The career of ... Sophie van Gool
‘Number devil’ on a mission
Sophie van Gool loved the Number Devil — a maths book for children — in primary school and was already something of an entrepreneur as a teenager. Her current company Salaristijger and work as an author all bring together her love of numbers, data analysis and social engagement.
Sophie van Gool (30) stresses that she doesn’t have a master plan for her career during our video call. The statement almost sounds a bit strange coming from this successful young economist with a book, newspaper column, podcast and own business to her name. Last but not least, she’s also been a mother for the past nine months.
I’m definitely ambitious and I work really hard, she laughs,
but I tend to think in small steps. She showed signs of an entrepreneurial mindset from an early age.
I used to organise parties for the kids at my secondary school. Sometimes we sold as many as 700 tickets. I still get a kick out of building something out of nothing.
She always had broad interests and decided to attend University College Utrecht (UCU).
I liked the fact that I didn’t have to limit myself to one subject; you learn to look at things from an interdisciplinary perspective. I took economics, psychology and journalism and also spent six months studying in Madrid. That international aspect also appealed to me. Sophie is fascinated by figures, data and their broader social significance, and eventually decided to take a Master’s in Economics.
That was pretty challenging coming out of UCU because I didn’t have enough background in economics. Nevertheless, she managed to graduate in 2013 and started working as a consultant at Boston Consulting Group in Amsterdam.
At first, it was interesting to quickly gain insight into all sorts of companies’ finances and strategies. You got to learn about all the power dynamics and see how people work together. In the end, though, those companies only wanted my recommendations to help them make or save even more millions. That wasn’t something I was really interested in.
I also started getting really annoyed about the issues facing women in the corporate world — there are hardly any women at the top, they’re intimidated, discriminated against in terms of pay rises and bonuses, and most organisations don’t have a female-friendly culture. Once I saw how bad it was, I just couldn’t let the issue go. I launched Moonshot as part of a study project during my MBA in Barcelona. I advised companies on creating equal opportunities for women and closing the wage gap. I noticed there was definitely demand for our services and didn’t really feel like going back to the office at all. I ended up resigning from my job, which was a pretty big step at the time. Moonshot’s services were primarily targeted at companies. Salaristijger, the company she runs with UCU alumnus Erwin Hieltjes, mainly provides support to employees. For example, it helps them navigate salary negotiations
I feel really proud when my book inspires someone to address injustices
‘Run wild and raise hell’
In addition to Salaristijger, Sophie’s book, column and podcast have created a pretty big platform for her message. So what is she planning to do next?
I’m developing a new podcast where people can share their stories about unequal pay. I actually interviewed some of the women who took part in the nationwide strike in Iceland in 1975 to protest against unequal treatment. Their stories, combined with an appeal by MEP Agnes Jongerius (‘It’s our right. We need to run wild and raise hell!’) inspired Sophie to organise a campaign in November. She might still be that same old ‘number devil’, but this time she’s on a mission.
2012 Bachelor of Arts, Liberal Arts and Sciences, University College Utrecht
2013 Master of Science in Economics, University of Amsterdam
2018 Established Moonshot
2019 MBA, ESADE Barcelona and University of California, Berkeley
2020 Established Salaristijger, Top Voice LinkedIn, cohost podcast I’m Speaking
2021 Publicatie Waarom vrouwen minder verdienen (Uitgeverij Business Contact), nominated for Joke Smit incentive award, Prinsjesboekenprijs, longlisted for Most Important Book of the Year, shortlisted for Management Book of the Year 2021, columnist at Het Financiële Dagblad
Sophie van Gool (1991) obtained her Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts and Sciences from University College Utrecht in 2012, followed by a Master’s in Economics at the University of Amsterdam. Following an internship at The Boston Consulting Group’s Amsterdam office, she served the firm as a consultant from 2014 to 2019. She earned her MBA in 2019. Sophie van Gool established Moonshot in 2018 followed by Salaristijger in 2020. She is an independent economist and author of Waarom vrouwen minder verdienen (Why women make less), columnist for Het Financiële Dagblad and co-host of the I’m speaking podcast. She is focused on equal labour market opportunities and equal pay.
If you are also interested in using your experience to help a new generation, email to firstname.lastname@example.org
14 November: join us in support of equal pay
Sophie van Gool is co-founder of Stichting Gelijke Beloning. The foundation will be organising a national day of action to highlight the gender pay gap on Equal Pay Day (14 November). If you would like more details or are interested in taking part, go to their website