I’m writing another entry again today as I fear tomorrow night the pressure of the business simulation may take over! What a day we had today…. it is so long (23 years to be exact) since I sat in a purely academic environment and just soaked it up without being under a particular company banner. Even though the subject matter is directly related to my day to day life, it feels slightly liberating and a little bit self indulgent at the same time. But more later about female guilt and inferiority complexes…
When you put 27 diverse women in a room even for an hour, you’re always going to have some interesting times… and we’re certainly on a voyage of discovery. There are people here from industry, government agencies, the military, hospitality and of course finance – to name a few – and they come from legal, accounting, marketing, operations and many other disciplines. Add to this they have come from the UK, various parts of the USA, Nigeria, Turkey, Dubai and of course Australia, and you can see that despite the gender similarities, there are many differences.
The day started with a 2.5 mile power walk in the dark – it was about 7 degrees out so we needed to walk fast….. the keener exercisers ran or swam even earlier. Then straight into a day of strategy and leadership case studies covering Taren Swam (Nickolodeon), Christine Day (Starbucks/LuluLemon) and finally words of wisdom from Sheryl Sandberg. The learning style at Darden is interactive – there is nowhere to hide in the room. Each Professor teaching showed accomplished presentation skills and challenged us to respond and comment on the written material and further questioning. It was amazing how many different views there were on each of these well known leaders – particularly when we were asked if we would like to work with these people ourselves, or what the message/story was that was being told. There were some very strong views and considerable emotion in the room on several points.
With 27 women in the room, sometimes it felt like there were 27 opinions… I was left wondering how the discussion would have been with an equal representation of men in the room. It seemed as if every point made could be applied equally to men in certain circumstances, and some members of the group alluded to this being the case in their areas of expertise where men frequently take a back seat. But I think we’ve all felt the female imposter syndrome at some point plus a healthy dose of parent guilt for those of us who have been working mothers.
My main takeaway was that we need to be very careful how we judge, as without self awareness of our own natural and often unconscious bias, we may be too quick to interpret words, actions and appearances, and our emotions may take over our ability to walk in the other person’s shoes and see their point of view.
In case I don’t post again for a couple of days, I thoroughly recommend this TED talk to you all – especially if you’re a parent. It’s about creating a growth mindset to encourage learning and change awareness, and is beautifully presented by Eduardo Brinceno: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN34FNbOKXc
I’ll leave you with my favourite quote of the day from the Professor who presented to us on Strategy:
“Strategy is the MSG of the Business world” – nicely put!!