Natasha Lembke
Partner
PwC

Facts

  • Natasha Lembke
  • 1981, age 38
  • Master of Arts in Economics
  • Partner
  • PwC
  • Married
  • Two children aged 7 and 9
  • Lives in the same property as her parents

What do you wish you had known when you were younger?

That you should choose your closest manager with care. At the beginning of my career, I was more focused on the professional side of things and believed this was what was important, and especially that I could handle everything myself. At a point in time, I realised that my manager was the gateway to  going even further. A manager can be perfectly sweet and nice without being good at developing people.

How do you choose a good manager?

I switched jobs at one point because I needed to be in an environment where my skills could come into play far more and where I had the opportunity to develop.

If there is a basis for that, you can notice it in the conversations: is there chemistry and does it feel like the company is heading in a direction that is right for you? But it also works the other way: are you the right one to help the company go in the desired direction and do you fit in with the rest of the team?

It is important to be asked, but it is also important that you yourself have some thoughts that you can play with. In this way, you make it easier for the manager to assess whether they can develop your potential in a desired direction.

How do you make yourself relevant for a role?

You must have something relevant to contribute, in other words, being able to do something that is required. And you have to express it by being passionate about it and daring to say it. When you use your strengths where they are needed and you have a passion for it, you hit your “sweet spot”. This is where you can really “shine” and move ahead.

How do you keep getting better?

I have always sought different role models for the competencies that I would like to develop. Most people see it as a compliment to be admired for something, so I have always experienced the support, knowledge and sparring that I sought. In other cases, I ask others to observe me in different situations and give me advice about what I can do better. It can be anyone above, below or at the same level as me in the organisation.

Do women have less confidence?

No, I don’t believe so, as confidence comes in many forms. However, there is a stereotype of how women are portrayed in, among other things, films, where women are shown to be vulnerable and self-reliant, and so the cultural perception can be difficult to replace. I often find that female colleagues are good at getting teams to work well together towards a common goal. They just might not be the ones who always shout the most about it, and we can become better at that.

Do women have special challenges?

For me, being well aligned at home has been important. A promotion often means greater responsibility and, with it, more hours at unusual times. That is why flexibility and support at home are essential, and it is often my husband who fetches the children.

How important is the salary?

It means something, of course, and it helps to give some freedom in everyday life.

The exact amount is not that important in itself, but I also don’t want to feel cheated. It would make me deeply frustrated not to get what I am worth, or less than others who deliver at my level.

Two things have worked for me: on the one hand, to take the initiative for a salary negotiation, and on the other, to start out ambitiously but realistically. It’s rare for your workplace and manager to feel the urge to give you a pay rise as much as you want to get one!

What is most important in your job?

I’m really happy with what I’m working on, so I don’t always think about how many hours it has taken. The investment I have made in the company, I think, comes back many times and gives more flexibility.

What I do in my everyday life should be fun and have meaning. I have an 80/20 rule: every month, 80 per cent of the days have to be great and then 20 per cent can be hard and not so much fun, because that’s how it is when there are often deadlines to keep. 80/20 is my inner measurement of whether I’m in the right place.

What is it important to keep your eye on as a manager?

It takes hard work, but most of all, you have to be genuinely interested in other people and be able to share your successes with others. If you cannot share and spread your success, you shouldn’t be a manager.