Question and Answer (Q&A) with Lynn Bamford
I work primarily in the EU and the Emirates. Prior to that, I had CEO positions in a few private and public companies in the States. In the EU and to a slightly lesser extent in the Emirates, there’s no shortage of women in C level positions. In the EU, vs the States, management is more direct, to the point, very little fluff. My second observation is most people, men, and women, here, don’t take criticism or differing views personally. Does anyone have a view of why it’s so different in the States on these things?
Possibly your first observation is more reflected in some industries. My experiences are tied to the defense and aerospace industry and have not observed a difference in management styles between the US and elsewhere in the world. I think generally the goal here is to be not just direct but to lead and speak in a way that is going to thoughtful and accomplishes the goal and does not diminish a colleague unnecessarily. As for receiving criticism, I think that may take a level of maturity to receive comments without taking them personally. It’s important to be able to listen to other viewpoints and ideas with an open attitude. Again I have not observed a regional difference of note in this area.
Do you think female vs male stereotypes push women harder or create fear of entering a male-dominated industry?
I think it is both. While companies may talk a good game, if there is an entrenched group of male leaders, it could be hard for rising woman executives to break through in that company. Longevity with a company as a proven leader and more women in management and on the boards would help with this. The bottom line is this will vary person by person. Personal experiences from their life will most likely affect this.
What was your biggest lesson learned that you wish you knew when you started your career?
As important as your intelligence and success are in your work environment, it is just as important to create relationships with your colleagues and to treat everyone well even when you are under stress. Be innovative and stay open to new ideas/opinions and make sure you keep learning every week of your life.
Question and Answer (Q&A) with Jeff Olson
Have you ever witnessed sexism in the workplace? And are there things to look out for, to educate young men entering the workforce?
Unfortunately, yes I have witnessed sexism in the workplace. I am happy to say, I have witnessed much less in the last decade than in previous decades. My advice to young men is twofold. First, I challenge them to personally maintain a zero-tolerance policy to sexism. To repurpose a US DHS slogan – if you see something – say something. Call people out. If you witness sexism – POLITELY and simply say something. The more we speak up as individuals, live and at the moment, and call attention to sexism on any scale, the less it will remain socially acceptable. Silence is complicity. Have an opinion. Darkness cannot survive in the presence of light.
The second piece of advice is to maintain the first-person perspective. We get “in trouble” when we think or speak in generalities. For me a good reality check has been: Would I use the same words if I was speaking to my mom, wife, sister, or daughter? Would I react favorably if someone spoke to my mom, wife, sister, or daughter in a similar fashion? Be accountable. Be the change you wish to see in the world gents.
What advice would your mother have for the new generations of women entering and exiting in the workforce?
Far be it from me to speak for her! The woman has her own opinion and her own voice so I asked her :) she says: “Be educated in the area you want to work, have a precise resume and be prepared for your interview . Think about the types of questions you may have and how you would answer them. Look your interviewer in the eye and show them you are confident and eager to work. Dress for success and be well-groomed”.
If you were approached by a female co-worker and she expressed concern of sexism from someone else (not you, as I know that would not happen), what steps would you take/urge people to take, after hearing something like that?
First I would hear her out completely. In my opinion, historically men have had a bad habit of minimalizing or rationalizing sexism. Before gender, race, or sexual orientation, we are human beings. We all have the right to feel the way we feel - and to speak our hearts and minds. After I heard her out, I would likely recommend she confront the individual or speak to HR. Again, have a zero-tolerance policy. If you see something – say something.
Question and Answer (Q&A) with Suzy Zeng
How do handle people from a different era, who aren’t fully accepting you as an equal? You work harder, more differently, creatively, just accept it?
The first challenge for me was to be aware of my differences in other people’s eyes. I thought my working-hard and showing-results were enough to earn my equality. Throughout my career, I learned that I needed not just work harder and but differently, by bringing my best self and strengths to work every day. I’ve also learned that we need to communicate the challenges and our thinking on problem-solving so others can relate. I learned to continue to build my strength, as a result, I earned my seat at the table with my reputation as a problem solver and a critical thinker.
