Collaboration, diversity, courage
Isabel Martinez, Head of the Finance and Marketing department, Autonomous University of Madrid welcomed about 120 women to discuss the values that drive them in their careers and in their lives.
On the panel were Julia Graham as moderator, Nadia Cote, Country President France, Chubb, Véronique Brionne, Country President Spain & Portugal, Chubb and Wilma de Bruijn, General Manager, Eurapco.
Values identify who we are and give us a sense of purpose, they give us energy and keep us rooted, said Isabel Martinez. Integrity and honesty are core values that steer your behaviour and keep you focused.
Nadia Cote explained that she uses a collaborative management style where she appreciates diversity on all levels. As a woman, she believes that she is part of that diversity to start with. Emotional intelligence and strong interpersonal skills are qualities that are often more related to women than men, so they can help to build balance at all levels, including at the board. Emotional intelligence empowers a team and should be a characteristic of any charismatic leader.
Véronique Brionne also pointed out that as a woman, a manager, a mother and a wife she had to reconcile her priorities, learn to multitask, specialise in synthesising and always carry spare batteries for her indispensable iPhone.
Wilma de Bruijn shared a very moving and personal incident that was life-changing for her: a serious accident at a young age that threatened to overthrow all her dreams. However, thanks to her willpower she turned this event into a real opportunity and the best learning experience of her life. Being courageous is a quality that can never be over-estimated. Surprising your superiors – which takes them out of their comfort zone – is one of her strategies to success.
There were several take-aways for the audience. Véronique said to look at successful women for advice. Don’t wait for someone else to make your decisions, know what you want and go for it, learn to say no, be a risk-taker, have a short recovery time and develop a strong personal brand.
Wilma insisted that you should look for a person with whom to share your vulnerability, who can help you proceed and succeed.
Nadia added that you need to stretch yourself to the next position, that a career is not a straight line and that each step you take should be with a clear goal in mind.
Sometimes, Julia stated, a company’s values are not in line with your own. How can you deal with that? Wilma insisted that you should always challenge your superiors and ask them why they expect certain things from you. Making mistakes is the best way to learn, and sharing these failures with others will make them appreciate you more. Listening to your inner voice, identifying how vulnerable you are and reconnecting with yourself can help to make you move forward.
During the Q&A it was clear that many ladies felt the same and were happy to share their stories of both difficulties and success.
Finally, we were sent off with the parable of the fox and the hedgehog, devised by Mr A. Berlin, where the former stands for the clever individual with ever changing strategies and the latter for the passionate believer in a clear vision. We can think this through and figure out what our hedgehog can do for us when the foxes are prowling.