It’s hard to believe it’s already February. Because our MSc Management programme is so fast-paced, it’s easy to “wake up” and realise that a semester is already over and most of the time on campus was only spent in group meetings, lectures and study sessions. As such for this new year and semester, I made a resolution to enjoy more of what Imperial has to offer starting with the variety of events held on campus.
My organisation, the Imperial College Women in Business (ICWB) society which aims to develop and empower Imperial College and Business School women into great business leaders, made it easy to get a head start on this. Our first event of the semester was the Women in Leadership Panel Night which aimed to celebrate and dialogue with women who are blazing their own paths in the corporate world #bossladies.
As one of the ICWB sponsorship managers, I had the pleasure and honour of directly approaching companies that have demonstrated a commitment to promoting the development and support of women in the workplace to find panellists for the night. I also tapped into my personal network to reach out to two women leaders I had heard from before who embodied what we aimed to celebrate that night. A big takeaway from this experience was the importance of reaching out months ahead of time to as many potential speakers as possible as they unsurprisingly have very busy schedules. Ultimately, we had two pannellists for the night: an Executive Director from UBS and a Senior Manager from EY. They brought very engaging and diverse perspectives to our discussion for the night which centred on career motivation, gender parity in the workplace and industry, work-life balance and lastly, leadership. Below are my key takeaways from the event:
You can have it all: It’s not often we get to see women business leaders of high ranking who are balancing active family lives with high-powered, fast paced careers. As such, our speaker from UBS who is doing just that was such a refreshing and inspiring representation for us. She explained that among other things, the flexibility and support that UBS gives her fosters her ability to maintain this delicate balance. I learned that if this is something that we want down the line, it’s important that we evaluate the stance of potential employers on supporting women with families now.
Don’t be shy to speak up: Personally, I have often had the mind-set that if I just focus on working hard, my efforts will surely be rewarded. However, the rules of the game have long changed and it’s imperative that we take that a step further by talking to those around us not just about our current projects and contributions but also our future objectives. Our speaker from EY explained that building relationships in the workplace and being unafraid to be vocal about her skills and aspirations eventually led to her being tapped for a career opportunity or two down the line.
Be excited about the challenges: As women, we’ll most likely than not be outnumbered in many workplace scenarios but we need to “lean in” right from the beginning. Our speakers advised that right from the beginning of our careers, it’ll be important for us to see these scenarios as empowering opportunities to continuously bring our unique ideas and perspectives to the table, rather than get intimidated. Such persistence in addition to having a positive attitude towards both good and bad feedback will facilitate our development and present opportunities for us to lead from the middle.
Overall, this was an empowering and inspiring event and I’m excited to experience more of such events which are available on campus.
Nana is studying our MSc Management programme.