Agathe Delouvrier, Economic Development Consultant at BPI, is passionate about skills development. In both her professional and personal life, she has successfully used her knowledge and skills to help others grow and develop. This month, she shared with us more about her work at BPI, her views on leadership development, professional integration of young people, and critical skills for the jobs of the future. Read the interview to find out more!
Let me give you a specific example: we recently designed a training program for the managers in the non-profit sector who are involved in job market integration of people who have been out of the workforce for a long-time. My team has trained them and helped them develop a sustainable business plan!
The participation in the WTP programme was our first proactive initiative that involved a third party. I feel very grateful for being able to join this programme.
Other than that, a group of young BPI employees recently launched a groundbreaking initiative for young leaders. They launched a shadow Executive Committee for young BPI employees (30-35 years old) that enables them to contribute to the decision-making process of the company and allows them to develop their leadership skills.
We launched a shadow Executive Committee for
young BPI employees (30-35 years old) that enables them
to contribute to the decision-making process of the company
and allows them to develop their leadership skills.
You have launched your own initiative to support the professional orientation and youth integration, called "Mon Projet". What are the main challenges young people are experiencing in France when integrating the job market?
France is currently experiencing deep social and economic inequalities and our existing education system reproduces these inequalities. The main challenge faced by young people is the lack of network and soft skills. All in all, it is the social capital and soft skills that get people jobs nowadays!
We have met many young people who are given no career advice and support. This made us realize that there was a big skills gap that needed to be closed! On the one hand, there are young people who do not understand how they can contribute to the professional world. On the other, there are companies that cannot find the talent they need.
This is why my friend and I decided to launch a project that would address this challenge by helping young people develop their soft skills and make them understand the professional world. We have designed workshops for secondary school (collège) children as well as some special programs for school dropouts and children from underprivileged backgrounds. Through our workshops, we encourage children to reflect on their own skills and personal qualities and match them with existing jobs.
The main challenge faced by young people
is the lack of network and soft skills.
The world of work is changing rapidly. How can we prepare young people for the jobs that do not yet exist?
You cannot base your future professional integration on your technical skills alone since many of them will become obsolete or are not yet known. Instead, it is crucial to develop your soft skills, mainly adaptability, critical thinking, learning capacity, and the ability to take initiative. In order to succeed in this rapidly changing professional world, young people will need to know how to adapt to these changes.
You cannot base your future professional integration
on your technical skills alone
since many of them will become obsolete or are not yet known.
You are currently participating in our WTP programme. What is your main takeaway from the programme and how do you think you can transfer the knowledge you have acquired to the young people you work with?
The WTP programme has given me the opportunity to meet
many inspiring people
I would have never met otherwise.
At WIL, we have the tradition of concluding the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following question for you: What is your most marked characteristic and why do you think it has helped you in your career?
It is crucial for leaders to understandwhere they can have an impact andhow they can contribute in a relevant way.
How did Microsoft prepare for the GDPR? Is Artificial Intelligence threatening the legal profession? This month, we had the chance to talk to Fozia Jabbar, Head of Legal at Microsoft Denmark, who talked to us about her work at Microsoft, her views on female leadership, the future impact of technology on the legal profession, and much more. If you are curious to learn more about in the intersection of law and technology, this is a great interview to read!
In order to be a good leader, it is important to constantly grow your skills and build a network of like-minded people. Life-long learning is crucial for leadership development and the WTP programme provides a safe place for women leaders to learn and grow.
I like the variety of the learning opportunities available. They range from workshops, speaking opportunities, to networking sessions. The programme also encouraged me to reflect on different topics that are not part of my everyday work. To be able to discuss topics like digital transformation and artificial intelligence with participants who do not have a legal background is an intellectually enriching experience as it gives you a different perspective on the issue. On top of that, I have managed to build meaningful relationships with other participants!
Life-long learning is crucial for leadership development
and the WTP programme provides a safe place for
women leaders to learn and grow.
The GDPR is an important step forward for individual privacy rights. At Microsoft, we have been very supportive of the GDPR ever since it was first proposed in 2012. I also believe that May 25th, 2017 does not represent the end of our work, but rather the beginning of a new era.
At Microsoft, we have always been focusing on creating products and services that help other businesses drive their success. This is at the heart of our business model! In terms of our preparation for the GDPR, we have been creating and developing tools and guidance for our customers to make them compliant. We always make sure that our customers buy products that are in compliance with existing standards and regulations. However, the actual compliance is up to the final users of our products. It is not something we can do for them.
We always make sure that our customers buy products
that are in compliance with
existing standards and regulations.
How do you imagine Artificial Intelligence (AI) changing the job of IT lawyers in the future?
AI is already transforming the legal profession! It can have a positive impact on the legal work since it is much better at performing certain routine tasks: especially sifting through lengthy documents, searching for examples, looking for relevant passages, and doing other administrative tasks. It will not replace lawyers but rather make our work more interesting by automating some administrative tasks and allowing us to focus on more complex and intellectually challenging work. In the end, you still need a lawyer to make the final assessment.
AI will not replace lawyers but rather make our work more interesting
by automating some administrative tasks and
allowing us to focus on
more complex and intellectually challenging work.
At WIL, we have the tradition of concluding the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following question for you: What is your motto?
Nothing is impossible, the impossible just takes longer!
To read more about Fozia, have a look at her biography!
