Mirella Visser is an international entrepreneur, author, commissioner and supervisor, with a passion for women's leadership. She advises organizations on leadership issues.
Mirella Visser is Dutch, holds a Masters degree in Law, completed the General Management Program (CEDEP Fontainebleau) and the High Performance Board program (IMD Lausanne). Almost 10 years of her professional life she worked and lived in South East Asia. She served on the management board of ING Group (financial services) based in Hong Kong, with management responsibility for business units in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Thailand. She transferred to KPMG where she led post merger integrations of international financial services companies and the Asia desk.
In 2004 Mirella founded the Centre for Inclusive Leadership, aimed at developing inclusive leadership styles in international organizations based on her experiences as a leader in Asia. She advises international companies on their strategy in Asia. In addition, she develops specific programs for the advancement of senior women in organizations. She is a business strategy coach for senior women on their way to top positions and is frequently invited by boards of large international companies in Europe to give advice on specific leadership issues. As senior expert Women and Leadership she has been assisting the European Commission on topics related to the women in decision-making and has been the author of a number of Working Papers for conferences.
From 2006 – 2011 Mirella served on the Supervisory Board of Royal Swets & Zeitlinger, the world’s leading subscription services company (annual turnover € 1 bln), operating in more than 20 countries. She sits on the Advisory Board of the European Leadership Platform, is an Ambassador of the Greenleaf Centre for Servant Leadership Europe and board member of the Foundation Sandhi Institute (Sri Lanka) that promotes non-violent communication. In 2010 she became member of the Expertpanel Non-Executives of the Dutch Centre for Executive and Non-Executive Board members and president of the group of NED’s in North-Holland in 2011. Per July 2011 Mirella has been appointed by royal decree as a member of the European Integration Committee, a permanent committee of the Advisory Council on International Affairs, the independent advisory council of the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs.
During her career Mirella has been active in (co-)founding several non profit professional women’s organizations for which she was recognized as one of the 50 most influential thinkers in Europe in 2007. For her work in promoting women’s leadership she was nominated 'European of the Year 2007' in the category 'Campaigner of the Year' by European Voice (The Economist). She co-founded (2002), served on the first official boards (2005-2010) and was the President (2007-2010) of the European Professional Women’s Network, an unpaid volunteer function; the federation grew into Europe’s leading organization of 3500 international business women in 18 major European cities, organizing over 500 events a year.
Concerned about the developments in the financial services sector, Mirella took the initiative to write a consultation paper to the European Commission on corporate governance in the financial sector (2010) and organized a conference (2011) bringing together 40 board women of the largest financial companies and supervision entitled: ‘Regaining trust: are we doing the right things’?
Mirella is a frequent speaker on ‘Inclusive Leadership’, ‘Strategic Leadership for Women’, ‘Women and Leadership’, ‘Being effective as a leader in Asia’, ‘New Leadership in Europe’ and ‘Towards a sustainable finance industry in Europe’ at international conferences, such as the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in 2008, in corporate board rooms (Fortune 500), international business schools (INSEAD, IMD, RSM, IEDC) and at company’s events. She chaired the two-day EU Conferences in Ankara, as part of the EU’s program for enlargement (TAIEX) in 2008 and 2009.
Mirella co-authored the book 'Women on Boards, Moving Mountains' (2007) and has written numerous articles for the Dutch and international press (Financieele Dagblad, Sunday Times, Economist). Her first book in Dutch 'De Zijderoute naar de top' (The Silk Road to the Top) about strategic leadership for women (October 2009) was nominated for ‘Management Book of the Year 2010’ in the Netherlands (selected by a jury of professionals as one of 6 nominees out of more than 300 management books). In the book she launches a new positive metaphor, the Silk Road to the Top, for the benefits inclusive leadership styles bring and the different ways women reach the top of organisations. Her English book ‘The Female Leadership Paradox – Power, Performance and Promotion’ has been published worldwide in April 2011 by Palgrave Macmillan. Book presentations have already taken place in Amsterdam, Stockholm, London, Brussels and America; more will follow.
“Under Dr. Luftman's leadership, the classes prepared me for significantly increased responsibilities within my company. Within 2 years of completing the courses I was responsible for strategically critical areas of our Global Technology Infrastructure."
Director Deutsche Bank
"This week I have been fortunate to listen to and engage with Mirella on two occasions. Firstly, at the UK launch event for her latest book 'The Female Leadership Paradox', and the following evening...
"Mirella Visser is a very successful woman, full of energy, drive and positivism, taking risks when needed, supporting others, and a source of inspiration in the business world! Now read her great...
"This week I have been fortunate to listen to and engage with Mirella on two occasions. Firstly, at the UK launch event for her latest book 'The Female Leadership Paradox', and the following evening she was guest speaker at one of our regular Women in Facilities Management (WiFM) events in London. I found Mirella to be an inspiring speaker, obviously passionate about her subject, and she also listened carefully to the (many) questions from her audiences, responding with consideration and honesty. At the WiFM event in particular, there was much debate on what success really means to women, and Mirella facilitated this debate in a way that moved the group forwards towards action.
Mirella is exactly the sort of role model we seek - honest, prepared to support other's goals, never claiming to have all the answers, yet at the same time encouraging us to find our own answers. She has left us wanting more...more debate, more books on this topic, more mentors...and has certainly inspired me to be the very best I can."
"Mirella Visser is a very successful woman, full of energy, drive and positivism, taking risks when needed, supporting others, and a source of inspiration in the business world! Now read her great advice, displayed in a very practical manner with real business cases in her new book "the female leadership paradox"...and you will be definitely closer to the Top! Mirella, thank you for such a powerful sharing!"