High Tea with Alumna Helene Van Santen, Editor-in-Chief of Kek Mama
Helene Van Santen is living the career life she always knew she wanted. Since graduating from the college Helene has continued to flourish within her career and personal life. Helene was the former managing editor at Libelle which is the largest women’s weekly magazine in the Netherlands. After making her mark at the weekly magazine, Helene was headhunted for her now role as editor for Kek Mama a lifestyle magazine brand. Helene tells all about her career in magazines.
CNC: A little bit of background about you and where your interest in media comes from?
HVS: Since I was a little girl, I have loved magazines. I remember always being so happy when the mailman would bring me my favourite magazines each week. I taught myself how to type on my dad’s computer and started writing little stories. After high school, I knew right away I wanted to study Journalism. A career in the magazine industry was my dream.
CNC: What was your role as Managing Editor like with Libelle.nl & Libelle TV?
HVS: As managing editor at Libelle, the largest women’s weekly magazine in the Netherlands, I was responsible for the news and lifestyle website Libelle.nl and the online video platform Libelle TV. In a few years, the online platform grew into being the largest online women’s platform in the Netherlands, with 3 million unique visitors each month.
CNC: Tell us about Kek Mama – who is the magazine aimed at, what is exciting about this title and is it the leader in the lifestyle market?
HSV: Kek Mama is a lifestyle magazine brand in the Netherlands, for “fun women who are mums”. The magazine and website are aimed at mothers with children aged from 0 to 12 years old.
CNC: Did you decide on the change or was it an opportunity that came up at Sanoma Media?
HSV: I was headhunter for my role at Sanoma Media, which was a great honour. I was immediately excited, as it is such an amazing opportunity within a fantastic team, and the magazine brand is such a perfect fit for me, as the mother of twin boys Milo and Oliver (1).
CNC: Do you think your time at the College has enhanced your career progression?
I am sure my time at the Condé Nast College has enhanced my career progression. It’s an experience that stands out on my resume and I’m always asked about it during (job) interviews.
CNC: Is there a piece of advice that you gained at the CN College you use in your work every day? Or do you have any advice you would like to pass on to the students who are about to enter the world of work?
HSV: I remember a great piece of advice from Frances Bentley, the former managing editor of British Vogue. She inspires her team to work hard and be committed to the magazine, but to also make sure they have a life outside the office. Because that’s where you get inspired: at the theatre, in the cinema, while talking to friends, while reading a book, or while travelling abroad.
My advice to students is to follow your heart and dreams. If you do what you love, a work day never feels like a day of work. And ask someone in your work field who you admire, to be your coach or mentor: someone who knows his or her way in the world of work and can give you career advice.
Written By Abigail Alder