How does it feel to be a woman working in a leading STEM firm? Patricia Nuñez, SMB and Channel Manager at Lenovo Iberia, shared with us her experience of working at Lenovo. She also talked to us about her ideas on how to attract more women into STEM careers and shared some of Lenovo’s best practices. To find out more, read our interview!
What inspired you to study telecommunications engineering? How can we make this field more attractive for women?
When I was young, I wanted to do something unconventional and I had a strong interest in innovation and the latest technologies. The telecommunications industry offers many opportunities for disruptive innovations and that is what attracted me.
To make this field more attractive to women, we should start by changing stereotypes about career choices, which exist from very early on. Schools can play an important role in making children understand that there are no careers reserved for women and that women can also pursue these technical studies. School children should know that there are many doors open to them. If girls want to be engineers, they can be engineers. This also means that engineering schools and universities should create a welcoming and conducive environment for girls.
School children should know
that there are many doors open to them.
If girls want to be engineers, they can be engineers.
Lenovo is a partner of our Woman Talent Pool programme (WTP) Lenovo and has launched several initiatives to foster gender equality, such as the Women at Lenovo EMEA digital hiring campaign in 2016. How would you assess your experience of working there as a woman? Could you share with us some of the best practices you have noticed?
My experience has been fantastic! There are so many opportunities available! Gender equality is a hot topic at Lenovo and I am pleased to say that there is a big internal push to make a lasting change and that everyone is supportive of various gender equality initiatives we are currently involved in. For example, we regularly publish internal statistics assessing gender diversity within different teams. We also organize women in leadership breakfast debates, where key women in the organization share best practices.
If you are capable of doing it, why would you not do it? I think this is the mentality we have here at Lenovo. My own team is quite diverse! We have approximately the same number of women and men. It is not because I am looking for women or for men specifically. Above all, I am looking for talent, for a person who has relevant skills and who is going to fit well into the team.
If you are capable of doing it,
why would you not do it?
I think this is the mentality we have here at Lenovo.
What are the benefits of having diverse teams in the IT sector?
Diversity is key to success! We live in an incredibly complex environment that requires us to coordinate across business and cultural needs. It is thus very important to have people from different backgrounds, with various experiences and perspectives. If a company has several employees thinking the same way, it will never progress. You need diverse teams (in terms of gender, age, origins…) to improve your performance and be able to think out of the box! This is especially crucial when a difficult decision is to be made or when you have a new problem to solve.
If a company has several employees thinking the same way,
it will never progress.
You need diverse teams to improve your performance
and be able to think out of the box!
Lenovo manufactures one of the world’s widest portfolio of connected products. What is the key to your success? Can you tell us more about your channel strategy?
Our company does not sell products directly to end customers. Instead, we sell our products to our distribution channel.
We are succeeding and growing fast thanks to our channel strategy. We do not compete with the channel, we complement it! 95% of our business goes through the channel. This means that when we grow, the channel grows with us. We are a company that has a very competitive channel program, and this is key for our partners.
Finally, our departments are like small companies. When making a decision, I always ask myself the following: if the company was mine, would I do it? We are very close to our channel and this is what makes us unique!
We are very close to our channel
and this is what makes us different!
At WIL, we usually conclude our interviews with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following question for you: What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Being pragmatic and results-oriented! When you work in a sales team, this is something that must become part of your DNA. If you have a goal, you need to achieve it. It is overrated because it is expected. On the one hand, you need to be results-driven if you want to perform, on the other, it is what everyone is expecting from you.
To read more about Patricia, have a look at her biography!
Christelle Cuenin, Associate Director at INSEAD, has dedicated her career to helping others grow, reach their full potential, and achieve impact. In this interview, she talked to us about her recent TED talk in Grenoble on redefining our perception of obstacles, her work at INSEAD, and shared her views on the skills of the future. Read the interview to find out more!
Earlier this month, you participated at TEDxGEM in Grenoble. What inspired you to give a TED talk and what message did you want to send across?
Public speaking has been a passion of mine for a long time. I joined Toastmasters 12 years ago, and I have enjoyed developing my skills through speech contests and improvisational theatre and learning to create speeches and to deliver them with impact. The popular TEDx format is appealing to me because as a speaker it forces you to think about what important message you want to share with your audience, and to do it in the most compelling way.
I was thrilled to be selected to participate in this TEDx event at my Alma Mater Grenoble Ecole de Management. The overall theme was “Beyond Boundaries” and the purpose of my talk was to redefine our perception of obstacles. I wanted to show the audience that roadblocks we face in our lives and careers, can help us progress. To bring my message across, I drew the parallel with motorcycle-riding and added a few funny anecdotes from when I was getting my driving license. Over the last few years, I have been helping and coaching many speakers for TEDx events and conferences, so this time I experienced it from the ‘other side’! Delivering a TEDx talk was an amazing experience!
The popular TEDx format forces you to think about what important message you want to share with your audience,
and to do it in the most compelling way.
You have been working at INSEAD since 2011. Your work has been focusing on transferring your skills and helping others achieve professional fulfilment and impact. What do you think will be the most important skills for business leaders to possess in the 4th industrial revolution?
INSEAD is an amazing place for business leaders to develop new skills. I have had the privilege of seeing individuals transformed by their experience here when I was working in the Career Centre with MBA students and helping them advance their career. Nowadays, I interact with successful alumni who wish to create impact through philanthropy and I help them doing so through INSEAD.
