Following International Women’s Day that celebrates and highlights the successes of women who overcome the challenges and obstacles that still exist in many walks of life, in many parts of the world, we wanted to celebrate leadership, diversity, inclusion and equality as something good leaders strive for every day of the year.
To inspire you, especially as you consider what is needed to lead in these challenging times, we wanted to share some great insights from some of the amazing female leaders we get to work with at Digivizer. We analysed the qualitative responses from each of these successful women executives, focusing on their views of what leadership and success looks like.
What drives these leaders is transformation and opportunity, supported by care for their teams, a preparedness to seek support, and a determination and resilience to succeed.
Here’s the plot:
These are attributes and a language that transcend gender: they are attributes of leaders, and the success of these individuals reflects their skills, experience, and their ability to empower and nurture their teams around them through exceptional communication skills, and a focus on support such as mentoring.
These women’s achievements and the impact on their organisations show that if you cultivate a mindset built on the idea that you alone are the limit to your potential, and you then remove those limitations, you will succeed.
In the words of these fabulous leaders:
Jie Yu, General Manager of Global Service, Lenovo
Jie Yu (centre in above photo, with her global leadership team) credits her success to her vision, determination, strategy and execution. “I always strive to improve what already exists, and encourage new ideas, and their growth,” she says. As a Chinese woman in a senior executive role earlier in her career in Japan, she’s experienced a range of cultural and gender challenges, all of which she has successfully overcome on her own terms. “No big jump in itself, but step by step. I continue to try to improve existing scenarios around women in leadership, and incubate new ideas whenever I can.”
For us the main takeaway was her advice that she received from one of her first managers, who also happened to be female: “Always try to add something new into your life and in your work. Always be trying new things.” Simple advice, but essential for a growth mindset. “You drive change by achieving your milestones one by one – it’s a journey with many stages,” she adds.
Catherine Vissiere, Territory Marketing Leader, Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Catherine Vissiere believes in cultivating networks based on value. “I’m inspired by talented leaders who care about their people and customers,” she says, reflecting advice she received early on in her career, to “be the person in the room that asks the right question, always to put the customer at the centre. If you do this, you can always navigate around any roadblocks, and amplify opportunities for growth and longevity.”
Catherine attributes her ability to ask the right questions, and cultivate teams of impact, to having empathy and the ability to connect with a customer problem. “Empathy gives me the ability to connect with a customer problem, or see an untapped opportunity, or someone’s potential. And I have a ‘tool kit’ that allows me to solve the issue, or unlock the opportunity, and empower people, ultimately creating value for all involved.”
Annie Parker, Global Head of Startup Audience Engagement, Microsoft
Our conversation with Annie Parker was equally inspiring. The key learning? “If you want to produce high-quality work, you’ve got to perfect that work-life balance.” Annie draws upon her inspirational grandfather, who went from being a low-ranked employee to owning his own business and becoming a well-respected leader in his community. Annie claims his success came down to two things: his commitment and determination to work hard, and his ability to find laughter and happiness in every aspect of life.
Annie is passionate about all individuals finding that drive and happiness, underpinned by the mantra that “talent is equally-distributed, but opportunity is not.” Individuals who prove to the world what they are capable of when the system is stacked against them will succeed and inspire others around them to do the same. “If you find that one goal, and not let anything stand in your way, there is nothing stopping you from achieving it.”
Jo Burston, Founder and CEO, Inspiring Rare Birds
Something that really stuck with us from our conversation with Jo Burston, Founder and CEO of Inspiring Rare Birds, were her reflections on success being the connections we build. “I am the sum of the people I attract,” she says. This translates into her journey as an entrepreneur building a team of empowered female employees who do things “their own way, with a DNA that ensures everyone wins.”
Central to Jo’s success – with Digivizer, she launched a new website designed to expand Rare Birds’ mentorship programs around diversity and inclusion in IWD week – is the practice of giving without remembering and receiving without forgetting – simple, but impactful, as is her advice to her younger self: “Your gut instinct is always right. Listen to it intuitively as the little pink flags become the big red flags later.”
Robyn Mclennan, Founder and CEO of Easy Living Footwear
Robyn Mclennan (second from the right in the picture above) has been in retail for over 35 years- and has witnessed many businesses, large and small, close their doors in this period. So what does she attribute her ongoing success to? Commitment, determination, and most importantly, adaptability.
“You always need to keep moving forward, if you become complacent your competitors will overtake you. Accept change and run with it,” she says. This is an incredibly valuable lesson for any business. Robyn believes that if you combine this flexibility and tenacity with a passion for what you do, the end result will always be worth it. “There will always be sacrifices in business, but if you believe in what you do, and work hard for it, it’s always in the end rewarding.”
Stefanie Winwood, Head of Corporate Communications and Investor Relations, BluGlass
Our conversation with Stefanie Winwood can be summed up with this: “Odds are made to be defied.” Having gone through a life changing horse riding accident back in 2014, Stefanie is no stranger to resilience, grit and determination, and credits her success to being incredibly introspective when understanding her own personal measures of success. “If you are too busy chasing someone-else’s ill fitting design, it is going to leave you with that chronic-feeling of ‘never-enoughness’.”
Between rebranding and growing premier award winning mentoring programs for the Australian Technologies Competition, to having an career in acrobatics and horse riding, Stefanie notes some unique parallels when it comes to making terrifying decisions – whether it be standing on a trapeze platform 8m in the air and whether to jump or not, or pivoting an entire brand’s direction and legacy. She comes back to the words of her acrobatics instructor: “Throw your heart out over the bar, and your body will follow.”
Emma Coakes, Chief Marketing Officer (former at Macleay College)
Emma’s most-valued piece of advice given to her resonates in its simplicity and directness: “In order to succeed and find happiness, your desire for success should be greater than the fear of failure.” It’s advice she’s followed through her career, and it’s supported her through a number of personal challenges that have also seen her prevail.
“I think nurturing an individual optimism, and an undeniable belief within yourself, can help you triumph in life’s most difficult tasks, in business and in your personal life,” she says. Business success comes with resilience and a preparedness to adapt and change. “You can’t always control life or work’s situations- but you can always manage your reaction and response to them. And that influences the way you and others feel about the outcomes.”
As part of a #shescalesglobal event, Digivizer has launched a special offer – one that we extend here:
- access to the Digivizer platform for a special price of US$29 per month for the first 12 months for new users creating an account before 31 March 2020
- 60 days of marketing insights free (30 days of past engagement from your sign-on date, and the first 30 days of access free)
- real-time insights showing you the performance of all your digital marketing across your search and social digital marketing activities, in owned, earned and paid media – so that you can make better decisions about where next to deploy your budget and resources
- the impact of your web performance, measuring traffic, goals, transactions and revenue
- a weekly performance summary delivered to your in-box – what we call Digivizer Express
- the hashtag of your #business name
- in-platform support and 6 monthly digital strategy sessions
Go to digivizer.com/shescaleglobal to open your new account.