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Celebrating International Women's Day 2019

Lee Robertson | 08/03/2019

 

The AoEC is proud to celebrate International Women's Day 2019. We asked some of our very own senior female leaders about their own experiences in their professional lives and who had inspired them along the way to do the great work they do today.

Gina Lodge, CEO, AoEC Group

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Much is made of the gender gap. What have your own personal experiences of this been?

I feel I have been fortunate in this respect. In my early career, my contribution was acknowledged and opportunities for further learning and advancement offered. In hindsight, it probably helped to be working for one of the world’s largest companies who were very advanced and proactive in their approach to developing potential in their people at the time. I am also aware that my experience does not reflect what has happened overall, particularly when you read that it is expected to take a further 100 years to close the gender gap.

How do you think women have contributed to and transformed the world of work over the last 20 years?

Women have contributed a great deal in transforming the world of work over the last 20 years. Studies have highlighted that gender balance at work and particularly on boards is a key success factor for organisations. Women are now involved in 80% of consumer goods purchased and by 2025 women are predicted to account for 60% of all personal wealth*. Initiatives such as the 30% club aimed at achieving a higher number of women on boards have had a positive impact.

What management/leadership qualities do you feel you personally bring to the workplace and how do they make your team perform to their best?

You may need to ask my team to validate this! My philosophy is that leaders are there to set the direction and to guide and support their colleagues to be their very best, enjoy what they do, and have a sense of achievement in their working lives. I believe in treating people as people rather than employees, regardless of what they do and who they are. Curiosity, kindness and respect are three qualities of high importance to me.

Who in your working life has inspired you the most and why?

I have long been inspired by Bill and Melinda Gates. Bill followed his passion and had a vision which he followed relentlessly. Like most successful people, he was not driven by money as a goal. Now that he has achieved success, Bill and his wife Melinda have used their notoriety and resources in establishing the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to make a real difference to the world with their belief that ‘All lives have equal value’.

I also like the Malcom Gladwell concept of 10, 000 hours to become an expert. It transcends the notion that the only way to succeed is via a traditional educational route.

…..and of course Michelle Obama!

What is the single most important piece of career advice you would give to young professionals working their way up through the management ranks today?

Find what inspires you and pursue it relentlessly if you can.  Don’t let limiting beliefs, yours or those projected onto you hold you back.

* - Source: World Economic Forum

 

Gamze Acer Bayraktaroglu, Head of AoEC Turkey

 Gamze-Acer-Bayraktaroglu

Much is made of the gender gap. What have your own personal experiences of this been?

I experienced that in my previous company. The weight of masculine power made it very hard for women to be visible and not given the chance of moving into upper management. When I am coaching female leaders, almost half of the issues are from their challenges in dealing with the unfair treatment of ladies.

However, I was fortunate to have grown up in a family where girls are encouraged to grow and be socially and economically independent. I was given all the opportunities to have the best education. My parents always motivated me to challenge my limits. I believe that is why I do not feel inferior as a woman. On the contrary, I use feminine leadership qualities very easily.

How do you think women have contributed to and transformed the world of work over the last 20 years?

My favourites are Aung San Suu Kyi and Oprah Winfrey who both changed their destinies. They did not limit themselves with the given situation. They searched for more, dreamed of more and achieved more.

What management/leadership qualities do you feel you personally bring to the workplace and how do they make your team perform to their best?

I believe that my main attribute of my leadership style is using my intuition. I create a vision that I go for. I can smell what is in the air and name it. I can easily put into words what creates impact and influence.

Having a vision requires strategy and execution. I am very inclusive and create space for our potential as a team. I am very interested in what we as a team can do, rather than what we have to do. I do not analyse competitors. I believe that puts us in a box of what is already done in the market. I am inspired from our clients’ needs. Because I trust our competencies, I trust our synergy and I trust our resilience. I respect my teammates as they are. So a non-judgemental atmosphere is very important. Therefore, we talk openly instead of judging. We are curious about each other’s thoughts, emotions. That creates creativity and flexibility.

My interest is in discovering the traits of the team first and to create services that are in line with our qualities. This brings an innovative approach, which is our main competitive advantage.

I like to challenge. I am always out of my comfort zone. That is the only way to discover “I do not know what I don’t know” and where the potential lies. I love to motivate my teammates beyond their perceived limits. Nurturing is also one my leadership qualities. To support my colleagues while challenging them. This brings constant development for all of us. Flexibility within the frame of our values is important for me.

Having fun, being positive and creating solutions rather than being stuck in the problems is a platform I like to create in our company.

I am very sensitive to emotions too. I believe this is a feminine attribute - to care about expectations, the team’s satisfactions. This brings open communication and a safe environment.

I believe in the power of relations. Relations need an understanding of emotions. So that is what I rely on with our clients as well.

Who in your working life has inspired you the most and why?

My parents inspired me first. My father’s professional values, social capabilities and altruism and my mother’s belief in self-development, commitment and intelligence have always been my leading lights. One of my ex-managers inspired me with his executive presence and his vision not only in business, but in life. My teachers in high school and university also inspired me and the vision they communicated is always in my head.  

One of my favourite leaders is Richard Branson and his holistic leadership perspective inspires me a lot. His strong presence, modesty and being a socially responsible person are inspiring.

What is the single most important piece of career advice you would give to young professionals working their way up through the management ranks today?

Get out of your comfort zone, as much as you can.

 

Our sincere thanks to Gamze and Gina.

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