From what I have observed working here and interacting with many of our alumni who are leading global organisations, successful leaders need to master the following:
Soft skills: in fact, during my TEDx talk I mentioned the recent results of the Skills Gap survey led and published by the Financial Times (“What top employers want from MBA graduates”). Drive and resilience are among most difficult skills to find. Hence, it seems key to develop these skills as a competitive advantage.
Lifelong learning: eagerness to develop and continuously challenge oneself. At INSEAD, we are continuously expanding our alumni programme to ensure they have access to resources that help them stay on top of trends.
Public speaking: perhaps the most important for me. I think every business leader needs to be ready to address an audience and make a difference. It takes work and this is something you need to dedicate time to. The ability to communicate with impact and authenticity is a game changer for one’s career.
Successful leaders need to master soft skills,
lifelong learning, and public speaking.
The ability to communicate with impact and authenticity
is a game changer for one’s career.
You have also been actively involved in the field of Corporate Philanthropy. Why is it important for companies to engage in philanthropic projects? How can companies align their social, environmental, and business goals?
One of my past roles at INSEAD involved creating impactful partnerships with corporations looking to support Higher Education through philanthropy. Many companies have been involved in these programmes at our school. Our common vision is the will to educate business leaders to conduct business responsibly. We see that values and norms are changing and that business and social goals need to be more aligned. This is why we have recently launched our Force for Good campaign. One of our key initiatives was the creation of the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society, an institute dedicated to conducting research, teaching how companies can align these goals, and raising awareness about these changing norms and values. I now work with individuals who wish to create impact and change the world through philanthropy in Business Education and INSEAD is a powerful catalyst for that. With more than 57,000 INSEAD alumni in 175 countries around the globe, INSEAD has a role to play in transforming the world for the better.
With more than 57,000 INSEAD alumni in 175 countries around the globe,
INSEAD has a role to playin transforming the world for the better.
INSEAD, our Associate Partner, was one of the first business schools in the world to admit women to its MBA programme and has been actively championing gender equality in the past years. What are the main challenges female students are facing in business schools and how are your programmes addressing these issues?
Diversity is one of the key values at INSEAD, and promoting Gender Diversity in and beyond our programmes has been a key area for us for a long time. This past academic year, we held many events focusing on IW50, the celebration of the 50th anniversary of female participants’ presence in the MBA programme. This initiative celebrated the past, present, and future of women at INSEAD and was led along with increased research and awareness activities on Gender Equality. We equip students with a strong support network: for example, we have a very active Women in Business club on campus and our UK Alumni Association has set up a fantastic mentoring programme. However, we also want to make it inclusive and we are offering Executive Education opportunities for everyone who wishes to drive the gender diversity agenda in their organization. We have recently opened an online INSEAD Gender Diversity Programme providing the understanding, concepts, and tools that enable participants to develop a strategic and practical plan to reach gender balance in an organization.
You are currently participating in our Women Talent Pool (WTP) programme. Why do you think it is important to constantly improve your skills?
Being part of the WIL’s WTP programme has been an amazing opportunity. It has helped me develop creativity, skills, and expand my network. I think the programme is relevant to continuous adapting and learning. I have come back from our conferences and interactions with a new way of looking at things: hearing perspectives from other participants in different industries has helped me think more creatively about my role. It also gave me the ability to dare and experiment more. Finally, being part of the WTP has allowed me to connect with peers and we have enjoyed sharing each other’s experiences. Creativity, skills, and connections are helping us manage our careers and eventually become better leaders.
At WIL, we have the tradition of concluding the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following question for you: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I was fortunate to meet very inspiring people at the time when I was looking for a career change and transition to the Higher Education sector, after having spent several years in the Telecom & Tech sectors. Changing industries and taking on a very different role felt a bit like a leap of faith at the time. However, looking back, I am extremely happy to have taken that brave and bold step to find a job I am passionate about and an amazing institution to work for.
Looking back, I am extremely happy to have taken that brave and bold step to find a job I am passionate about and an amazing institution to work for.
To read more about Christelle, have a look at her biography!
How do we promote women STEM leadership amongst youth? What is the role of Artificial Intelligence in addressing environmental changes? We had the chance to discuss these topics with Montserrat Pardo, an active participant in our Women Talent Pool Programme and Government Affairs Director at Microsoft! If you are curious to know more about it, read our interview with Montserrat!
Could you tell us what is your favourite part of your job at Microsoft?
Joining Microsoft was a turning point in my life. I love my role as Government Affairs Director in Microsoft as it calls upon all my passions, skills and values. What I like the most at Microsoft is our cultural diversity. A culture where every individual can be their best self, where diversity of skin-color, gender, religion, and sexual orientation is understood and celebrated.
What I like the most at Microsoft is our cultural diversity.
A culture where every individual can be their best self,
where diversity of skin-color, gender, religion, and sexual orientation is understood and celebrated.
You have participated in a roundtable on ‘Technology Innovation and Circular Economy’ at a summit organised in 2018 by the Advanced Leadership Foundation Organization, which included keynote speeches from former US President Barack Obama, and other important personalities. On this occasion, you presented the Microsoft project « AI for Earth », which counts today with more than 100 individuals and organisations. How can artificial intelligence be a game-changer to address environmental challenges?
