18 March 2021

Female Leaders@TUI – Sofie Van den Driessche

TUI has many successful female leaders in a wide range of areas. In our series "Female Leaders@TUI" we feature these colleagues and their inspiring thoughts on the subject of equality in interview form. This time we talked to Sofie Van den Driessche, General Manager TUI Belgium.

Sofie, what is your current role?

Today I’m the General Manager of TUI Belgium;  together with the local and central teams, my core responsibilities are:

  • Ensure that Belgian customers receive an exceptional holiday experience and all colleagues , certainly in the current circumstances, are engaged to keep going the extra (s)mile! I strive to keep my direct reports, peers and all of my colleagues are informed and motivated to make sure we’re ready for restart of the business.
  • Prepare a business plan and monitor progress against these plans to ensure that the company attains its objectives as cost-effectively and efficiently as possible.
  • Provide strategic advice and guidance to the members of the board, to keep them aware of developments within the industry and ensure that the appropriate policies are developed.
  • Establish and maintain effective formal and informal relationships with key accounts, relevant government departments and agencies, local authorities, key decision-makers and other stakeholders.

Who is your role model as a female leader?

I don’t like the way society thinks in stereotypes so I don’t want to focus on a female leaders only but, I’d like more to praise to the people that impress me personally: 
My mum for her inexhaustible energy; Marie Curie is for me a ‘Grand Dame’ because her amazing work still impacts all our lives today; For courage, I would nominate  Amelia Earhart and for vision Annemie Brackx (former owner of Jetair). But, also male leaders can be inspiring: I’ve admired Steve Jobs for his creative innovation  and I like Barak Obama’s amazing Charisma.

Each year we ask ourselves the same, important question: Where does our society stand in terms of female leadership? And what about TUI?

As I mentioned previously, I don’t like the way people are put in boxes.  Already from the childhood, society influences our lives: certain sports, classes, traditions remain even in 2021 male or female dominated which, in my opinion, is not really acceptable in the 21st Century.
As women, if we want to be considered professionally in the same way as men, we need to behave professionally in the same manner. It’s challenging for both men and women to find a life balance between private and professional life. I don’t mean we can’t be ourselves absolutely not, but every human is unique and we should protect our ‘being unique’.  Unfortunately, we behave differently because we are approached differently.

At TUI, we can improve the curve: the mix male/female. It should be more in balance/mirror at GEC board level versus total men/female population in the company.
Personally, I don’t think this imbalance is intentional, because I think that women in TUI are getting chances.  I see a lot of woman next to me at in management roles and this should inspire everybody to apply if they see an opportunity Because, at the end, we are looking for the best people for every role.

There is a lot of talk about the specifics and qualities of female leadership. How are you leading?

If I have to be short then I would say you need:

  • Empathy
  • Humility
  • Persuasiveness
  • Entrepreneurial spirit
  • Resilience

And finally,


I highly recommend to create time to listen to your team even if this would be about a personal issue; the personal touch has twice the pay back. And, never forget Transparency, Open and direct communication is KEY!

What is your advice for young female professionals regarding growth in their careers?

Don’t promise what you can’t fulfill. Never stop believing in yourself and be strong without becoming ruthless. Make sure you are noticed within the company you work for. If you deliver what you are expected to deliver you will succeed no matter if you are male or female.  Don’t waste your time by feeding standard narrow thinking patterns in society