“The best publicity is your satisfied customers, who will talk positively about your services when you are not there,” articulates Vanessa Galhardo-Galhetas, Founder and CEO of Neva Consulting, as she engages in an inspirational conversation.
This savvy entrepreneur shares nuances of her belief system and ideologies that form her principles. According to her the success of a consultancy hinges on positive customer experiences and putting values into practice. Walking the talk. Consequently, she dedicates significant time and effort to ensure exceptional quality and establish a strong market presence for her enterprise, Neva Consulting. Her client-centric approach distinguishes her by prioritizing customer needs and contentment, cultivating enduring loyalty and trust. Her methodical planning and precise implementation of strategies underscore a steadfast commitment to achieving business objectives and delivering remarkable outcomes. These distinctive qualities have rightfully earned her recognition among the “Top 10 Empowering Women Entrepreneurs of 2023,” emphasizing her exceptional leadership and devotion to customer-centric success.
Influential narratives of most accomplished people, either have a stroke of serendipity, or are weaved purely with their unrivaled passion. Vanessa’s journey, however, seamlessly blends both elements. In this cover story, we will delve into the fascinating facets of her life. So, prepare to embark on an inspiring journey into the world of Vanessa, where the intersection of opportunity and preparation gives rise to remarkable achievements beyond imagination.
Fasten your seat belts; it’s time for takeoff.
Vanessa’s View on Success
Success cannot be universally defined; it varies greatly among individuals, reflecting unique goals and aspirations. To her, “success is a multifaceted and subjective concept” that varies from person to person. While some associate success primarily with financial wealth and stability, encompassing the accumulation of riches, property ownership, and economic security, she sees financial stability as an important basis. However, for her, success extends beyond mere financial prosperity. It signifies her freedom to make personal choices, the autonomy to pursue professional ambitions, and the capacity to be true to herself. Success also entails experiencing happiness, sharing that joy with others, and leading a life rich in diverse experiences. Furthermore, it involves maintaining curiosity and enthusiasm to continue dreaming.
Aspirations on the Path to Justice
As she grew up in a rural area near Brussels, Vanessa nurtured dreams and ambitions to making it big someday. From a young age, she envisioned exploring the globe, uncovering new destinations, and forging connections with people. Even in her early years, she recognized the charm that accompanies discovering new places and meeting people, an experience that broadens one’s horizons. Moreover, she possessed a profound sense of justice, yearning to transform the world and be a voice for the vulnerable.
In her own words, she reflects, “Quite idealistically, I believed everyone had the right to be happy and have the same opportunities.” Consequently, she pursued education in law, ultimately becoming a lawyer. Today, she believes that her actions make a modest contribution to the well-being and contentment of various individuals. Vanessa feels anyone can make an impact and orchestrate positive change without waiting for a superhero.
“It is my firm belief that we can all have impact and contribute to positive change.”
Navigating Gender Bias and Seizing Opportunities in Leadership
As a female leader, Vanessa considers herself fortunate for having faced relatively few obstacles related to being a woman. However, she acknowledges the truth in the adage that suggests women often find themselves judged as either too young or too old, with the “right” age seemingly reserved for men.
Throughout her career, Vanessa has encountered situations that align with this saying. Unfortunately, these biases have sometimes been perpetuated not only by men but also by other women. Gender biases can affect both genders, often operating beneath our conscious awareness.
When she embarked on her career journey, Vanessa frequently faced older male colleagues who perceived her as young, less experienced, and thus, less credible. To combat this perception, she understood the importance of being exceptionally prepared and attuned to how her peers perceived her. She established herself as a respected professional through diligent contributions, hard work, and her colleagues’ support.
As she progressed in her career, Vanessa was fortunate to collaborate with individuals who valued merit and competence over preconceived notions and favoritisms. Surprisingly, it wasn’t just men who held certain assumptions that hindered women. Vanessa shares an example from her early managerial days when she was offered the opportunity to lead a larger team. “To my surprise,” she recalls, “a female friend advised me not to take the job. She found that I should not take the role against the fact that the company assessed that I had sufficiently proven my abilities, because this female friend told me that I was young and not apt as a new mother to engage in this new role.”
Despite this advice, Vanessa embraced the challenge, which provided invaluable experiences and propelled her career forward. She believes that had she heeded her friend’s counsel, she would have missed a significant growth opportunity and would not be where she is today. Vanessa emphasizes the importance of seizing opportunities and facing challenges without fear. She believes, “When we take up a challenge, we can only win, because we will gain a meaningful experience.”
This adept CEO of Neva Consulting considers that success, whether for men or women, depends on competence, relevant knowledge, experience, and a supportive network. Vanessa underscores the necessity of continuous learning and development as competence and knowledge are evolving professionally. She prioritizes investing time and effort in acquiring new skills and expertise, maintaining a growth mindset that constantly seeks self-improvement. This commitment has made her a more valuable professional for clients and companies, making her work more gratifying and engaging. Vanessa advocates that self-belief is paramount; if one does not believe in themselves, it’s unlikely that others will.
“Nobody will believe in you, if you do not believe in yourself.”
The Inception of Neva Consulting: A Holistic Approach to Legal, Compliance, and Leadership Services
In 2019, Vanessa established Neva Consulting, intending to deliver comprehensive services seamlessly integrating Legal, Compliance, and Leadership expertise. Neva Consulting provides advisory and interim management services across various domains, including compliance, financial regulation, corporate law, corporate governance, ethics, data protection, and leadership.
