One of the Netheralnds most successful female managers is leaving her job as chairwoman of the Dutch financial services authority AFM to become a special needs teacher.
Merel van Vroonhoven, 50, told the Financieele Dagblad in an interview she wanted to find a ‘more direct way of making a difference in the lives of vulnerable people.’
Van Vroonhoven, who has a son with autism and has held senior roles with ING and the NS, said that she realised that the way forward for her was to become a teacher when she met a sports teacher who set up a football team for autistic children in The Hague.
He encouraged and coached her son and set him on ‘an incredible developmental path’, Van Schoonhoven said. ‘Teachers, whatever they teach, can have a crucial influence on an individual child,’ she told the paper.
Although she is envisaging a continuing role as an manager in some form, Van Schoonhoven said she increasingly felt that the environment in which she worked was one of privilege.
‘I felt as if I was living in a bubble in which I sit with many other managers in meeting rooms, working only with people who have been educated to a high level, the happy few, of which I am one,’ she said.
‘This society is characterised more and more by a chasm that separates the haves from the have nots and I want to spend a part of my time helping people for whom making it up the ladder it is not a matter of course,’ the paper quotes her as saying.
Van Schoonhoven will start training to become a teacher on September 1.
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