Thaima Samman has been one of the women running the Women in Leadership initiative since its inception in 2008.
She had the knowledge and the drive to found an NGO since setting up the French SOS Racisme NGO at the beginning of her career. She has a 10 years of experience in the political cabinet of Claude Bartolone MP and former member of government and in two renowned French law firms. An added experience in the corporate affairs world, first in Philip Morris, then in Microsoft, taught her the importance of building partnerships to advance new ideas and implement them at a societal scale. When faced with the challenges of the society at large – skills gap, leadership talent shortage, gender gap - the idea of creating a platform for women to connect and learn ways to advance in their career came as the natural thing to do.
In two years time, more than 100 women across Europe joined the WiL network. Now, it is a large pool of talented leaders who share high quality information and set up professional relationships. But as this platform for partnership grows steadily, it is important to have a structure that allows every member to reach their personal objectives as well. The interview with Thaima takes a more in depth look into WiL’s purpose.
Why was WIL needed in the European environment?
We need to have more platforms such as WIL where active women meet to exchange on a broad range of ideas and initiatives. Our members are very successful in their work area and feel the need to extend their achievements, which means broadening their network and understanding, get validation and ultimately learn about and support other socio-professional spheres.
Which partnerships is WIL depending on?
It is important to be in close contact with other professional networks, as it would not make any sense for any women’s network to be exclusive. We are more than happy to collaborate with others to increase the impact of what we are doing and support other’s priorities. I’m thrilled that we are one of the partners of the US based Global WIN association, to have the Women’s Forum as a founding partner or to participate to the Women Equity for Growthinitiative. There are too few networks embracing EU27 jurisdiction as they focus on particular topics or geographies, but we are all pushing forward the message of empowering women and we can find ways to cooperate, as we did before. Then, it would be a pity not to build connections with public institutions that have gender equality concerns in their genes. With their support, we can raise the awareness of the need for talented female leaders in all sectors of work.
What can a WIL member take away from this network?
In our previous meetings, we have seen partnerships set up between women who met for the first time and who discovered they had similar interests. Being part of a network embracing all EU27 is the biggest take-away. It would be a pity not to take advantage of it.
Where do you see the association in the next 2 years?
If more highly qualified women are willing to join us, together we can positively influence European society in the coming years. This means offering new opportunities not just for our members, but also for younger women, such as those who are part of our mentoring program or the women who have the potential to take the lead in the next 10 years in the private or public spheres and who will need our strong support.
What do you like the mostly about WIL?
We have built a place that active women across Europe enjoy, a network that they own and that they can use according to their own social or professional agenda. The meetings are a breath of fresh air twice a year, nonetheless and enjoyable, for those of us who wish to develop their career prospects.