Every industrial revolution has borrowed from our past to pay for the future. In this fourth industrial revolution, we can repay the planet for the past, deal contemporary issues and plot a more sustainable future. This is where new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) can play a role.
AI is indeed a game-changer and a force multiplier when it comes to building a sustainable future. So much data exists on the state of our planet. By putting it to work, we can discover new solutions, bring them to scale and drive transformative change.
Microsoft understood this perfectly and announced a brand new $50 million commitment for the next 5 years in AI for Earth -a Microsoft program aimed at empowering people and organizations to solve global environmental challenges by increasing access to AI tools and educational opportunities. To date, we have awarded more than 100 grants to individuals and organizations in more than 20 countries, who are focused on finding solutions to climate change, loss of biodiversity, agricultural cost and yield, and increased water scarcity.
No country can solve the challenge alone. No company can solve it alone. All of us need to take action. As the Alan Kay says: “The best way to predict the future is to create it”. At Microsoft, we envision a future where all key stakeholders, civil society, academia, business, and public administrations work together to foster the Circular Economy through Artificial Intelligence.
“Artificial Intelligence is a game-changer and a force multiplier
when it comes to building a sustainable future.”
Today, only 6,7% of women graduate in STEM degrees. Microsoft, a proud sponsor of our network and Women Talent Pool programme, has launched different campaigns such as “Make What’s Next” or “DigiGirlz” to promote women STEM leadership amongst youth and close the STEM gap. Could you tell us more about these campaigns and your overall impressions on the results?
People who are going to lead the future are sitting in classrooms today. If we do not promote girls' interest in this type of studies, it will be difficult to reduce the gender gap in this sector, where new professional profiles are increasingly demanded on digital transformation and Artificial Intelligence.
For this reason, at Microsoft, we launched the campaign #MakeWhatsNext to raise awareness of the issues that take girls to drop out of or lose interest in STEM, and to pique their excitement at how they can change the world — if they remain engaged. The response to #MakeWhatsNext was incredible, with more than 14 million video views across social media channels. Girls’ passion is strengthened when they see female role models who have created innovations that are used in our everyday lives. As the motto goes, “If you see it, you can be it.”
Microsoft also developed the DigiGirlz Technology Programs, which include, high-tech camps and one-day events, are organized and run by Microsoft employee volunteers and provide high school girls the opportunity to connect with Microsoft employees, and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops.
“People who are going to lead the future are sitting in classrooms today.
It is necessary to show girls that starting a career
in the field of the STEM can be really exciting and can change their future
and the future of society.”
In Spain, 61% of the government members are women, including Nadia Calviño, Minister of Economy and Enterprise and a Friend of our Network. Do you think that the recent example of Spain could have a positive impact on gender equality policies in the country?
As the media reflected, there was an immediate positive impact in the country and also at the international level, given the fact that the Spanish Government has now become a reference when it comes to gender equality. Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, is also visible and decisively connecting with a fight for women’s rights since he appointed 11 women to his 17-member Cabinet. We experienced the impact that has been echoed in the international media, stating that Spain’s new Prime Minister, recently became the first world leader to appoint women to almost two-thirds of cabinet positions, placing Spain as the country with the highest proportion of female-led ministries.
We all need to continue our efforts in that direction in both public and private sectors, where more and more institutions should be an example of gender equality embracement. In that sense, Microsoft is strongly fostering gender diversity and inclusiveness as they are key for innovation, economic growth and development of our society. Just to give you a taste, our current Country Manager and the two previous ones are women, 30% of the Microsoft employees are women, while the average rate of women in the ICT sector is just 18%. In addition, 50% of the leadership team in Microsoft Spain is composed by women and, in the last year, 56% of newly hired employees were women. We will continue our work to ensure the best for the future.
We, at WIL, have a tradition to conclude the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following one for you: What is the quality you most like in a female leader?
The quality that I value most in a female leader is the empathy to others and their needs. The ability to understand and feel what others experience is critical for leadership. Being an empathetic person makes you a better leader.
In that respect, let me share the statement of our CEO Satya Nadella with you: “I learned that empathy is essential to deal with problems everywhere, whether at Microsoft or at home; in your country or globally. That is also a mindset, a culture. Empathy, which is so difficult to replicate in machines, will be invaluable in the human-Artificial Intelligence world. The ability to perceive other's thoughts and feelings, to collaborate and build relationships will be critical. If we hope to harness technology to serve human needs, we humans must lead the way by developing a deeper understanding and respect for one another's values, cultures, emotions, and drives”.
“The ability to understand and feel
what others experience is critical for leadership.
Being an empathetic person makes you a better leader.”
To learn more about Montserrat, read her biography!
Brussels based Ioana Banach, Deputy Director at the European Green Foundation, is a passionate European and a strong believer in the value of cooperation and gender equality. We had the pleasure to interview her on the role of women in European politics, the impact of networks like WIL Europe and much more!
What enticed your move to Brussels and what does your current job specifically entail? Why did you choose to work at a European level rather than on a local level?
I studied Political Science for my Bachelor (University of Bucharest and University of Warsaw) and EU Public Affairs for my Masters (University of Maastricht). I always had a keen interest in politics at the global and international level because I believe that societal issues related to topics such as as migration or climate change cannot be solved at a local and national level solely and that cooperation and open innovation at a European and global level is crucial.
