On the afternoon of June 27th, WIL members and Emerging Leaders gathered in Brussels for the second in-person meeting of the Women Talent Pool 3rd edition, which was held at the Microsoft Executive Briefing Center.
Prior to beginning the session, the audience received a copy of Dr. Carol Dweck bestseller, “Mindset: changing the way you think to fulfill your potential”. The book was introduced by Elena Bonfiglioli, WIL Board Member and Senior Director Health Industry EMEA at Microsoft, who drawn attention on the power of the mindset to succeed: the attitude you adopt profoundly affects the way you lead your life. Elena encouraged the talents to train their minds in order to adopt a growth approach instead of a fixed one to fulfill their potential in their professional and personal life.
After these words of wisdom, Elena Bonfiglioli opened the floor to the Talents, who were invited to give their feedback on the first months of the WTP program. A vast majority is appreciating that the program is giving them the opportunity to share experiences, hopes and doubts with their peers and senior women managers from various backgrounds and sectors. Additionally, they particularly enjoyed the London speed dating session with senior role models, which helped them realize that these outstanding women experimented the same issues and obstacles they are facing themselves in their career. Generally speaking, emerging Leaders feel more empowered, encouraged to think “out the box” and to dare more taking some risks.
Afterwards, the Talents were invited to a demo tour of the Executive Briefing Center to discover the latest technologies produced by Microsoft. It was a cheerful moment of discovery and amusement as they had a unique opportunity to test leading edge technologies.
The second part of the session was dedicated to Sigrid Marz eye opening presentation: “Ready for the future: what are the competencies that you will want to keep learning to stay relevant in times of fast organizational and societal changes.” As Senior Client Partner at Korn Ferry, Sigrid shared with the talents the key competencies needed to help them develop their leadership style. Because of the various barriers women are facing, externally and internally, they tend to get stuck at lower management positions. Sigrid suggested the emerging leaders to act more, dare “taking the ball from somebody else”, identify and proactively remove their headwinds. She highlighted the fact that leadership is a journey, during which you must develop your entire person, meaning who you are (i.e. competencies and experiences) and what you do. Even though competencies matter in this journey towards leadership, they are not sufficient: to reach the next stage in management, emerging leaders should also work on their motivation (drivers), leadership traits, be aware of their strengths and areas of improvement, learn from their past experiences, develop their learning agility (curiosity to explore new paths of leadership) and capacity. In a few words, you have to step out of your comfort zone and push your potential to its maximum.
Following Sigrid’s vivid presentation, Roberta Cocco, National Plans Development Director at Microsoft Western Europe took the stage to talk about #Makewhatsnext, an inspiring project initiated by Microsoft to close gender gap in the fields of STEM. The European #MakeWhatsNext campaign runs 55 events and organize trainings in 28 countries, to inspire and provide the tools for girls to dispel the stereotypes that surround STEM and take opportunities in the ICT industry. To do so, #MakeWhatsNext has built partnerships with public and private actors, including the United Nation Women, which was represented during the session by Caroline Petit, Deputy Director at UNRIC, United Nations communications office for Europe. On May 26th and 27th Microsoft invited girls from across Europe to attend the flagship event in Venice, Italy, which brought together a set of international speakers, cutting edge researchers and technology start-up, to discuss how girls can innovate and achieve more in the STEM fields.
The WTP afternoon session closed with remarks from senior professionals Elena Bonfiglioli, Emanuela Palazzani and Roberta Cocco, who stressed out the importance of role models and mentors in professional careers. They advised the Talents to find themselves different role models from various backgrounds, in order to broaden their horizons as much as possible.
The Emerging Leaders were then invited to enjoy a Cocktail to close the WTP Brussels session on a pleasant note. It provided opportunities to discuss furthermore with the role models and network with their peers.