Out of the Comfort Zone
PROVO, Utah – Jan 13, 2020 – When BYU Marriott alumna Janette Van der Weijden began her career, she never imagined she would work all over the world and be a champion of diversity in the workplace. Yet this is her reality.
After graduating in 1991 from BYU Marriott’s School of Accountancy program with both a bachelor of science in accounting and a master of accountancy with an emphasis in tax, Van der Weijden discovered a passion for international tax. However, over time she realized that in addition to being an excellent international tax expert, she also wanted her career legacy to be about diversity and helping other women achieve their career goals.
“My passion for helping women came about slowly,” says Van der Weijden, who currently works at PwC as in international tax partner in New York City. “I realized I was getting my energy from being involved in organizations and initiatives that focused on women earlier in their career, and helping women build the confidence, networks, and skills to ensure they become successful leaders.”
The organizations Van der Weijden is involved in focus on equality, one of the important issues faced by businesses and society today. “Not only do statistics show that organizations with above-average diversity on management teams outperform companies with below-average leadership diversity, I simply believe leadership diversity is the right thing to do,” she says.
As part of her commitment to helping minorities, Van der Weijden currently serves as PwC’s diversity partner champion for the New York Metro international tax practice, which includes about three hundred professionals. Her support continues into the workplace where she spends a significant amount of time engaged in one-on-one mentoring and ensuring employees at PwC have access to projects that will develop skills necessary for career progression at PwC or elsewhere later in life.
While her passion for leveling the playing field for all came midway through her career, her passion for a career in international tax came earlier. “I always knew I wanted a career,” she says. “My mom worked, and having an example of a woman with a career inspired me.” Her support system today also includes her daughter and her husband, Frederik, a tax lawyer who is now a stay-at-home dad.
Born in Germany and raised in Southern California, Van der Weijden thought she wanted to be a lawyer or perhaps earn a PhD. Either way, she knew majoring in accounting would be the right step to get there. Intrigued by the combination of law and finance she found in a required tax class at BYU Marriott, she decided to pursue a tax-centered career. After graduating, she began working for EY in Seattle as an associate tax consultant, where she found an interest in international taxes.
In 1996, she transferred to EY’s San Jose, California, office as a tax manager, and when the opportunity to work in EY’s Netherlands office presented itself, she did not hesitate. Moving internationally is a big decision, but she did not let fear of the unknown stop her. “I’m not always one hundred percent confident that I can do something, but I trust my gut,” she says.
Trusting her gut took Van der Weijden on a continued a path of success. Over her career, she has worked in Utah, Washington, California, Connecticut, and New York, and has spent significant time working internationally in The Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, and Sweden. In each area, her drive to expand her skill set prepared her to be partner. “In the back of my mind, I knew that I wanted to be a partner, and so I needed to take every opportunity to be in different locations, work on different projects, give myself depth and breadth, and prepare myself for whatever the next big role was,” she says.
In 2004, Van der Weijden achieved her goal when she became an international tax partner for EY. Her career path has since taken her to Ireland, where she served as senior vice president, international taxes for GE Capital Aviation Services. Six months later, she was promoted to senior vice president, Global Taxes and moved to Connecticut. In 2014 she was promoted to global tax director at GE Capital where she led a team of over two hundred tax professionals across thirteen GE capital businesses. And in 2016, she joined PwC in her current position.
At the end of the day, Van der Weijden’s success stems from the knowledge she gained through her willingness to step out of her comfort zone. “My favorite quote comes from Eleanor Roosevelt, which says, ‘you must do the thing you think you cannot do,’’ she says. “I have it on the back of my phone so I see it every time I put my phone face down. This is my north star.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kate Monroe