In the “Meet the Board Member” we profile a member of our ScaleUpBoard alumni community. Today we are speaking with Class 10 alumni, Chimwemwe de Gaay Fortman.

Chimwemwe is a ScaleUpBoard Class 10 alumni who is passionate about innovation, sustainability and creating coalition between diverse groups. Chimwemwe’s has proven herself as an effective leader in the financial sector in investment banking, development & sustainable impact investment as well as governance, and management. Currently, Chimwemwe is the Director Capital (Member of Management) Oost NL. She is a member of the Investment Committee at the andGreen Fund and the Good Fashion Fund as well as a non-executive director of the Horticoop and the Eco-business Fund.

Learn more about Chimwemwe and her experience in the ScaleUpBoard program below!

Meet… Chimwemwe de Gaay Fortman


What is your headline? 

Enabling innovation| Driver for Change | Creative Thinker

What are you passionate about professionally?

I believe diverse teams bring you forward. We have to make behavioural changes for example to protect biodiversity and collaborating with one another and not solely focus on innovation as a solution. That withstanding, I am passionate about using innovation as an instrument to make an impact.

What are your insights on board effectiveness that you received from going through the program? 

One element of the program that I really liked was the group work surrounding the case study. Group dynamics can make or break a board meeting and the power of asking the right open questions is essential. Therefore the active learning element of the program such as the focus on the strength of the group working together, asking questions and learning from each other participants was very rewarding.

How do you add value to a board?

I bring experience in governance and on boards through Oost NL and being a supervisory board member at international organisations. Where I also add value is attracting the right people at the right time, to move a company or team forward. And being on a board is more than just showing up to meetings several times a year. So next to a core expertise you need to have a sense of commitment to make it work.

What advice would you give to someone looking for a board position?

I recommend that if you want to be on a board, start in a non-profit organization with a mission that you are enthusiastic about and willing to put time and effort into. Lean on your network to find opportunities and go above and beyond to find them.

What is the best piece of advice some gave to you?

“We can’t control the waves, but we can swim.” Some things need more time, especially with scaling. It is important to be patient and trust each other and the process. 

What do you want your impact to be through your work?

I enjoy bringing people together and building coalitions to drive change to create a sustainable future and society. When it comes to living sustainability I like to promote the idea of “start or act small, think big and be consistent.” By this I mean that even small changes are important, also on an individual level. On a corporate and public level we need imagination and courage to make fundamental changes. I am lucky to experience the same ambition at Oost NL and in my non-executive roles where we promote and invest in entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to face global challenges. 

Want to learn more about Chimwemwe? Connect with her here!

Scale your impact as a board member

The next ScaleUpBoard class is kicking off on November 24 in Amsterdam. You can find all of the details here. Get in touch with Jacqueline to save your seat:

Jacqueline van der Heijden

+31 6 55212519

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