How would you how would you describe your leadership style?
I had a very good manager when I started in my first company and she was a great mentor. She involved me in everything, so I learned about the commercial, but also technical aspects of a business. That’s how I’m trying to be with the people in my team. I aim to be as open as possible but it depends on the people I’m working with – if they are open too that’s great, we have a very good chemistry.
Have you received criticism for your leadership style?
Yes, I’ve encountered some people who are more difficult for me to lead. With them I can be too direct, particularly in the written form, but then they raise it, we’ll have a conversation and I’ll explain that it’s not a personal thing. We move on after this communication. Although I haven’t been a leader or manager of a large team, I have learned a lot from this. I never position myself as a manager, I work together with the team, because this how my previous manager worked with me and it was really effective.
How many women are there within your company? Is it male dominated?
It is male dominated, yes. In my previous company, we had quite a few women. My female manager was a co-founder of the company. We had quite a few people on the engineering side, so data scientists, business analysts, who were women, so it was quite a good balance. In my current company, I am mentoring a woman and she is now leading the product team, but yes, it’s male dominated, with a couple of women in managerial positions.
Do you think that your perspectives are different to men in the environment you’re working in?
No, I don’t, as quite a few of the men I work with are good at understanding people and reading signs which are not obvious. They are like-minded and have a similar view to me on communication with others and good management style. Of course, I hear other stories from more traditional transport companies and supply chain and when I talk to customers, they often have a different view, although we try to choose customers who are a bit more forward looking or open to different way of doing things.
Can you name three role models?
First of all, I’m not a huge believer in one person being a perfect role model as I like to be inspired by certain characteristics of people and I have to know them. So here are three people or rather characteristics that I aspire to:
My former manager. She is just incredible at networking and by that I mean connecting with people, understanding their strengths, communicating her strengths, and then asking for help when she needs it and reciprocating this for others. This is what networking is for me – not just connecting to lots of people so that in the future you will get value out of them. She really creates a community and relationships and I am inspired by that part of her.
My younger sister. She’s just an extremely open person. It doesn’t matter if she knows somebody or not, she’s just very open. It’s something I am a little bit jealous of.
My current manager. He tries to understand how things are and he doesn’t make assumptions. He reads a lot and talks to many people, to get as many different perspectives as possible. It’s really inspiring and changes your mindset.
Do you see any barriers to career progression for women?
In general, I think it really depends on management, as you need mentors who inspire people to move up. If you have bad management, it’s very difficult and I’ve encountered this in the past. You learn and grow through this though. I feel that today the problem is often unconscious bias – so managers make assumptions when they talk to you, without knowing you. It’s trickier, because then you can’t really explain to them what the issue is because they just don’t understand it.
What advice would you give to a woman in your position who’s starting out in her career or trying to climb the career ladder?
If you’re doing what you’re interested in, you will always find your path.