Meet the Chief: Sofieke Suidman
Tell me about yourself
I’m Sofieke, originally from The Netherlands, but since 2013 have been living in Berlin with my husband and our four children. Being a mom is a big part of my identity and something that impacts and supports me in all walks of my life.
When did you join ForChiefs? And what’s the story that led you there?
I founded ForChiefs with seven others in 2017. My route to that point began with a fundamental interest in people. After high school, I started to study medicine, and then took some time off to have my children. When my youngest child was two years old, I came back to my passion and started studying psychology. It really helped me engage my scientific and analytical brain again. After finishing my bachelor we moved to Berlin, where I worked in a start-up as a mentor. As with many young businesses, it, unfortunately, ran out of funding, so I started coaching training and that kicked-off my coaching career!
Since then, I’ve worked in my own coaching practice and started ForChiefs with the other Chiefs.
What is your main area of expertise? What do you do?
My main role is as a 1-1 coach, predominantly for C-level leaders and managers, where I focus on people’s internal belief systems and how this impacts their behaviour both personally and in the workplace. Therefore, I spend a lot of time learning about people and really enjoy having in-depth conversations.
To help people become their better selves – in business and life – I work through three key stages: awareness, acceptance and transformation.
Who are the clients you work with?
As I just mentioned, I am currently working with a lot of founders and C-levels from start-ups and scale-ups. In the past, I had a lot of private clients and first-time managers from businesses in Berlin. Because I want to practice what I preach, I spend a lot of time on my own self-development and learning, and this transformation has allowed me to make this progression over the past few years.
At the same time, everyone – regardless of role, gender and age – is human and we all share the same challenges: the same fears, the same needs etc. It’s all about how you learn from them and expand your understanding for your own benefit. For instance, I love working with ambitious people near the beginning of their company-founding careers who are energetic, eager, smart and willing to constantly change. It’s amazing to see the impact they have in their roles and companies when they show up with more maturity and reflection.
What makes your approach different compared to other coaches?
What differentiates me is the way I tie together the personal and professional. I want to change the world, companies and teams one heart at a time, and I want to help people understand themselves in order to positively impact those around them. Your personal compass has a big impact on your behaviour in the workplace.
How do you work together with the other ForChiefs?
In my day to day, I do a lot of coaching, but I also co-facilitate workshops with the other Chiefs and we shape and run our company together. I am also ‘married’ to ForChiefs as my husband, Hugo, is my colleague. Happily, we share the same interests and the same passions. We’re both very into development, purpose, and igniting meaningful work. So, we talk about it a lot, which can also be a challenge, because sometimes we don’t stop and our children get annoyed! We have to consciously switch off on the weekends. But, it’s what we love to do.
How did you become an expert in what you do?
In my early adulthood, I spent a lot of time working on my personal-development, reflecting on myself and understanding the behaviour of myself and others. Also, while raising my children, I was always interested in the reasons behind their behaviour – “How do you feel?”, “What’s going on here?”, “What are your needs?” – rather than telling them not to behave a certain way. It’s important to ask ‘why?’, to see people, and to understand their whole picture.
My personal interest and subsequent investment into this way of thinking has naturally filtered into the way I work.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give people?
Invest and take time for yourself. We need, in this busy world, to get connected to our internal guidance system. But that can only happen if we actively take time to pause and reflect.
Which article, podcast, book, or video do you think everyone would benefit from reading/listening to?
I’m currently reading, “Permission to feel” by Marc Brackett, which I really can recommend. It’s very in-line with my own thoughts. He also emphasizes the importance of thinking about the ‘why?’ underneath your own and others’ behaviour. To give yourself and others the permission to feel.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. I am always reading five books at a time, so if you need more recommendations please send me a message!
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned during your time with ForChiefs?
Something we do constantly at ForChiefs is stepping out of our comfort zones. I’ve learnt that it’s ok to take risks and push myself forward and there’s always a support team behind me. Risks can be both empowering and rewarding.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome professionally or personally, since joining ForChiefs?
I’m sure a lot of you can sympathise that when you become a parent and are at home, your sense of self and environment changes so drastically it impacts your behaviours. While I was raising my kids I didn’t have any encounters with colleagues. I just had my own inner circle. Then, once back at work, I had my own coaching practice, where I was also alone. But, now, at ForChiefs I work with other people which is challenging, but rewarding. I get the chance to dust off different parts of me again and I have to learn how to deal with the group dynamic. It helps me to grow and develop my professional self. And to become a team player.
How do you think your work is changing or will change in the future?
To really make a change in the world as human beings, we need to solve the problems we created with a higher level of consciousness. Einstein said we can’t solve problems with the same mind or awareness with which we created them. So we need to become more aware to be able to change – we all need to develop ourselves to raise the awareness, and luckily a lot of people are already doing this. We need to move from ‘firefighting’ to a more creative level, to be independent of external expectations and live from the inside out.
How will you navigate and grow with these changes?
I want to keep on investing in myself – reflecting, being more aware, working on my own limitations, and overcoming limiting beliefs. I’m also far from perfect and have my own struggles, but I want to role model the change that needs to happen.
What is your purpose now and for the future?
My personal purpose is to ‘ignite meaningful lives’. I want to have a positive impact on people’s lives, so they can spread it around and make their world a better place. I really believe everyone, in essence, is a perfect being – the greatness is already there; sometimes it’s only about removing traumas or limiting beliefs to uncover it.
Any final words?
Michaelangelo said that David was already inside the marble before he started to carve. And I believe that inside everyone is a perfect soul, which I can help them work on to reveal.
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