Drawing from her extensive background, particularly in the financial sector within prominent corporations, Vanessa provides the insight to offer tailored support to financial institutions in the Compliance realm. Compliance encompasses all regulations pertaining to the autonomous control function called Compliance within financial establishments. It contains guidance on corporate governance frameworks, compliance risk evaluation, independence of directors, avoidance of conflicts of interest, whistleblower protection, FATCA compliance, anti-discrimination measures, consumer protection, prevention of market abuse, sanctions adherence, and suitability assessments. Given the importance of good corporate governance, and ethical conduct, Vanessa has expanded her activities to companies outside the financial sector and provides advisory services and mentoring to companies in different sectors of activity.
What sets Neva Consulting apart is its departure from the conventional consultancy model, which often provides legal or leadership advice in isolation, typically offered by experts who may lack hands-on corporate experience. Through Neva Consulting, Vanessa extends her counsel beyond the legal and Compliance domains, actively aiding and mentoring clients in cultivating the leadership skills essential for successful implementation. Her guidance and mentorship are rooted in her own competencies, knowledge, and practical experience. This distinctive approach empowers clients to formulate holistic strategies guided by someone well-versed in legal mandates and equipped with the practical acumen to execute them effectively.
Reflecting on Industry Impact and Leadership Journey
The Founder and CEO of Neva Consulting has made substantial contributions to the industry, emphasizing the importance of financial institutions and corporations as trustworthy partners within the economy. She expresses, “With my activities, I raise awareness of the necessity for financial institutions and companies at large to be reliable partners in the economy.”
Her steadfast belief revolves around the core principles of finance and business, where trust is the cornerstone—a shared conviction that organizations bear robust support and accountability. Whether through authored publications or public discussions encompassing corporate governance, ethics, financial regulation, or leadership, Vanessa endeavors to heighten awareness regarding these vital themes, aspiring to inspire individuals to make ethical choices.
As a woman leader, she recognizes the unique opportunity to demonstrate that women can exert influence, actively engage in decision-making processes, and make meaningful contributions that fortify the economic foundation.
Her contributions have led her to be selected as “Inspiring Women in Finance” by Women in Finance in 2023, and recently led her to be awarded the prestigious title of “LinkedIn Top Voice on Management Consulting and Risk Management”.
Striking a Vital Balance: Prioritizing Personal and Professional Harmony
Maintaining a healthy equilibrium between personal and professional life is important for Vanessa. She is convinced that one cannot be flourishing in a career without also thriving in one’s personal life. This seasoned executive recognizes that she must allocate time for rest and rejuvenation to stay at her best and sustain motivation.
She deliberately carves out moments to disconnect and revitalize her energy reserves. Whether embarking on travel adventures with her family, engaging in sports at least once a week, or immersing herself in the enchanting world of the piano, Vanessa treasures these activities as essential sources of revitalization. Equally vital is her commitment to nurturing familial bonds, punctuating her schedule with moments for meaningful conversations and pure fun.
In Vanessa’s perspective, these interludes of disconnection fuel creativity, infuse joy into life, bolster adaptability, and ultimately elevate energy levels. This holistic approach significantly contributes to her overall well-being, enriches the quality of her interactions with others, and consequently enhances the caliber of her professional work.
Future Endeavors and Personal Goals
Vanessa expresses her commitment to ongoing personal growth, setting a goal to engage in one or two annual training programs focusing on areas that enhance her professional profile. Within the scope of Neva Consulting, she envisions a continued partnership with clients in the financial sector while expanding her services to encompass a broader spectrum of industries, recognizing the transferrable value of her expertise.
The Founder and CEO of Neva Consulting has already observed interest from companies in diverse sectors and aims to cultivate these opportunities further. Additionally, she aspires to share her wealth of experience and knowledge as an Independent Non-Executive Director. Her extensive volume of work and a profound professional experience, spanning the financial sector, entrepreneurship, Legal, Compliance, and Leadership, positions her as an adept resource for such a role.
In her words, “Since 2022, I have sat on the Board of Directors of Alterfin. Alterfin is a Belgian social cooperative that offers everyone an investment opportunity to generate a positive social, environmental, and economic impact.”
Alterfin possesses an impressive capital of 70 million euros and focuses on microcredit investments. Vanessa expresses her enthusiasm for potential future opportunities in similar Non-Executive Director roles.
Inspiring the Next Generation: Vanessa’s Perspective
Vanessa Galhardo-Galhetas holds a pragmatic perspective on influencing the next generation of women, acknowledging that while she doesn’t actively pursue the role of influencer, her actions and achievements can naturally serve as a source of inspiration. She conveys, “Women thank me for something I have said or done, and they tell me that I had inspired or helped them.” Vanessa appreciates these acknowledgments and is content knowing she has made a positive impact, even if it isn’t her primary objective.
She shares that if she were to influence the women of the next generation, her approach would center on demonstrating that women can achieve their goals comprehensively. Vanessa emphasizes that anyone, irrespective of gender, can create an environment conducive to personal excellence, aligning with their own standards rather than conforming to external expectations. Her message would encourage people not to be disheartened by negativity and to pursue their dreams boldly. Vanessa advocates adopting the mindset of the person one aspires to become, taking proactive steps to manifest that vision. She believes in empowering women to aspire, persist, and excel on their terms, debunking any limitations imposed by societal norms.
“Behave as if you were already the person you aspire to be in the future. “