While studying, I was involved for three years in a student-led project that was promoted by the United Nations: the 'Making Commitments Matter' project, which analysed the extent to which UN agreements were implemented at national level. It was through this experience that I realised what a powerful actor the EU is on the global arena. I decided to continue my academic formation with a Master in EU Public Affairs in Maastricht, and then the career path to Brussels was a very natural step to take.
I am now Deputy Director at the European Green Foundation (GEF), a European political foundation funded mostly by the European Parliament. It is linked to but independent of other European Green actors such as the European Green Party and the Green Group in the European Parliament. The main tasks of GEF are to contribute to the development of a European public sphere and to foster greater involvement of citizens in European politics. It works to create a common Green vision for Europe and to communicate it to the broader public.
There is less than a year to go to the EU Elections of 2019, in which EU citizens in 27 countries will vote to elect their representatives in the European Parliament and help decide who should lead the EU Commission. First-time voters usually abstain more than older voters, delegating their future to the older generation. How do you think we could counteract this issue?
The European elections will be taking place during a period of profound political and economic crisis and will shape EU politics for the next five years. Interestingly, what happened after the Brexit vote of June 23rd, 2016 is that, after a couple of decades of stagnant, rather ignorant sentiments towards the EU, people actually started to care. Whether supporters, critics or skeptics, citizens started to engage in debates about the future of the EU.
In many places, young Europeans are the most fervent in voicing their ideas about Europe. At the same time, they are also the ones who mistrust politics and institutions the most. So, while they definitely care and have an opinion, they might not believe that voting is the right avenue to voice their concerns.
So our job is to reconnect with citizens and discuss together how important their vote is, what they are voting for and what the EU actually is about. I am actively involved in promoting the role of the EU institutions not only here in Brussels but also in my country of origin, Romania, where we are experiencing a worrying political turmoil.
I am actively involved in promoting the role of the EU institutions
not only here in Brussels but also in my country of origin, Romania,
where we are experiencing a worrying political turmoil.
Women’s equality is directly linked to Europe’s overall well-being. Only by overcoming gender inequality can we indeed lay the foundations for our continent’s future. What are the main issues for women in EU politics?
In many EU countries, women are still vastly underrepresented in government. In the European Parliament, only one-third of elected MEPs are women and the female representation of women in the EU Parliament has increased by only 20% in the last 40 years. How can discuss policies affecting more than half of the population without this half being properly represented? We need to support women who might be inclined to choose a career in politics, if we want a fairer representation in parliament, both at a European level and a national level. This starts with what they hear at home, in schools, in fashion, advertising and media. It is unacceptable that in the year 2018 we still see such a backwards mentality: girls being educated to believe they can achieve less than boys; industries and fields of work which are completely women-unfriendly, huge pay-gaps between genders. Progress is being made, but in my personal view, not fast enough. We need to step-up our game.
We need to support women who might be inclined
to choose a career in politics, if we want a fairer representation in parliament,
both at a European level and a national level.
You are active in many organisations that support gender equality, and you are also a participant WIL’s Women Talent Pool Programme. What role do organisations like WIL play?
Brussels in this sense is unique; there are roughly 50 women's movements here. Organisations such as WIL Europe which work on developing leadership skills and offers networking opportunities have long driven global and national action on women leadership. Women organisations are essential sources of knowledge on how to advance women's rights. In pushing for change and accountability, they develop leadership skills and transform political arenas. Through these networks, women can find support from their (more experienced) peers, and they can even identify mentors, which is not only useful, but sometimes absolutely necessary if they wish to attain a leadership position.
Organisations such as WIL Europe
which works on developing leadership skills
and offers networking opportunities
have driven global and national action on women leadership.
We at WIL have a tradition to conclude the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following one for you: Which living person do you most admire?
I have to say social activist and writer Gloria Steinem. She has been an inspiration for millions of women worldwide, she helped create the New York magazine in the 60s and was among the founders of the National Women’s Political Caucus and the feminist Ms magazine. But most of all, she has this contagious charisma and a rebel spirit that mobilises so many of us to play our own small part in improving the society we live in.
To learn more about Ioana, read her biography!
Our partner INSEAD is one of the world's leading and largest graduate business schools which offers participants a truly global educational experience. Of particular note, INSEAD was ranked by the Financial Times as the #1 MBA programme in the world for two years in a row (2016 & 2017) and rated in 2017 the ‘Top International Business School’ in the world by Bloomberg Businessweek. We recently had the pleasure to interview their Associate Director of Development, Anna Sarr, who is also a participant of our Women Talent Pool programme! Read our interview if you are curious to learn more about her new programme, the Young Alumni Initiative, the role INSEAD plays in advocating and advancing women and gender balance, as well as her greatest influence, her mum!
Could you tell us a little bit more about your job position? What is your favourite part about your job at INSEAD?
As Associate Director of Development at INSEAD, I am in charge of engaging our MBA students and young alumni (up to 10-years post-graduation). My position has broadened and become more complex and, in the process, with three other passionate young alumni I created a new programme called the Young Alumni Initiative (YAI). It comprises a dedicated team of YAI ambassadors from around the world who form the backbone of a digital-savvy group of key stakeholders for our engagement programme and fundraising campaigns.
It has been a great opportunity for me to leverage my masters’ education in business, social and economic administration in my current responsibilities. It has given me a foundation to understand, empathise and engage with these key stakeholders. Our student and young alumni community is part of a diverse, powerful international network with 161 nationalities distributed over 174 countries. My background has also helped me in fostering a strong bond with them and in facilitating a stronger connection between this group, their classes and the school. This is definitely an interesting and enriching part of my job at INSEAD, which I am very passionate about!
