On 31 January 2012, at Microsoft’s premises in Brussels, WIL had the pleasure to host a pre-launch Women Talent Pool gathering.
After a warm welcome and explaining to the gathered Emerging Leaders the criteria, based on which they were selected for the pilot programme, Elena Bonfiglioli, Senior Health Director EMEA, Microsoft, WTP coordinator, presented the programme objectives and the aim of the pre-launch gathering: getting to know the Pool, brainstorming to get feedback and set expectations.
She also spoke about the learning opportunities Emerging Leaders are going to be able to benefit from by engaging with more senior women to discuss their future career paths, work experiences, leadership issues, business topics, as well as their aspirations and ambitions. Most importantly, participants will learn by sharing personal perspectives and discussing how to set the foundations for new models of leadership.
Several WIL members, who joined the program as Role Models, shared among the WTP participants their perceptions of and expectations from the programme.
Through the WTP, Nathalie Wright, Director of the Division Large Enterprises & Alliances, Microsoft, would like to push younger women into taking initiatives and responsibilities. She joined the programme, because she meets a lot of young women, who have a lot of ideas and energy, but are unsure whether they ‘can do it’. She would be happy to help them build their trajectories. Ms Wright is interested in sharing her experiences in various fields, including: IT, telecomm, finance, marketing and sales.
Claudine Schmuck, Global Contact, Director, noted that for the Emerging Leaders, being able to work the programme from the beginning gives them a chance to voice out their expectations, express ideas and have a real influence on its final shape. WTP is structured in a way to address the needs of the EL; the Role Models know what they want to transmit and convey to the younger women, but would like to take on board Emerging Leaders’ feedback to determine the right way to help them in their future progression.
Pinuccia Contino, Head of Unit Multilingualism and Translation Studies, DG Translations, European Commission, expressed her desire to give back by helping the younger generation. In her view, the whole point of the WTP is to help Emerging Leaders understand what they want to do in their professional lives and help them go for it; the first step they need to take is to build a reaching, personal relationship with the Role Models.
As some of the most important elements of the WTP, Thaima Samman, WIL President, listed the opportunity for the EL to get access and nurture a very diverse network, along with learning about ways to position themselves in relation to what they want to achieve. She noted that the women, whom the Emerging Leaders are going to meet in this programme are going to follow them for the rest of their lives.
Katherine Corich, CEO, Sysdoc, would like to see the EL set a clear direction of their careers: learn that they want to get from A to Z, believe they can achieve it and build support networks around themselves, based on trust and honesty so they can eventually achieve these goals, without having to compromise, particularly if they start to change things in life. She also stressed the importance of learning how to build teams, knowing whom to be honest with and whom to be professional with.
Mrs Bonfiglioli shared with the gathered WTP members her belief, that in the pursuit of happiness we become happy. In her view, it is through the way we regard opportunities, job, daily life that we transmit and echo to the others the potential that is around us and the potential of what we can do.
During the gathering, Emerging Leaders were given the opportunity to express their expectations from the WTP. They would like to broaden their horizons and learn through both training opportunities and exchanges with diverse members of WIL’s international network. EL also expressed their interest in learning about the impact of culture on leadership style. Many of them felt they could use help in improving their communication and negotiation skills. Among issues that they would like to see discussed, they mentioned work/life balance, sociological aspects of leadership and the idea of femininity. By the end of the 18 months’ programme, they would also like the WTP to come up with a single position on the issue of Women in Leadership.
In the context of the World Economic Forum Davos, Mr Dan Bross, Senior Director of Corporate Citizenship, Microsoft, drew on the example of its Young Global Leaders and Young Global Shapers programmes and spoke about identifying, developing and nurturing young leaders.
He stressed, that identifying talents early on and including them into the discussion helps bring the dialogue to a new level of awareness and inclusiveness.
Mr Bross noted, that when Prof Schwab formed the World Economic Forum, he probably didn’t have sense, hopes or dreams that it would become an international platform, where global leaders gather on an annual basis. The guest speaker turned to WIL Members advising them to think about the network in terms of what it can become for women leaders and in terms of helping develop talent among women.
He also stressed, that one sector of society is not going to address our global challenges: ”if we are going to address the crisis, it is going to require governments, NGOs, corporations to be engaged”.
Following the introductions, brainstorm and the inspirational speech of Mr Bross, the WTP members were given the chance to get to know each other better during a speed dating session, as well as invited to WIL’s official meeting, on the topic of Women in Culture.
The gathering turned out to be a success; the Emerging Leaders and Role Models had an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the ways in which they are going to cooperate during the course of the 18 months programme, learning both from the WTP Program Coordinator and from each other. Due to WTP’s structure, designed to respond to the needs of the young Women Pool, the meeting was a significant contribution towards determining the shape of the programme, which will be officially launched on the 6th of March.