How do you view the young women and men coming up in the workforce?... Stronger advocates for the ideas you discussed?
I think the young women and men coming up in the workforce are very talented and have many skills I wish I had when I was at that age! I also think that having the talents are not enough. Relationship-building, for example, is one of the critical skills that we all need to develop over time. Work-ethic is another key element to success so I don’t think we should have entitlement. We’ve gotta work for it. Achieving success is a journey. Embrace the process and enjoy the journey, not just the “trophy". Ask ourselves what our values are. What unique skills POVs we bring to the table. Build a positive reputation. Continuously to grow ourselves. Once we get up there, lend a hand to others and help others to achieve the same.
How do women take responsibility for uplifting other women, any ideas to help me be more aware and impactful to other women?
Thank you very much for willing to take the responsibility of uplifting other women! I’m sure the women you’ve helped and inspired will appreciate you more than you think. To be more aware and impactful to other women, I’d first suggest to reach out to other women and tell them that you’re willing to help. Don’t assume they got everything figured out. I myself was not really good at reaching out. I assumed that they would ask me for help if they needed help, and I assumed that others won’t want me to offer my help. Throughout the years, I learned reaching out and building relationships are important.
Over coffee or one-on-one, ask how they are doing and share your successes and struggles with them. Show that you’re been there and understand the challenges. And you’re willing to be their sounding board if they have questions. I really think those genuine conversations are going to make a difference in building trust and impact other women. Thank you all the women leaders who are willing to help and inspire other women, and create a culture of ‘Women Helping Women”
Question and Answer (Q&A) with Christina Tomasco
We need to better understand what sports are ideal to educate yourself on…cricket, sumo, soccer, Olympics, etc.? Understanding Global sports may differ…how can one be more aware of teams/sports in different areas of the world?
The most important take away is, Know your Audience. Bonding around sports is purely a common ground with your co-workers, peers, etc. Listen to their interests, you may pick up on the fact that play, follow or have children playing a specific sport, it can be an ice breaker or a start to a new friendship if you know or learn about the sport or sport(s). The same holds true for hobbies or family interests; maybe the conversation starts over participation in a concert, running a marathon, attending a play. it is nice to know something about that sport.
Yes, Global sports differ. Learning where a co-worker resides, went to University, or where they grew up will likely give clues as to what sports they are interested in or participate in. As stated in the presentation, you do not need to be an expert in every sport, but it is a good idea to know regional sports. A few simple examples: To someone raised in the USA, their idea of Football is very different from someone raised in Australia or the UK. If you see someone wearing a Manchester United jersey; Football in the UK, Soccer in the US on the converse if you see someone wearing a Seattle Seahawks jersey, Football in the US, and American Football in the UK. The key is to have a general idea of the sport to spark a general conversation.
Some may say sports are more of a male-dominated subject, in that case, why should women conform to a more male interested topic?
Participation in some sports is certainly gender-specific, but that does not mean that a woman can’t be a fan of that sport. For example, as a female, I have not played organized American Football; BUT I know a great deal about the sport because I am a fan and I enjoy watching games and the festivities around the sport. A woman should never feel pressured to play or learn a sport if that is out of your comfort zone. Sports are only 1 way of bonding in the workplace. If that does not work for you, pick up on other interests of those around you; cooking, travel, gardening, etc. The common theme of Bonding: Know your Audience.
How do you maintain a personal relationship/bond with someone, without venturing into political and ethical conversations?
Politics and religion can be a very touchy subject. Know your Audience; in some scenarios, both are fine to discuss, other situations, better not to go there. Ethical conversations are somewhat different. In business and in personal relationships, actions typically drive a person’s ethical actions. For example, if you catch someone cheating that is something that is in their character. Sports are a great way to get insight into a person’s character; typically character comes through in business as well; taking shortcuts, taking credit for someone else’s work.