To close up our celebration of Women's History Month 2021, we're featuring three more remarkable women who've inspired us in the past year with their wisdom and stories during NC Power Ladies Breakfasts.
Learning from the risks we take and the failures we’ve experienced is one of the ways many startups nurture great leaders. Yet according to a survey from KPMG, women aren’t particularly comfortable with this idea.
Christian Ballard, Talent Manager at B Capital Group, wanted to help her female audience address this discomfort toward risk-taking, by sharing how she weighed risks that helped her land a job that gave her purpose and fulfilment.
As Christian shared, her own self-doubt was something she struggled when she was offered her current position at B Capital. After heading recruitment at Hubspot for seven years, she wondered if she was capable enough to move into this new position. In the end, despite her doubts, she said ‘yes’, which landed her what she now describes as her dream job.
For Christian, it’s all about putting ourselves out there, taking risks that challenge ourselves and prioritising learning from our experiences. “Being ready to learn and prioritising learning doesn't have to be professional learning,” Christain said. “We grow personally as well when we take those little risks, like saying ‘yes’ to a job offer even if you feel you’re not quite ready.”
Having women hold top leadership positions is crucial to address gender equality, but as some women leaders argue, it isn’t enough. Instead, we ought to work on gender balance at each level of organisations, from both top-to-bottom and bottom-to-top. How can we advocate for this kind of equality at all levels?
Anita Varshney, Global Vice President for Sustainability Strategy at SAP, believes that democratising purpose is the way to go. The best-run teams are made when you tap into the signature strengths of individual team members, regardless of position, and allow them to contribute in ways that make them feel empowered.
Anita found that by fostering an environment that welcomes diverse input, even often-overlooked employees like interns are able to contribute perspectives that are fresh and valuable to the company
“When you begin to recognise how others can align their purpose and experiences to the company, and when you start respecting them for their contributions,” Anita said, “you will open a whole new way of learning and development for them.”
Quoting the economist Mariana Mazzucato, Anita said that people can work hard so that the company makes big profits, but they may be unable to see that they, too, share in the wealth they’ve helped create.
A key struggle for equality for older women has traditionally been the ageism that rears its head in the workplace once they hit middle age (around their 40s), shared Carolyn Chin-Parry, who is the Digital Innovation Leader at PwC Singapore and is one of the leading tech executives in Asia.
In her session, she urged women to future-proof their careers to challenge notions of ageism. For starters, Carolyn strongly recommends becoming a lifelong learner with a growth mindset that actively participates in the constantly changing world we live in.
“Who knows what the world will evolve into with technological disruption always around the corner?” she said. “If we don't become lifelong learners, we will miss out on being part of that world.”
Carolyn also not only recommended mentoring the next generation of women leaders, but to participate in reverse mentoring too. In typical mentor-mentee relationships, the mentor has more seniority and experience over their mentee. But, in reverse mentoring, the relationship recognises skills gaps on both sides, and each person’s weaknesses can be addressed by the strengths of the other.
Carolyn adds: “It’s a two-way street. There's a lot that I can learn from young people—who hold different values and motivations—as much as I can learn from people who are older, more experienced than myself.”
If you’re looking for a way to connect with other smart and savvy women, we’d like to invite you to join our fortnightly Power Ladies Breakfasts. Sign up for a Lite Membership here and book your first Power Ladies Breakfast.