International Women’s Day

maart 12, 2017

Taylor Root is proud to be supporting International Women’s Day 2017. As part of this we interviewed some of our inspring female clients asking them how they have been bold for change #BeBoldForChange, in addition to interviewing Taylor Root’s very own leading women.

Sarah Ingwersen

Sarah Ingwersen, Partner in Taylor Root’s London office. Sarah heads up the Commerce and Industry team, and one of three female Partners at The SR Group.

What would your advice be to women who are trying to achieve their career ambitions? 
Find a mentor! (This is also recommended in Lean In). It doesn’t need to be a formal arrangement, but align yourself with a more senior woman in a similar industry or at least someone who understands the journey you are undertaking. I have had one for the past ten years (and she didn’t even know it until recently!) and we meet up regularly to discuss a whole range of issues, work and non-work related. I get a great deal of insight and guidance from her but I think if I had asked her to be my mentor from the start this would have put undue pressure on the situation.

How do you achieve work-life balance? 
1) Ruthlessly prioritise during my day job. I try and have short meetings, limit emails to a few lines (no-one likes long messages!) and deal with emails on the go so that (ideally!) everything is dealt with before I leave at the end of each day.

2) Be comfortable with saying ‘no’ (whilst trying to be as accommodating as possible!). It’s not physically possible to do everything in a shorter working day and by pushing back I have given myself more headspace to focus on the things that matter; my clients, my candidates and my team. The rest can wait!

3) Realise that family comes first and I’m not performing brain surgery. Our industry is often time critical so I will make myself available as much as possible out of hours but I have black-out periods that I am now comfortable about enforcing.

4) Choose the right company. I am extremely fortunate in that I work for a very supportive and parent-friendly company and have a great degree of flexibility since returning from maternity leave.

If senior management within your industry or sector is historically weighted towards males, have you noticed any changes in the last several years?
Yes absolutely. We have promoted two female partners within the past 12 months and have improved the ratio of female to male leaders at the Director and Manager level, which is a significant increase from a number of years ago. Our HR department have developed a successful mentoring scheme (for all consultants) and where possible we pair female consultants with other women in leadership positions within the business so they can share their knowledge and be a sounding board for issues outside of their day-to-day role. I also meet up with all women returning from maternity leave in their first month to help them transition back and let them know that whilst it’s an adjustment returning to normal working life, there is a support network there and an understanding in our company about the challenges of being a working parent.

Rachel Jacobs

Taylor Root interviewed Rachel Jacobs, General Counsel at Springer Nature

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I think there are many barriers and it is hard to single out one. However, I think that given the dominance of men in senior roles, the issue of unconscious bias has a key role to play in perpetuating the status quo. It is only when we take steps to understand how unconscious bias manifests itself, and how to overcome its detrimental effects, will we be able to create more diverse leadership groups where both genders work together in an inclusive team.

What advice would you give aspiring women in your industry? 
We are very lucky in the publishing industry to have many women working in the profession and some very inspiring women leaders. That said, like all industries, there continues to be a challenge in translating this into an appropriate representation of women at senior levels. There will need to be a continuation of various structural and cultural measures to address this phenomenon. But on an individual level, my advice to aspiring women would be: (i) concentrate on performing to the best of their ability as this is a prerequisite for success in any role; (ii) identify the skills required to progress to a senior level and be proactive about obtaining those skills; (iii) work with a mentor or sponsor to challenge and support you; and (iv) most importantly, to absolutely believe that you are capable of reaching your potential. I have never believed that I would not be welcome in any room on the basis of my gender. It may be a coincidence but (so far) I have not found that any doors have been closed to me…

How do you achieve work life balance? 
This is a constant challenge and I would not profess to have the answer, but here are three rules that help me:

  • Try to simplify your work and personal life as much as possible. There are so many demands on our time and it is all too easy for this to become unsustainable. To avoid scope creep and to stop things getting incrementally but inevitably out of balance, I take the time on a regular basis to review the various demands on my time and see how I can simplify things. I tend to do this quarterly and assess which things I should stop doing, which I should do differently (i.e. more efficiently), which I should delegate etc etc in order to simplify both my personal and professional life.
  • Be clear about what your unmoveable commitments are both at work and home and have the confidence to try to stick to them. There will be rare occasions when you can’t fit these things in, but if you are clear about these commitments and plan in advance there will often be a way to balance them. I have also found that the world does not end if take an hour out to attend a school play etc. It is important to have the confidence to take time for the things that are important to you, otherwise the lack of balance this creates will undermine your sense of wellbeing. If you are a strong performer professionally and are flexible enough to ensure that you deliver on your professional obligations (e.g. working late to make sure you meet a deadline if you have taken time out to attend a school play) you should not feel prohibited from taking a bit of time out. Conversely, if you are generally comfortable with the amount of time you spend with your family, putting work first on occasion should not upset the balance too much.
  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Be kind to yourself. It is not possible to be all things to all people all of the time. Think carefully about how you want to live your life from a holistic perspective taking work, family, and self into consideration. Once you know what you would like to achieve, you can work to put strategies in place to manage this – for me includes sharing commitments with my partner at home as we are both responsible for creating balance in our lives. But it is important to be clear about the compromises your choices will require and to be really honest with yourself about whether you are comfortable with them. If you are not you will never achieve the balance you seek.

