This year, for the Diversity and Inclusion Week, the 2022 edition of Women Leaders Night was organised by the HEC Career Center. This event, which took place on the 15th of March, is essential in illustrating the importance of having female leaders.
Five exceptional female leaders were invited to present their career paths and experiences in the professional world.
The speakers for this 3rd edition of Women Leaders Night were:
Aurore Amaudruz: Co-Director of Energy Solutions and member of the Executive Committee at Romande Energie.
Caroline Clemetson: Associate / Attorney at Law, LL.M. at Schellenberg Wittmer.
Eftychia Fischer: President of the Board of Directors at Banque Cantonale Vaudoise.
Marie-Eve Fortier: Audit Director at PWC.
Sandra Kurmann: Divisional Head et Managing Board Member at Swiss Insurance Association.
The conference started with a speech by the dean of HEC Lausanne, Marianne Schmid Mast, and the UNIL equal opportunities office representative, Roxane Roduit, who both highlighted the importance and the cruciality of having female role models for future generations.
At HEC Lausanne, only 36,6% of the students are female. Studying in a male-dominated environment, having female leader role models accentuates the possibility that anything is possible as long as we are determined.
During the conference, several themes were discussed, ranging from courage to successfully balancing private and professional life.
After sharing their career path, each speaker gave the audience advice from personal experiences:
Life becomes easier if you love what you do
Finding a job that suits you perfectly is not always easy and takes several trials to get there. The importance of the process is to always stay legitimate to who you are. Remember that resigning from a job is normal; what is not normal is staying in an environment that does not make you truly happy. An important strategy to always recall is to surround yourself with the right people. Give meaning to what you do, and do not be afraid to ask for help when needed.
Do not doubt yourself
As women, we tend to feel more guilty when we receive a job promotion or a job offer. We tend to feel as if another colleague might have deserved it more than us. However, we should always remember that if we do get a promotion or an offer, it is because we deserved it and the only feeling we should feel is pride.
Women are stronger when we empower each other.
Have a positive influence
Working in a male-dominated environment, Mrs. Fischer recalls how until she was 45 years old, she never saw another female face during board meetings. She worked in an environment that was not diverse and, therefore, sometimes faced inequality. She remembers an experience from earlier on in her career, where she had learnt her male colleague was receiving 30% more salary for the same job. Mrs. Fischer at first thought it was to do with her performance but soon faced the fact that her performance at work was not the problem and the only reason for a difference in salary was her gender.
An important lesson to remember is to retain your mental liberty. If a job is not suitable for you, quit. Self-confidence will come from knowing that you have a piece of skill that no one can take away from you, and that skill is in your brain. It is crucial to always be reliable, useful, and positive.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want
Balancing professional and private life can be hard, but anything is possible if you have the right partner by your side. It is also helpful to remember that certain aspects of your private life can teach you characteristics that can be useful for your position as a leader. Mrs. Fortier shared her experience of raising her three children and how the skills she developed as a mother were directly in line with the skills a good leader should have. As leaders, we should be benevolent but still give a rigid framework. It is also essential to be resilient in life while never forgetting your objective.
Be confident in the choices you make
Responsibility comes with our choices. However, it is essential to stay confident with the choices one makes. There will always be someone that will question your choices, do not let these comments make you doubt yourself.
Today, women get more and more chances in the professional environment; however, we still need to improve the perception that others might have once women are given these chances. As women, we should never lose our emotionality and the passion we have for what we do.
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