I am TopFem: Lisa

Lisa Oostenbrink is one of the participants of the TopFem Leadership Programme.

Lisa foto TopFem


Can you tell us who you are?

My name is Lisa Oostenbrink, I am 23 years old and I live, together with my boyfriend, in Leiden, the Netherlands. I grew up in Balkbrug, a small town near Zwolle, where I lived with my parents and my two younger sisters. I moved to Leiden when I started at the university. I play volleyball twice a week and I try to do some running. Besides sports, I like to spend time with my family and friends and if there is some time (and money) left I like to travel. My friends would describe me as positive minded, hard-working and precise.

Can you tell us which study you have completed and what career you were planning to pursue after this?

I finished the bachelor Biomedical Science at the Leiden University in 2013. During my bachelor I got the opportunity to participate in an exchange program and studied half a year abroad at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, an incredible experience! After my bachelor I continued with a master in Biomedical Science and a (pre-)master in Medicine. It is a very interesting combination because you learn what is wrong at the cellular level when someone is ill, you learn how to do research, and you have the social aspect and contact with patients. I just started with my medical internships, which I find pretty exciting. It feels good to finally be able to work with patients instead of reading about them all day. After finishing my two masters, I hope to be accepted as a junior doctor and I would like to start a PhD-project.

What were you like as a student ?

Well, I still am a student and I think I can say that I am a bit nerdy. I like to study and I work hard to get good grades. I received my bachelor cum laude and my grades for my masters so far are good. During my bachelor I participated in extracurricular activities but currently I am not.

How did you discover TopFem?

I received a message on LinkedIn from Maria Schoenmakers, who told me about TopFem and invited me to apply for TopFem’s Leadership programme. It appeared that Esther de Zeeuw, who I already knew, described me as the kind of person that might be interested in joining TopFem and the Leadership programme (LP). I did not hesitate to join TopFem, but I did have my doubts about joining the LP. I was afraid that I would not have enough time for all the assignments and the research-project. However, after the first TopFem meeting I was convinced that the LP was a great opportunity with many advantages and that joining would certainly be worthwhile.

How do you experience TopFem?

I joined TopFem and the LP September last year and it has been a great experience so far. It is nice to meet other ambitious and enthusiastic young women during the monthly events, where we talk about and discuss our studies, work, ideas and goals. The monthly assignments of the LP challenge me to think even further about what my goals are, what I need to do to achieve them, and how I want to spend my time. I learned that when you take time to think about what is really important in your life, you are able to separate the daily unimportant tasks from what you want and need to do to achieve your goals. You can choose to do the important stuff and it is okay to say no (I feel less guilty) to things that you believe are less important.

Do you have a female role model? How and why does she impact your life or inspire you?

I do not really have a female role model. However, I do get inspired by people that use their talents to help other people and make this world a bit better.

How did you end up at your present job?

During my bachelor, I was asked to become a student-assistant. I do not have much time left for this job, because I am busy with my medical internships now. However, I still teach and assist (bio)medical and pharmaceutical students during the breaks between my internships.

How was the transition from your student years to your working life?

So far, I did not experience much of a transition when I started with my internships, except for the fact that I make longer hours. However, I can imagine that I will experience a small transition when I do get final responsibility for my work, which is, in my opinion, the major difference between my medical internships and being a junior doctor.

What are you doing daily  to ensure your continued development as a successful woman?

I try to challenge myself to learn something every day and from every situation.

If you’ve taken part in the Leadership Programme or done a research project via TopFem project could you tell us about the experience?

I recently started with the LP research project. Right now, I am trying to investigate why there are so many female medicine students and so few female (associate)-professors, top surgeons, and board members. Is there a glass ceiling in medicine or does it have something to do with a sticky floor? It is an interesting research subject but I still have to figure out how I am going to obtain the information I need.

What is one characteristic that you believe every female leader should possess?

I think that every female leader should be persistent. Being a leader is not easy and I think that if you are not persistent you will not be able to challenge yourself to the fullest and make it to the top.

What are your plans for the future?

The coming years I plan to finish my two masters and I want to travel (I would love to go to South Africa or Canada). Afterwards, I want to be a junior doctor, so I can become a medical specialist.

What is your final advice to young female students and professionals?

Never stop learning.