You are participating in the 4th edition of our Women Talent Pool programme. What has motivated you to join the programme?
Freedom is what has motivated me to apply to the Women Talent Pool Programme. Freedom to learn every single day from success and failure, freedom to interact with people from different nationalities and backgrounds, and freedom to make an impact on people’s lives to make the world a better place. Freedom to pursue my dreams.
Being part of the WIL Women Talent Pool Programme represents the perfect next step in my advancement as a professional and a woman who is curious, eager to learn and continually seeks opportunities to help others advance.
Freedom is what has motivated me to apply to the Women Talent Pool Programme.
Freedom to learn every single day from success and failure, and freedom to make an impact on people’s lives to make the world a better place.
You have now been working at INSEAD for over seven years, which is also a partner of WIL. Do you feel empowered to work in an environment that actively encourages female leadership?
Organizations can and must do their part to help women to advance in their career. It means committing to empowering women and putting structures in place that will allow women to pursue their dreams on an equal footing with men. It must be driven from the top, and our INSEAD leadership has demonstrated their commitment to gender diversity.
Working at INSEAD is a great privilege for me. What I appreciate the most is my interactions with highly talented women and men with a growth mindset, who are members of our student and young alumni community. I am able to contribute significantly to the School’s mission and vision, and still have time for my family. INSEAD also gives me the opportunity to work in a pleasant multicultural environment, where I am pushed to do even better and advance in my career.
Working at INSEAD is a great pleasure for me.What I appreciate the most is my interactions with highly talented women and men with growth mindset, who are members of our student and young alumni community. I am able to contribute significantly to the School’s vision and mission, and still have time for my family.
At WIL, we have a tradition to conclude the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following question for you: Which figure do you most identify with?
My mother! I grew up in Senegal, in a polygamous environment where a woman’s role is pre-defined. I am the daughter of a single mother of eight children, six daughters and two boys, who raised her children with strong values led by lifelong learning, hard work, respect, humility, caring and openness. My mother was a high school teacher in Dakar with a monthly salary ten times lower than the guaranteed minimum wage in France (I let you do the maths). In addition to her work as a civil servant, she became an entrepreneur to realise her dreams for her children which is to have access to the best education that her limited resources could permit. We were taught that women and men are equal partners who together can achieve great things. We were constantly reminded to always fight for our dreams, to think and learn out of the box and to be a source of inspiration for our peers and the next generation. My mother has been and will always be my inspiration.
Today, I am a single mother of two, and I share the same values with my children. I am a proud member of an international family comprised of five nationalities living on four continents who speak five languages including Mandarin.
My mother was a high school teacher in Dakar with a monthly salary ten times lower than the guaranteed minimum wage in France. We were taught that women and men are equal partners who together can achieve great things.
Anna is Associate Director of Development: Students and Young Alumni at INSEAD with expertise in relationship building and fundraising with MBA students and young alumni.
She has more than 15 years’ experience working in a global, dynamic, complex and international environment. Anna has expertise in Marketing, Change Management and Strategy. She is a cross-cultural communication professional with two bachelors and two masters degrees in Business, Social and Economic Administration. She is specialised in Public and Private Administration as well as Justice and Rule of Law in Africa. She recently completed a Certificate in Negotiation Dynamics from INSEAD’s Executive Education Programme. She firmly believes in lifelong learning, in the fact that education and freedom remain the most powerful forces to sustain human values, and for social and business change.
WIL had the pleasure to interview Gabriela Ion, EMEA 4P Manager Data Center Group at Lenovo and current participant to our Women Talent Pool programme. If you are curious to learn why broadening one’s horizons is key to advance in one’s career and in which ways Lenovo is committed to gender equality, read our interview with Gabriela!
You have been working in the tech sector for over 12 years, first at IBM and now at Lenovo. What drove you to the tech sector? What do you find exciting?
I started my career 12 years ago in IBM Spain as a student and I found it that time a fascinating world and I still believe that the tech sector is an amazing place to be. Tech world is touching each of our life aspects, by defining trends, changing behaviors and accelerate the humanity progress.
Lenovo focus is to design and develop innovative products and solutions that are reinventing the future, and it is a great place to be part of.
It’s great to know that your company is constantly innovating, and it is deeply engaged in the research and development of the latest solutions which will change the future in a better way.
In your opinion, how has the digital transformation impacted the IT sector and more specifically customer experiences?
The digital transformation we are currently living can be compared to an industrial revolution. This revolution combines advanced technologies in innovative ways, dramatically reshaping the way people live, work and relate to one another. The world has the potential to connect billions of people that live all around the world to digital networks, improving the efficiency of organizations and of our lives.
In addition, digital transformation is the process that drives customer experience advancement. Companies that fail to address the needs of customers – especially in digital channels – risk getting left behind as the pace of change quickens and customer needs evolve.
Digital transformation combines advanced technologies
in innovative ways, dramatically reshaping the way people live,
work and relate to one another.
You have studied both in Romania and Spain. Do you think that studying abroad and speaking three languages (Romanian, Spanish and English) has helped you in your career?
Oh yes, absolutely! I believe that learning languages is a strong asset, especially for the new generations. For example, my work at IBM and my current role in Lenovo both required a globally-minded person who can speak at least several foreign languages.
