Meet Chantal Jonkergouw, the Global Communication Business Partner Manager at Ingka Group (IKEA), overseeing Group Functions and Ingka Investments. In this exclusive interview, Chantal shares insights into her personal and professional journey. From her deep loyalty to friends and the environment to her impactful role in leading global communication teams, discover the essence of Chantal’s leadership and her commitment to progress. Learn about her transformative experience with the FEW leadership program and her valuable advice for young women starting their careers. Inspired by Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, Chantal’s life motto resonates with the power of embracing challenges: ’Only while sleeping one makes no mistakes.’ Join us as we delve into the vision and wisdom driving one of IKEA’s key figures.
The FEW Alumni is a network consisting of 200 members, of which 125 are women who, since its inception in 2006 until now, have participated in one of our 11 leadership programs called ’FEW – For Executive Women.’ The remaining 75 members are mentors who have accompanied us on this journey, including both women and men.
Who are you?
Interesting question. In the core, one stays the same, but in different stages of life I think you highlight different aspects of ones personality. I am a person who is deeply loyal to friends and loved ones, but also to the company I work for and the teams I work with. It’s important for me to keep promises. I am very empathic especially when it comes to animals and animal welfare, and worry about what we humans do to the planet. Here I need to think about my circle of influence, so that I am not burdening myself with things I really can’t change. At the same time, I do act when I feel I can change things. This varies from adopting dogs to supporting charities on the ground in Ukraine, to using my influence and energy in a positive way at work.
Tell us briefly about your professional journey!
Mostly, my journey has been quite straightforward. A solid career in leadership positions in international marketing, brand and communications. I have sometimes chosen not to take the extra step up, even when asked. I guess this is because the work-life balance plays a role (even though I do work hard) and I do feel I need to focus on the things that give me energy. After moving to Sweden in 2010, things were quite hard. An economic crisis in process, and with my non- Swedish background it was not so easy to get a foot in the door somewhere. But after Högre Styrelseutbildning and a few years doing some board positions, I decided to take the position of international head of Communication and Brand at Ikano Bank, and after four years moved on to Ingka Group. Seven years ago I started in Ingka Group (IKEA, Ingka Centres and Ingka Investments) in a quite junior position, but I decided to enjoy myself.
Fast forward to today, I moved into a few positions and am now in two global Ingka Group leadership teams; the Global Communication Management Team, and the Deputy CEO & CFO Leadership Team. I lead the Communication Business Partner unit for the global & group functions across the group, including our Ingka Investments company. In my role, I am also the Communication Business Partner for our deputy CEO, and I can guarantee you that there are many adventures in that role, from India to The Netherlands, across media and government. I now work on the most strategic level but will always roll up my sleeves and help to get things done.
What has the FEW leadership program meant to you?
FEW is simply a unique program, led by unique people 🙏🏻❤️. For me, it was my first professional activity here since moving to Sweden. It had a big impact on my self confidence, which FEW helped me move through the four rooms of change as I developed and integrated in Sweden. FEW provided me with self insight, tools to work with to strengthen my leadership, and of course a fantastic network that is for life.
What distinguishes you as a leader?
When listening to feedback, I hear mostly that I move things, based on vision, business insight and a solution mindset. I seem to have a strong positive drive and boundless energy. Energy that I’m able to transfer to others. So yes, I think the main thing is that we keep moving forward towards our vision and our goals. That’s what I do, together with fantastic colleagues all over the world.
How do you create value in your organization?
As said, it’s about creating the movement. I work in a big company of 170.000 people, and have a global role with a large scope across our global functions, businesses and countries. Things can move slowly and are often super complex and interdependent. I can connect the dots, see the big picture and help others to see it as well, the role they and their teams can have. Then I’m also pragmatic so we keep the speed, deliver and move forward. Nothing will ever be perfect. We say ‘good over speed over perfect’.
What advice would you give to young women at the beginning of their careers?
For me, choosing my managers has always been the most important thing. I can add to this that choosing a company you believe in is equally important. Life is about purpose.
Do you have any role model? Who and why?
Well, Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA. His vision and wisdom still guide me and many others today. When reading the testament of a furniture dealer (1976), I am amazed by the clarity of his vision and his words. They still ring true today.
Do you have a life motto?
Let’s use a quote from Ingvar that I feel strongly connected to: ‘only while sleeping one makes no mistakes’. It’s a powerful one. Every day I need to do things I have never done before. Thinking of this quote helps me to take the leap and do it, and sometimes I fail. Then there’s another quote that helps to move on; ‘what we want to do, we can do and will do together. A glorious future!’.
How do you work with your own sustainability?
In this crazy volatile and complex world, I try to focus on common sense, simplicity, and I see every day as a development opportunity. The key is to take others with you on your journey, and communicate clearly on where you’re heading and why. Every now and then, we need larger maintenance in terms of training & development, but I’m lucky that in my position I am part of several great leadership and knowledge programs. I’m really lucky how life turned out, and I will continue to invest in others and myself to develop.