Daniela Gardiner

Taylor Root interviewed Daniela Gardiner, General Manager, European Legal & International Affairs at Panasonic Europe Limited.

Do you have any secrets to having a successful career? 
In my opinion, the key to having a successful career is hard work and not being scared to take on new challenges!! I believe that being able to push yourself outside of your comfort zone is key, as well is learning from your mistakes but not dwelling on them.

How do you achieve work life balance? 
Great childcare! As a working mother getting the right childcare is key. Also, flexibility is key! Sometimes you will need to work late even if that means working from home, however, you must ensure you always leave the office on time and let people know, including senior management, of your working pattern so as to manage their expectations. Also, as a parent, always ensuring you leave on time to pick up children and always being there at bedtime for stories is key for me to achieving work life balance. Using technology – you can VC even at home if you have the right technology!

Who inspires you and why? 
Amal Clooney. She is hugely successful in her work, she fights for justice and human rights and her ethical stance is inspiring. The fact she is now going to have a family just adds to her credentials!

Nicoletta Ravida

We interviewed Nicoletta Ravida, Head of Southern Europe, Taylor Root.

Do you have any secrets to having a successful career? 
Being passionate about what I do, solution orientated, creative and positive thinking.

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership? 
Two matters in my view can be a barrier to female leadership: the lack, in some women, of self-confidence and having children. Children inevitably will take away some time and energy from a women’s work day therefore female’s must be lucky to find a work environment that will not put them in a position to choose between a successful career and motherhood. Lack of self-confidence is something women tend to carry with them as a result of a mixture of cultural and social issues.

I personally have only had positive experiences in terms of work environment and building my confidence, but I see this being an issue for many women around me.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you in the workplace? 
Appreciate that motherhood is important and should not be seen as an alternative to a successful career.

What would your advice be to women who are trying to achieve their career ambitions? 
Do not give up on your principles and ideals (by becoming aggressive, over competitive, give up on ethics); be tenacious and consistent.

How do you achieve work life balance? 
Knowing how to prioritise.

What were the main drivers in helping you succeed in your career? 
Having a number of male characters around me who supported and believed in me.

What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring others? 
Leadership: never do to your team what you would not like someone else do to you! 
Entrepreneurship: it requires a lot of energy, guts and positive thinking. 
Mentoring: this is very rewarding and something I enjoy very much.

Kirstin McFetridge

We interviewed with Kristin McFetridge, Chief Counsel, Portfolio Products and Standards, BT Legal.

How do you achieve work-life balance?
I think it is critical that we are clear in ourselves what our priorities are and set boundaries to protect those priorities, while remaining fluid around flexing those boundaries when required by making a trade elsewhere/at another time. For example, it is critical for me to be healthy in body and mind, so I spend time every day practicing mindfulness and exercise through yoga, running or other activities. If I am particularly busy on a day and am unable to get to the gym or get home in time to unwind, I will review my calendar for the next few days to see where I can delay or cut other areas of important/not-urgent or not important/not urgent meetings or activities, so that I can be sure to balance out my week. To be able to do this effectively, you have to know your priorities so you can identify what has to come first for you as well as what that those important/not urgent or not important/not urgent matters are.

What were the main drivers in helping you succeed in your career?
It sounds trite, but embracing my failures and using them as an opportunity to self-reflect and make necessary changes. I have grown the most when things didn’t turn out as I had hoped, because I had the humility to examine the outcome and the clarity to see the potential changes and learnings.

What would your advice be to women who are trying to achieve their career ambitions?
Don’t let anyone else tell you what you CAN’T do – you might not be able to do anything and everything you want, but let that be because you decided you didn’t want to make the sacrifices or changes necessary, not because someone else let you believe it was beyond you. If you want to be a CEO, change careers, go back to school, go work in another country or achieve anything else and you are determined to do it, then be relentless.

Ellie Browne 

Taylor Root interviewed Ellie Browne, VP Legal Affairs at Turner Broadcasting System Europe.

Do you have any secrets to having a successful career? 
There is no definitive answer to the “secrets” of success varies as it varies from person to person. However, from my experience the main factors in order to have a successful career are having self-belief, a sense of humour and integrity.

What advice would you give aspiring women in your industry? 
My advice would be to speak up and make sure your opinion is heard. The experiences we go through, in both our career and personal life, shape our opinions and increase our knowledge, so why not share this? Everyone’s opinion, knowledge and experience are as valid as everyone else’s.

How do you achieve work life balance?
For me, the best way to achieve work life balance is to focus your energy on the task at hand, be it work or home and try not to worry about one when you are focusing on the other. Acknowledge that no one can do everything and do not be afraid to seek assistance or clarification if needed.

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