On a more personal level, studying abroad gave me the possibility to meet people from all over the world and be exposed to an amazing variety of cultures and customs. In addition, it gave me the opportunity to build a global network of contacts.
Lenovo is a proud supporter of the 4th edition of our Women Talent Pool Programme (WTP). You have joined the Programme in March, together with 7 other employees from Lenovo. Why have you decided to join the Programme? What are the main takeaways so far?
We are proud that women represent almost 40 percent of our workforce. Lenovo promotes several diversity programs, including WIL’s Women Talent Pool programme, created with the objective of hiring, retaining and promoting the best female talents. Lenovo’s active and long-standing contribution to fostering gender equality and diversity creates better solutions for our business and our customers.
Joining WIL's WTP has been a great experience. I have participated to the kick-off in Paris and it has been incredibly enriching. Having the possibility of meeting so many like-minded women has been truly special. I can't wait to participate in the upcoming events!
Lenovo’s active and long-standing contribution to
fostering gender equality and diversity
creates better solutions for our business and our customers.
We at WIL have a tradition to conclude the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following one for you: Which living person do you most admire?
It is definitely my Grandmother! I grew up with my grandparents. My Grandma was an educator and a teacher, and she taught me to be independent, trust in myself and look for new challenging opportunities.
My Grandma was always very open minded and even in a very conservative environment my country was experiencing that time, she was showing me to look for challenges, know the world and discover new opportunities!
Gabriela is Run Rate Sales Manager for Data Center Group in Lenovo EMEA and she has over 12 years of professional experience in Channel Sales, Operations and Business Transformations. She held various Leadership roles in Lenovo and IBM and managed extended Sales Teams from different countries. Gabriela graduated Economics and Management University and holds two master’s degrees in international and Foreign Trade Management and Sales and Commercial Management from University of Barcelona. In her personal life Gabriela likes to spend quality time with her family and friends and she loves travelling and discovering new cultures.
Why is change important in an organization and how do you drive change? We had the change to discuss this issue with Corina Ghiatau, Organizational Development Manager at Orange Romania and current participant in the 4th edition of our Women Talent Pool Programme. If you are curious about the concept of organizational change and would like to know more about the upcoming trends in HR and the importance of valuing gender equality in a company like Orange, then this interview is for you!
What does your position as an ‘Organizational Development Manager’ entail? What is organizational development?
In a nutshell, organizational development takes care of the successful organizational change and performance. It aligns people with systems in both ways: it uses behavioural science to help people function better within an organizational context or adapts and redesign the organizational processes, systems, culture to help people be engaged and find a space to grow in the company. OD operates with key concepts like organizational climate, culture, engagement, employee performance, organizational design, talent management, employee experience, wellbeing. It can use tools like organizational coaching, design thinking, trends, organizational and individual diagnosis tools. One of the most recent examples which shows how the Organizational Development team contributes to the organizational change, alignment and focus on future is the Performance Process reshape in which we facilitate an innovation and co-creation expedition, based on design thinking, in which 11 colleagues from all departments have the assignment from the company leaders to create a revolutionary way of managing performance in Orange Romania.
Organizational development enables us to
improve organizational effectiveness while
adhering to the organization’s culture and values.
What do you believe are the Human Recourse trends for the next 5 years?
A major trend is that companies are completely reinventing employee performance evaluation by focusing on creating more frequent and meaningful feedback to help employees and teams grow together.
Another major trend is the culture of coaching. Organizations now tend to use coaching to help individuals reach their full potential, to help them strengthen targeted skills, build the right attitude, align with team goals, improve relationships or remove blockages in their development.
The last trend that I believe will be central in the upcoming years is customer centricity, meaning that HR puts the internal customer in the middle of each new process design. The empathic company knows its’s employees at least as well as it knows its customers, therefore many authors talk about HR as the new marketing.
Companies are completely reinventing performance evaluation
by focusing on creating more frequent and meaningful feedback
to help both employees and teams grow together.
Orange, proud Premium member of WIL Europe is deeply committed to gender equality. How is it to work in a company that values female talents? Could you share some of its best practices?
Orange makes diversity and equality during recruitment and professional career a priority, this being reflected by the figures and the external recognition received.
We have successfully received and renewed our GEEIS (Gender Equality for European and International Standard) certification in 2015 and 2017, when it was enriched with the Diversity dimension. We have an overall approach based on fostering talent and encouraging the inclusion of all employees, regardless of their differences. Orange focuses specifically on workplace gender equality and equal remuneration and offers a number of benefits for the employees like weekly wellbeing activities (parenting courses, hobbies, psychological counselling), work-life balance options (flexible working program, short Friday, remote working, sabbatical leave, paternity and maternity leave, birth allowance, flexible insurance), constant employee feedback open channels
Orange fosters talent and encourages the inclusion of all employees,
regardless of their gender.
At WIL, we have a tradition to conclude the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following question for you: What do you most value in your colleagues?
As a humanist, coach and psychologist, I look very much at what makes every person shine. What I appreciate in others and I noticed it is a success factor in their personal and professional life is self-awareness: an inward understanding of who they are, what are their strengths s and what kind of persons they want to become.
Equally important is the external awareness: having an appreciation and an understanding of how other people see us, the color of their emotional background and what learning opportunity they offer to us.
I also appreciate creativity, open-mindedness and finally integrity and honesty!
