We need to invest in start-ups and businesses led by women. As an angel investor, this is particularly important to me. I have supported over 10 businesses led by women, often when none of the traditional VC’s were ready to invest in what was perceived as niche businesses. We also need to invest in mentoring women. I mentor over 10 women each year. It’s a big-time commitment but I get so much back in return. It gives meaning to my life.

What are three important tips you would give to companies wanting to make sure they have more women in leadership roles and create a more inclusive workplace?

  1. Invest in truly inclusive recruitment: Review all your job specs and ensure they are not biased towards male candidates. Ensure all your roles get equal applicants of men and women, even in sectors that traditionally are more male dominated. That means the recruitment will be harder and take more time. Change is never easy. It requires effort. Train all your managers across the organisation on the need for diverse teams. Lead by example by the composition of your own board and executive team. At EagleEye, diversity and inclusion are at the centre of our people strategy.
  2. Set targets: What gets measured gets done. Set yourself ambitious targets on a medium timescale and measure progress every month.
  3. Take a long-term approach: Invest in female talent at all levels of the organisation. Don’t just focus on your top-level executive diversity. Help women build their careers.

If you could pick three women to have dinner with, who would they be and why?

  1. Jasmin Paris: the British Runner who last week became the first woman ever to finish Barkley Marathons in the US. Since this marathon was extended to 100 miles in 1989, only 20 athletes have ever made it to the finish line. The course covers 100 miles involving 60,000ft of climb and descent - about twice the height of the Mount Everest. She finished with 99 seconds to spare before the 60 hour cut-off. I would love to understand the mental preparation needed to push your body to that extreme.
  2. Coco Chanel: She was also a leader in business, an entrepreneur, and a true innovator. Her most iconic creations with textile, cuts or designs were created when Coco was in her 70’s. We live in an ageist society, particularly in the technology space. And this needs to change. Coco Chanel was a complicated woman with many flaws. Most leaders are.
  3. MacKenzie Scott: The billionaire philanthropist is giving £504m to non-profit organisations, more than double her previously planned donations for the year. She has given away $16.5bn since 2019. It is about time we stopped calling her Mr Bezos’ ex-wife.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve read or watched recently?

The bestseller, Phosphorescence by Julia Baird is a beautiful, intimate, and inspiring investigation in that essential quality of internal happiness. I also loved the retrospective of Nicolas de Stael in Paris at the Musee D’Art Moderne. I was lucky enough to get a private tour with the curator. He dedicated three years of his life to assemble all the pieces from private collections around the world for this retrospective and it was magnificent. And the latest season of Drive to Survive on Netflix is brilliant. It is important that F1 is committing to diversity and investing a lot more in female drivers in F2/F3. Netflix should dedicate an episode to that in the next series.

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the individual financial professional(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Alma Strategic. These insights are provided for informational purposes only and may not be relevant at the time of reading, as market conditions can change rapidly. The information provided should not be construed as investment advice or a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any financial product or security. Individuals should conduct their own research and consult with a qualified financial advisor before making any investment decisions. Alma Strategic disclaims any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information provided in this interview.