In celebration of International Women’s Day, The European Business Review wants to honour all the powerful women who have taken the world by storm through their mental prowess and undeniable leadership skills.
UN Women has dubbed the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, 8 March 2021, as “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”. It is a day of uplifting and bringing to light all the wonderful efforts by women and girls all over the world to stay resilient and hopeful for an equal future for all, as well as collective recovery from the global health crisis.
Long before the pandemic hit, women have stood at the front lines of keeping society upright and flourishing. Some of the most exemplary and efficient national leaders that have graced our history books have been women, such as Queen Elizabeth I and Anne Frank. History has conveniently painted women second to their male counterparts, but with the recent movements for more equality and diversity, more women have risen to the challenge of taking the pen and writing their own part in history.
In the business world, it is especially hard to make a name for yourself as with all the adversity one has to overcome to even get a foot in the door. But women leaders have proven they can weather any storm that passes their way and even manage to set up contingency plans for the next disaster, as recent years have seen more female leaders demonstrate their skills, knowledge, and efforts to effectively lead a rocky world.
Female leaders bring more than just different experiences, perspective, and skills to their respective industries for the betterment of all. With their place in the world, they are rewriting history as we know it.
It is for this reason The European Business Review has asked female leaders in their respective leading industries to give us an insight on what they think contributed to such success, and what advice they can give to aspiring women who also want to succeed.
1. Anne Krog Iversen, Co-founder of TimeXtender
“For women aspiring to become a business leader, Anne believes anything is possible with self-confidence coupled with curiosity, proactivity, determination and an eagerness to learn and grow.”
Anne Krog Iversen is the Chief People, DNA & Culture Officer and co-founder of TimeXtender. Anne drives the effort at TimeXtender to build resilience and a robust, purpose-driven culture and DNA to help people achieve new heights of innovation and growth. She is a well-known thought leader and visionary in corporate mindfulness.
2. Sasha Baillie, CEO of Luxinnovation
“It’s always a challenge to speak up when you feel you are different. That’s a challenge many women still face in industries where most of their peers are men. But it’s not only a challenge for women. It’s a challenge for anyone who is different. Gender, class, LGBT, culture or colour. Yet diversity is absolutely essential to move our economies forward in a positive and sustainable way by listening to diverse voices and finding better ways of doing things.”
Sasha Baillie is the CEO of Luxinnovation. She is also a member of the Coordination Committee of the Ministry of the Economy, which she joined in 2014 as Deputy Chief of Staff and Diplomatic Advisor of the Deputy Prime Minister, following her 20-year career as a Luxembourg diplomat.
3. Corinna Schulthess Traumueller, Founder and CEO of Family Office Management Consulting
“It is not only being at the right place at the right time equipped with the necessary skillset, but first and foremost meeting inspiring leaders and mentors who entrust you with outstanding opportunities, which ultimately makes the deciding difference on your career path. Thriving to become and continuously be such a leader yourself, will make a difference for others and essentially the entire organization, changing future business environments bit by bit, also for women.”
Corinna has more than 15 years of experience in working with business and wealth owners, in her current function as well as while previously heading up the UBS Family Office Advisory business globally. In her roles, Corinna has worked with numerous notable families, entrepreneurs and family offices worldwide covering a multitude of aspects and advisory activities. She has been in the lead of substantial liquidity transactions from a structuring and operational perspective, thereby setting up some of the largest wealth and investment structures in Europe, North and South America, the Middle East, and Asia.
4. Farah Hawilo, Executive Director of Trust Capital TC
“Being organized and setting priorities are important ingredients of achieving success. Time management is another important aspect in order to cover all the checkpoints within deadlines. We don’t find time, we make time; this is what I follow.”
As an experienced leader who specializes in driving Trust Capital TC’s business vision, Farah focuses on bridging the gap between the forex world, traders and the company. While building high performing teams to deliver successful results, Trust Capital TC under Farah Hawilo is committed to providing the most trusted and secure trading platform for their clients. Her commitment and the right directional strategies are the key factors that’s driving Trust Capital TC towards success.
5. Chie Ito, CEO of FINOLAB Inc.
“I believe that all women are tough, flexible, charming, future-oriented, and down-to-earth by nature. Doesn’t it sound like characteristics for entrepreneurs? Let’s think and act on what you can do now for the future and yourself. We can create a new business to make the world better. Happy International Women’s Day!”
Ms. Chie Ito is the Chief Executive Officer of FINOLAB Inc. After taking charge of building a money exchange trading system for a major bank, engaged in partner alliances with overseas solution vendors and launching new businesses. Since 2014, she has been in charge of new business development and partner alliances, in addition to working with FinTech startups such as Japan’s largest FinTech pitch contest “FIBC”.
6. Franziska Gsell, Chief Marketing Officer of IWC Schaffhausen
“If you are passionate about a product and you know your customer, you can do a great job anywhere. We women should not take such biases too seriously and put limitations on our career choices and ourselves.”
