Anne de Kerckhove: Celebrating my Anniversary as Freespee CEO on International Women’s Day

Anne de Kerckhove_Freespee CEO

As an active promoter of women in leadership roles, celebrating my work anniversary at Freespee is particularly meaningful as I started my tenure of CEO on International Women’s Day. What a year it turned out to be!

Freespee grew by over 58% in terms of top-line revenue with fantastic brands across Europe. We grew the team across Sweden and London hiring so many brilliant, interesting, quirky people. Each person who works at Freespee has a unique history, unique passions and unique talents. Some are great musicians, others body builders, some are ex-skiing champions, other great cooks. Most have travelled the world and explored different cultures. The more I get to know my teams, the more I discover their great unique stories and journeys. Two passions tend to bring us together: a love of discovery and innovation.

I tried to push the topic of diversity of gender, backgrounds and nationalities every day.  I push our Freespee teams to let go of their boundaries, their fears, their pre-conceived notions of other people to become one unified team, in love with its diversity. With over 15 nationalities across the company, we don’t shy away from discussing the particularities of each country. We talk about them openly and laugh about our differences.

Beyond my work at Freespee, I mentored 8 women towards the next step in their career through the INSEAD mentoring program, amongst others and I invested in 3 companies with female co-founders.

As a speaker at many conferences, I push audiences to explore their desire to take risk, to create change, to build new different teams. I often talk about the taboos most people shy away from.

As I reflect on the year gone past, I wonder: have I done enough? Am I having impact? Am I creating change?

Society still has so many stereotypes, so many pre-conceived notions about our roles as men and women in society, about what is acceptable.

One of the most telling moments for me this year took place in September. I was a guest speaker in Paris at a conference for Les Sommets du Digital. Half an hour before my speech, I broke the zipper of my trousers. It was annoying but I certainly was not going to let it ruin my night.

 I tried to hide the issue with a long flowing top but I am a very animated speaker and within 30 seconds of my speech starting, everybody in the room could tell my zipper was undone. A sea of panic hit the audience and I could feel it sweep across the room. As I finished the speech, I explained to the crowd that my zipper had broken, that I was aware of it and laughed about the joys of speaking on stage and managing the unexpected. The crowd immediately sighed of relief and joined me in laughing about how uncomfortable the situation had made them feel. Together, we had almost let a tiny piece of metal take over this conference and our shared experience!

We need to see past our differences and learn to let go! We must learn to see beyond appearances and learn to truly see the people that surround us. We must focus on positive impact in everything we do.

In a time of political uncertainty, of conflict and social media manipulation, it is more important than ever to take a deeper look and to see past the superficialities.

Despite some good progress it is frustrating that in 2019 we are still talking about the challenges of building equality in the workplace.

The truth is change won’t just happen because we want; tech leaders – men and women – must keep pushing for it on a daily basis.

A Brief Explanation Of PBX (Private Branch Exchange)


The demands on voice platforms by today’s business community are hefty, they include greater flexibility in order to grow with the large pools of customer data streaming in and out of contact centres and the ability to use this data to both improve customer experience and predict customer behaviour. Existing systems, like PBX, have alot of growing to do.

On-Premise PBX vs Cloud PBX vs Hosted PBX

Originally, PBX (Private Branch Exchange) was created as a telephone switching system handling multiple phones and calls coming into an enterprise, eventually, it evolved to an IP-PBX which uses a wide or local area data network to manage calls coming over both the internet and circuit telephony.

Now, PBX falls under several categories; traditional, on-premise PBX, cloud PBX and Hosted PBX.


Hosted PBX is cloud-based, usually managed by a third-party PBX provider who maintains and updates the system.


On-premise PBX is hardware managed on the company site and can integrate with its CRM system (customer relationship management). Its perfect for bigger enterprises that can handle the amount of infrastructure and bandwidth required.


Cloud PBX is still a fairly new concept, while a hosted PBX uses a physical off-site server managed by a third party provider, cloud PBX has no such thing. It uses the cloud to store data and is a scalable system.

The Future of PBX

With businesses more focused on digital transformation and omnichannel strategies, the future of PBX sees it moving firmly into the cloud space and away from a reliance on physical servers. Some see PBX evolving into a middleman format, “In the long term, I think the industry will stop thinking about the PBX as a closed system and instead see it as a set of open platforms that work together to deliver the necessary functionality,” said Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst at ZK Research.

Via: Tech Target

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