Who am I

foto Heleen BrinkmanHeleen Brinkman (Singapore, 1962), founder of Woman What's Up.

I’m a bilingual moderator and coach (Dutch, English) fascinated with communication and behaviour. My international background was the root of that. I lived in Sydney, Australia until I was 7, after which I moved house a lot. These circumstances made me flexible to adapt to different languages and cultures. It has also put me on the side: I preferred to be an observer rather than a participant of life. The advantage of observing is that it sharpenend my attention and made me sensitive to what is said between the lines. The downside was that I blended into the background. 

At a certain moment it worked against me. I stopped developing in my work and my relationships broke up, simply because I failed to take the lead. Respectful Confrontation helped me to do just that. Take the Lead! My self-confidence has grown, my relations are still deepening and I take enormous pleasure in my work. What helped me may help you.

Women and leadership

With Woman What's Up I focus on women and leadership specifically because it touches me personally. I am an educated woman who did not live to my full potential. Because I didn’t know how, I was afraid to and I didn’t want to offend anyone. I see a lot of women doing exactly the same things. What a waste! This is, in my opinion, one of the reasons why women still earn less than men, why women are a minority in top positions, why women content themselves with unchallenging jobs. Constraining yourself leads to disappointment, frustration, depression and (passive) aggression.

Using theatre exercises I give women the freedom to experiment with behaviour. From that experience they distil what personally works for them. I have integrated several methods of development. What works is what counts!


I graduated in English Language and Literature in 1987. I studied Theatre at De Trap en Het Collectief in Amsterdam from 1992-1995. Since 1989 I have worked as an actor/moderator in communication training sessions. I’m acquainted with a variety of corporate cultures ranging from multinationals, finance, health care, academic education to public administration and businesses. Due to my extensive travelling in China, Russia, Central Asia and Indonesia I feel comfortable working in and with different cultures. No matter what professional or cultural background you have, I will manage to connect with you.

My unique quality is that I am inviting and that I confront with compassion. Thus I offer you a safe place to wander deeper into the woods of discomfort, the very premisse for growth.

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Mission and vision

The mission of Woman What's Up is to empower women to take the lead. What is needed is the courage to take an honest look at yourself. That is at times hard and painful. If you venture on that journey, you will start to grow. Woman What's Up is like a companion on your way to leadership. She knows the terrain, not exactly the route. On the go she will support you, urge you on, give you space, confront and push you to bring out the best in you.

It's the vision of Woman What's Up that women will change the world. Women leaders will stand up and offer solutions to oppression, war and ruthless profit. Building on values of vulnerability and connectedness, women can find a way of respectful engagement with each other and their surroundings. We are in the lead. Let’s take it!