MT tried to provide its own antidote to the November gloom last night by hosting another fabulous networking bash for our stellar '35 Women Under 35' network. Sponsored by Accenture, the exclusive event was held at the LK Bennett store on Brook Street.
The keynote speaker was Carolyn McCall, CEO of Guardian Media Group, who spoke of the importance of increasing the number of women in the management pipeline so that we end up with more women on boards. Having an organisational culture that encourages this is crucial, she said – but all too often, this isn’t the case. Be wary, though: ‘You won’t change a culture of an organisation if you don’t like it’, advised McCall. ‘It will just slow you down.’
Stamina and resilience are the two critical qualities needed to survive and thrive during a downturn, she added: ‘But if you’re a CEO, you need to be resilient anyway’. She advised the gathering of high-flyers to be confident – and to act it even if they don’t particularly feel it. ‘I put money on the fact that many of you have used the expression ‘I don’t know how I got this job. I am completely out of my depth’’, she said. ‘But you’ll never hear a man say that. Even if you are out of your depth, don’t ever bloody say it.’
Her other tip for those of you aspiring to senior management is to broaden your experience. Take every opportunity to work across different divisions of your organisation, as well as to work abroad, she suggested. ‘Not only does it put you front of mind, it also legitimises your candidacy for promotion,’ she said. ‘The worst thing is not putting your head above the parapet because you think it’s too risky.’
Both McCall and Accenture speaker Lucy Hailey, a senior manager who also leads its communications and high-tech women’s network, highlighted the importance of networking to get ahead and the benefits of sharing success stories with each other. Ensuring that you have a mentor to guide you on your way up the career ladder is also imperative.
Both speakers were welcomed by MT’s Emma De Vita, who masterminds the ‘35 Women Under 35’ list every year. If you want to nominate someone for the 2010 list, email her now at email@example.com. Your nomination should include a biog, an outline of job responsibilities and an explanation of why you think that the person merits nomination.