With a background in organizational psychology, psychotherapy and coaching, Corina has more than 12 years of experience in HR. She developed and implemented organizational development processes and programs like Talent Management, Wellbeing, Engagement, Culture, Employee Experience, Coaching in Orange Romania, but also going through international missions in Orange Poland and Orange HR Europe team. She is a trained innovation facilitator and currently she is leading a creative team which designs employee journeys and applies customer centric and design thinking methodologies in HR.
You have worked for 16 years in the police as a prosecutor and manager before starting a career at Microsoft. What made you decide to shift to the private sector and how did you feel working in such a male dominated environment such as the police?
I had 16 incredible years in the police with multiple challenging tasks, working as Prosecutor, Head of the Organized Crime Unit and later as Chief of Staff of the Police Immigration Service. I decided to change from the police to the private sector because I wanted to tackle new challenges, and immerse myself in cybersecurity and digitalization
I started working as the Director of the Norwegian Business and Industrial Security Council and during my time there, a major terrorist attack in Algeria on January 16, 2013 that killed 40 employees of one of the member companies that we represented. As a consequence I was exposed to a lot of media attention, interviews, discussion panels, and national tv that gave the organization political attention and visibility, and Microsoft offered me a position as they needed someone that perfectly understood the complex mechanisms of the government and knew how to carry a high-level conversation on cybersecurity. I decided to accept this exciting new challenge and since then, I have been working for Microsoft!
I decided to change from the police to the private sector
because I wanted to tackle new challenges,
and immerse myself in cybers ecurity and digitalization.
You have participated to WIL’s EU Luncheon Debate on “The New Face Digital Transformation: AI, IoT and Blockchain”, during which we explored the transformative impact of these technologies, which are disrupting all industries, bringing new opportunities but also new challenges, in particular in terms of data protection and security. Why is trust and cyber security so important on this digital transformation journey? How does Microsoft work to ensure that people trust technology?
Microsoft is one of the biggest cloud providers with / data centres available in 140 countries in 50 regions worldwide! Cyber security and privacy is thus fundamental for our company, and Microsoft and other tech companies are the first responders to cyber-attacks on the internet!
To tackle the increasing cyber security threat, Microsoft has more than 3500 security engineers working with cyber security, and invested over 1 billion USD in cybersecurity. Microsoft Threat Intelligence Centre, for example, has streaming data from over 200 cloud services, using machine learning behavioural analysis and forensic technology to create a real-time picture of cyber-attacks and cyber threats to our customers. If the system detects threats, our Cyber Defense Operation Centre is immediately alerted. If the attack persists, we do not only work with the customer to solve the issue, but we also use legal proxies to take down the domain and eradicate the attacker together with our Digital Crime Unit! Tech companies like us have the first responsibility to keep people safe. So onthe 17th of April 2018, Microsoft and 33 other companies signed the Cybersecurity Tech Accord that was strongly promoted by Microsoft. Microsoft, Facebook, and 32 other companies signed last month the Cybersecurity Tech Accord committing us to work together and protect customers around the world.
At Microsoft, we can thus proudly say we are the first line in ensuring digital data protection!
Microsoft is one of the biggest cloud providers
with data centres available in 140 countries and
in 50 regions worldwide ! Cyber security and privacy is thus fundamental
for our company.
Microsoft has been a Premium sponsor of WIL for many years, as part of its strategy to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Do you feel supported as a woman?
Microsoft is probably one of the most inclusive companies that we have in the Europe, and diversity certainly is one of the features that makes Microsoft so unique. To give you an example, I only have female managers! Microsoft is also a very special workplace because one of the company’s mission is to lift its talents and I believe this is the reason why the partnership between WIL and Microsoft is such a profitable one.
In addition, I lead philanthropies work were we have a number of programmes in Microsoft philanthropies that are specifically targetingyoung girls to encourage and inspire them to pursue a career in Computer Science and STEM. It is also meant to tackle the loss of interest that we see girls have after the age of 12. These programmes focus on promoting role models, as we have found out that role models double young girls’ chances of being interested in technology and STEM. In addition, Microsoft periodically holds workshops on the use of technology for young female immigrant’s as readiness to explore careers in Norway.
Microsoft is probably one of the most inclusive companies that we have in Europe, and diversity certainly is one of the features that make Microsoft so unique. To give you an example, I only have female managers!
We at WIL have a tradition, to conclude the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following one for you:
Which living person do you most admire?
If I may, I would like to respond to this question with two answers.
The women I look up to the most are my daily heroes, the professional and hardworking female colleges and managers that work closely with me here at Microsoft, who inspire me every day to grow and learn!
The other figure that has greatly inspired me is Madeleine Albright, the first woman to become the United States Secretary of State (she served from 1997 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton). There is a quote of Albright that I find very witty but also very true: "there is a place in hell for women who don't help other women".
Graduated lawyer from the University of Oslo with some management courses from the Norwegian Business School and the Norwegian Defense University College. Experienced manager (17 years) and board member (Amcham, SmartCity Bærum and the Norwegian Centre for Information Security).
After graduation she worked 16 years in the police as a prosecutor and manager, 2+ years as the director of the Norwegian Business and Industrial Security Council, and joined Microsoft 3+ years ago as a director for corporate affairs.
Kristine has two daughters ages 11 and 16, and is passionate about sports and politics.
© European Network for Women in Leadership 2018