Franziska Gsell has been the Chief Marketing Officer of IWC Schaffhausen since 2015 and also chairs the company’s Sustainability Committee. After majoring in Business Administration and Marketing at the University of Applied Sciences in Zurich, she worked as Brand Manager and Marketing Manager for Carlsberg SA and joined Fogal as CEO in 2012, after leaving her positions as Marketing Director at Lindt & Sprungli AG and as International Marketing Director at Navyboot Zurich. And in 2015, she began her journey at this famed watchmaking house.
7. Gina Lodge, CEO of Academy of Executive Coaching
“My philosophy is that leaders are there to set the direction and to guide and support their colleagues to be their very best, enjoy what they do, and have a sense of achievement in their working lives.”
Gina has over 20 years experience in management roles while employed by Shell International Chemical Co. Ltd and subsequently in IT and Education. During her career she gained significant experience in project and change management. Gina was directly involved in implementing Quality Management standards, Business Process Re-engineering projects, and IT applications.
8. Rhoda Davidson, Director of Emylon Executive Development
“I believe you have to put in place structure and process to make sure you take care of the three key elements of health; self, family and friends, professional. It’s important to put boundaries around the amount of professional opportunity you are given, matched against the resources that you can access.”
Rhoda Davidson is an experienced educator, business consultant and entrepreneur. She has worked in executive education for over twenty years at top global institutions such as IMD, Duke CE, and EMLYON. She leads strategic innovation and corporate entrepreneurship programmes with large multinational companies. As a pioneer in business-driven action learning, her focus with MBA participants is on skill development through hands-on experience.
9. Laura Tyson, Distinguished Professor of UC Berkeley HAAS Business School
“More than business acumen, leaders must have a vision and the ability to engage the talent of their organisations to realise the vision. Great leaders are often exceptional storytellers, as they inspire others to work together toward achieving their shared vision.”
Laura D’Andrea Tyson is an influential scholar of economics and public policy and an expert on trade and competitiveness who has also served as a presidential adviser. She is a Distinguished Professor of the Graduate School at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. She also chairs the Board of Trustees at UC Berkeley’s Blum Center for Developing Economies, which aims to develop solutions to global poverty. She is the former Faculty Director of the Berkeley Haas Institute for Business and Social Impact, which she launched in 2013.
10. Magdalena Nowicka Mook, CEO of International Coaching Federation
“Good leaders look toward to the future and are comfortable conceiving a grand, audacious vision for what’s next. They need to think beyond what is possible and instead focus on what’s needed.”
Magda acts as strategic partner of the ICF’s leadership, including the Board and a variety of committees and task forces. Specializing in strategic planning, cultural competence, ethics, international affairs and board governance, she also oversees organizational budgets and manages professional staff of the ICF. Magda is also a trained coach – she received her training from the College for Executive Coaching, and also holds a certificate in the Fundamentals of Systemic Coaching.
11. Sherilyn Williams Casino, CEO of S.I. Williams Health Family Office
“A leader today must have a vision – and the ability to enroll others in that vision. They must also have a healthy respect for all people in and out of their organisation – and shows it.”
Sherilyn Casiano is the Founder and CEO of S.I. Williams Wealth Management, LLC, a multi-family office practice in New York City that offers fully outsourced or selective co-sourced solutions to single- and multi-family offices. She founded her family office practice 14 years ago. Over the years of operating her practice, Sherilyn has saved her families over $15 million in estate tax exposure, $1.2 million in tax preparation fees, over $2 million in income tax, and much more.
12. Petia Dimitrova, CEO of Postbank
“I do believe in gender equality and try to keep the balance in the bank’s teams, but in my work choices I try to be guided more by the qualities and professionalism of the individual. I trust that it is possible to have a successful career, but climbing up the professional ladder is not an easy task. It requires discipline, the desire for self-improvement and personal qualities.”
Mrs. Petia Dimitrova is Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the Management Board of Postbank (under the legal name Eurobank Bulgaria AD). She joined the team of Postbank in 2003 as Country CFO for the eight affiliated companies of Eurobank EFG Group in Bulgaria. In 2005 was appointed Procurator of the Bank. In 2007 she was appointed Executive Director and Member of the MB of DZI Bank. After the legal merger of DZI Bank and Postbank she became Executive Director and Member of MB of the unified bank.
13. Evelyne Freitag, Chief Financial Officer of Sanofi
“I always say this to the high talented offspring: Do not be impressed. Do not let yourself be told what you can’t do, but do what you think is right. Go your way. Develop your own view and present it. Do not be the blindly obedient employee, not the simple executive service provider, but have a clear opinion and defend it.”
Whatever the sector, be it automotive, pharmaceuticals or consumer goods, as Managing Director and CFO, Evelyne Freitag moves easily between different industries. This international financial expert has been taking commercial responsibility for over 20 years and is well aware of the strategic and operational challenges faced by fast-growing, publicly traded corporations and their subsidiaries. She is today Director and CFO of the Healthcare company Sanofi Aventis in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
Even as circumstances are slightly different for this year’s International Women’s Day, it is nevertheless still a day meant to amplify female voices and celebrate their irreplaceable hold on life. These trailblazers are just one of many who have been steadily making their way to the top of the ladder, while also making sure to lend a helping hand to those also vying for a seat.
This goes out to all the businesswomen, girl bosses, mothers, millennial feminists, and everyone identifying with the divinity of femininity: Happy International Women’s Day to you.