60 seconds with: Ingrid de Doncker

Business, Interviews | Thu 25 May | Author – Business & Finance 60 seconds with Ingrid De Doncker

CEO at iDDea Ingrid de Doncker takes the Business & Finance 60-second challenge.


Q. What was your first job?

I started teaching gymnastics when I was 16 and had a few waitress jobs throughout college, but my first real grown-up job was as a lingerie sales manager in Belgium.

I absolutely adored the job. For six months of the year, I met and sold the collections to clients in Belgium and The Netherlands; the other half of the year, we were designing the collections ourselves.

At a reasonable young age, I found myself negotiating big deals with the known retail names in Belgium and France, roaming the halls and catwalks in Paris to see and select the latest trends, and presenting our collections in Kobe and Tokyo, Japan.

The job allowed me to combine creativity and customer-centricity.

Q. What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

Without a shadow of a doubt, my two children.

Having them on the journey with me through life is a privilege. They both have such different personalities and views on life, but they are the best of friends. Jake at 15 is full of life and the sky is not the limit!

He wants to experience it all, and if nothing else, he would be a great stand-up comedian! Louka, my 13-year old darling, is a gentle soul but already so wise! Their independence amazes me every day and I just hope that they never lose their positive outlook on life.

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Always be considerate. My grandmother used to tell a story how you can never know what goes on in someone else’s life and to always be considerate towards others. She would ask: “If God would ask you to throw the cross that you are carrying on your shoulders into the middle of the square, together with everyone else, and then to you could choose one again, which one would you pick? ” She would continue, “The majority of the people would take their own cross again as we know what we are carrying and what we are able to carry, we never know the weight of anybody else’s cross.”

When sometimes life seems unfair, I think of that story and it puts everything back into perspective.

Q. If you could step into the shoes of one business person for the day, who would it be and why?

Walt Disney. It must be an awesome feeling to grow a worldwide brand on the back of a few mice drawings – combining your own creativity with other people’s imagination through storytelling and turning this art into such a successful business.

I would love to see how Walt did it. The impact Disney’s work has already had on so many generations: the joy, the fun, the music, the feelings – they are able to convey through different media, it is wonderful.

He turned his passion into such a powerful brand. I would like to see what his original business plan was.

Q. In three words or less, how do you define success?

Making a difference.

Q. How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

I am blessed with my team of people! They motivate themselves, to be honest, they take ownership of their role and responsibilities and they drive the business as much forward as I do.

We are still a small team so we need to be agile. And while I will admit, I am a hard task master, they are sometimes way ahead of me!

We discuss everything openly and a decision will be viewed and argued from all sides. We are a motivated bunch as we genuinely love what we do, we are problem solvers at heart and if we can do that, no matter what the challenge, it motivates us to do more.

Q. How do you relax?

I tend to be a morning person and while I used to go for a run, that has now been replaced by a quick coffee in the morning and off to work.

I would love to say that I have a really healthy regime and I give equal importance throughout the day to body, mind, and soul.

Alas, the discipline I tend to put into work, I do not apply to myself – I love to holiday though and experience new cultures.

Q. What’s your motto?

People sell to people; people buy from people. But, too many times in business, the human element is forgotten, even though it is the only element that will set us aside from the robotic wave that is coming our way.

This is where I am a fan of the augmented intelligence applications, rather than the artificial intelligence.

Augmented intelligence is the idea that a computer system supplements and supports human thinking and analysis, and it leaves the intentionality to the human, rather than to confer the machines with intentionality.

We’d do well to remember that we grow our business by maximising our human potential, not the other way around.

Q. What are your aspirations for the future of your business?

To quote Peter Pan with a twist, “To grow, would be an awfully big adventure.”

Obviously, we want to grow iDDea into a well-known brand for procurement in Ireland and beyond. We already partner up with UCC for training, lecturing, and research, we are part of a European consortium, together with other procurement competency centres in Europe to deliver relevant best practices in our field of expertise.

We have a team that partners with buyers and sellers in various industries and it is that kaleidoscope lens that allows us to grow. Procurement, traditionally, has been seen as the smaller brother of finance or operations, however, the buying function actually sits at the forefront of the right innovation and valuable impact to the business.

If your business buys the wrong things for the future, you won’t be in business for long. It is not rocket science, but it needs to be done right and iDDea are here to take the hassle out of buying and to demystify and improve the buyer-seller relationship.

Too many times in business, the human element is forgotten, even though it is the only element that will set us aside from the robotic wave that is coming our way