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Top Learnings of Power Ladies Breakfasts (Part 1)

March 17, 2021

It's Women’s History Month 2021! We reflect on learnings from experienced women leaders and change-makers in our community on hiring for an inclusive culture, self-compassion, resilience and vulnerability.

Since 2019, NewCampus has hosted Power Ladies Breakfasts, a series of group mentoring sessions led by experienced women leaders and change-makers who share their career journeys and industry insights with other women in our community.

To commemorate Women’s History Month 2021, we’re taking a look back at some of our favourite bits of wisdom from power ladies from the past year.

Ming Chen (Education First): hiring for an inclusive culture

Ming Chen is Chief Culture Officer at Education First (EF), the world’s largest privately held international education company that focuses on language training and learning through cultural exchanges.

From personal experience, Ming found that women typically leave the workforce by the time they reach 40 years old, and that there’s a natural attrition, no matter which sector it is.What we need to do, Ming believes, is to create environments that make it easier for women to return to the workforce, such as “returnships” that help people ease into their careers after a break.

Still, some hiring managers might harbour gender biases against women (even if unconsciously). To remedy this, Ming suggests finding champions of change within the team: “Find allies within your organisation who can support you in challenging people's gender biases.”

Additionally, Ming recommends that we advocate for hiring practices that remove gender biases in the process, such as using blind CVs or resumes that don’t reveal an applicant’s gender.

“Find allies within your organisation who can support you in challenging people's gender biases.”

Leanne Robers (She Loves Tech): building leadership through self-compassion

At 25, Leanne Robers was promoted to become a manager for Siemens UK, where she was assigned to manage a group of white, male engineers who had far more experience than she did.

The gap in work experience made her feel that she was incapable of leading the team and left her feeling imposter syndrome, an experience that many working women face.

While Leanne’s creeping sense of self-doubt had a negative impact on her at first, learning self-compassion ended up being crucial to how she built her own voice and became a respected leader. It also helped her reframe her weaknesses into strengths—her so-called inexperience could actually give the team she led much-needed fresh perspectives, she recalled.

“Women being comfortable with and having compassion toward themselves can be incredibly powerful,” says Leanne.

Realising how tough it was for women leaders to get support and grow in their careers, it motivated Leanne to co-found She Loves Tech, the world’s largest startup competition for women to build tech companies. 

Since then, She Loves Tech has helped women in 30 countries break into tech, and exemplifies the power of women supporting each other in achieving their goals.

Asha Phillips (CrowdTangle): resiliency through vulnerability

Asha Phillips used to be a journalist at CNN and a sales and business strategist at Storytel. Now she leads partnerships at CrowdTangle, a Facebook tool that helps media outlets measure performance of their content.

During her breakfast session, Asha shared that nothing has taught her more about being a leader than when she became a first-time mother during the start of a global pandemic. She discussed how people often underestimate the power of embracing vulnerability, and its role in building resilience.

Often, leadership has been defined by masculine traits—being bold, assertive—while feminine-coded traits such as being vulnerable and empathetic have been glossed over or discarded.

But for Asha, the foundations in building resilience begins with embracing failure and vulnerability. While many leaders might find vulnerability to be embarrassing, Asha sees it as an avenue for us to learn from uncertainty and our discomforts.

“Discomfort and learning go hand-in-hand, and learning new skills on the go, being willing to fail and get back up again are the most important,” says Asha.

Join the community

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.

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