If you created a nationwide food brand and cornered the ready-made pancake market through innovative production and distribution techniques, you’d have every right to feel pretty chuffed with yourself, I imagine. But for Ingrid Vercammen, the founder of Van Dyke Fine Foods and brand Marcel’s Pancakes, it was a culmination of overcoming cultural and gender stereotyping, two divorces, three careers and a robbery that left her badly beaten and in hospital. It was a footnote in a journey of struggle and overcoming adversity that continues. Whilst Ingrid has built a highly successful business, she also found the power in herself to own her place as the leader of her company.
In Belgian culture, it is typical that the husband is the head of the family and thus, the automatic head of any family business. Even though Ingrid was doing everything that a CEO would do, her husband just automatically assumed the title until she put her case forward. “Previously, I was a moth, without any colour. Something that blends in with the wallpaper. But now I was a butterfly. I had colours and I could spread my wings.” Ingrid’s journey hasn’t ended there. She has created a new collaborative venture called Women Beyond Ordinary with a vision to showcase New Zealand women to the world and create a global community of female leaders pioneering the new ways of business, technology, education, mindset, family and finances.
Ingrid shares her story in this issue through a keynote that she gave at our previous Journey to Excellence summit and at the same time, shows us why it is so important to have female leaders who can prove just because things have been done a certain way for a long time, it doesn’t mean that they can’t change.