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Leading Ladies Lunch

Hi I’m Ufeli, I said. I work in investment services and I am starting a corporate wear brand for women. We make shirts that won’t gape at the bust and you can follow our start up journey @myshirtis_gapeless. We’re looking for a model to be the face of the brand at the moment! Exciting times.

At the start of this year I put down goals for my career, business and personal life. One of these was to meet more people who are committed to progress. The leading ladies event was an ideal starting point. As we went around the room introducing ourselves, the common thread was we all had full time jobs and we all had passion projects that we are working to scale to sustainable businesses. All of us belonging to the career switching, multi hustle and multi interest generation.

As we worked our way through the exercises I reconfirmed my goals for the year across four key areas. Professionally, I decided I would reconnect with some of my old colleagues. I’ve been contracting across private equity and asset management for two years and have made connections with many people, which I should work to maintain.

Zoe, the founder of Ms Independent, shared her experiences working on a corporate restructuring. This session was one of the most valuable for me. The base line is, if your organization needs to slim down the work force by 50% what do you bring to the table that means your role is protected?

A few suggestions, first of all avoid tardiness. I have always been the type who can pick things up quickly, identify the key tasks and deliver in a short period of time. However, doing your work with excellence is not enough if you do not pay attention to punctuality.

Secondly, come to meetings prepared to contribute. Often agendas are shared in advance. Make your voice heard and make your points relevant and insightful by doing prior research.

Another take away was to learn my manager’s communication style and tailor my approach to them. We did a personality test and finding out more about my personality type was fun. But the crucial learning point was which personality types I am likely to clash with and ways I can stop this happening.

As we shared our results around the table, it was interesting to see the Jekyll and Hydes. What I mean by that is some of us are very different at work than we are in business or with our friends. There isn’t really a right or wrong. If you are super playful and laidback personally then it is probably appropriate to adapt this at work.

For me, my results were consistent across both. I’m a driver. Results orientated, straight to the point, and focused on the goal. I like facts, concise communication and I can be impatient. Famous drivers include P Diddy and Simon Cowell. In a weird way, I like being in the same personality group as Simon Cowell. His opinion as a judge is respected regardless of what people think about him personally and I think at work and in leadership being respected is important which is what I aspire to. Also with P Diddy he has built a chain of successful businesses which is ultimately what I would like to achieve.

I have always been ambitious in and outside of the workplace but one thing I have learnt and would encourage other early stage career ladies to remember is that excellence is the mastery of the fundamentals - become good at your core job first. Your managers are more likely to support your development if you have demonstrated competence in the basics. Zoe advocated the brick by brick approach and I agree.

Charlyn, the guest speaker works in corporate at KPMG and has a side hustle ‘Up On It’ her talks were focused on how to push forward and how to put ourselves forward. My key take away from her session was to change my communication to exude confidence. There are ways to say “I don’t know” that still give the impression that you are on top of your workload. Often times as women even when we are certain of the answer we preface our responses with phrases like “I could be wrong” these statements can hinder us and should be avoided.

Overall the event was well worth attending. The other ladies were all open, eager to learn and share their experiences. Zoe’s commitment to closing the gender pay gap by equipping women with the skills they need for leadership is inspirational. I thank Zoe and the other members of the Leading Ladies team for putting together a productive and insightful workshop.

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