Meritocracy Opening Doors for Women

Leaders share views on International Women’s Day on March 8

11/03/2013

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While women business leaders still face work/life balance hurdles, "the world is moving forward" toward a more meritocratic business model, said Leslie Rubio, managing director of Global Banking at Citibank.

Rubio was one of four senior women business leaders who participated in the session, "Redefining Ambition: Different Paths to Success, Top Business leaders Share their Views," organized by the MBA Women in Business Club on March 8, International Women’s Day.

"It’s an evolution, not a revolution," said Rubio, who was joined by Carme Miquel, strategy and business development director at Sanofi Aventis; Karine Heckmann, cofounder of 3PGallery and executive advisor at KHE Consulting; and Inge Geerdens, founder of Executive Research, CVWarehouse and Your Next Move.

The event opened with a presentation by IESE Prof. Nuria Chinchilla, director of the International Center for Work and Family. She described how leading a family can provide women with competencies that can be applied in the workplace such as customer orientation, leadership, integrity, initiative, teamwork and communication skills.

To succeed, however, women must develop a "personal mission" - in order "to have one life, not parts of a life," Chinchilla said. She encouraged women to avoid addiction to work, maintain a balanced lifestyle and learn to delegate.

During the panel discussion, moderated by IESE Prof. Julia Prats of the Entrepreneurship Department, women leaders discussed personal and professional challenges they had faced and how they had tackled these.

Miquel said that International Women’s Day needs to be viewed "positively," as a means of driving positive change in society. Many women start out highly motivated in their careers, but then lose momentum due to work/life balance constraints – something that needs to be changed.

Geerdens described her "up-and-down" entrepreneurial trajectory, pointing out that that adversity is a great teacher and when seemingly bad things happen, often "it can be good."

Unlike men, women tend to focus on their current jobs, rather than on their next career step, said Heckmann, who worked for more than two decades in the corporate world for companies such as Morgan Stanley and Deloitte before launching her own company.

The good news is that business is becoming "more and more about results," said Rubio, "and not about whether you are a man or a woman."