On the 11th of August, we hosted a fantastic event: Women in Business – Entrepreneurship.
Introduction of the event
Even though there has been a lot of progress regarding Women in Business, there’s still a lot to do. According to the statistics, the percentage of women in senior management positions is growing, but there is still a lot of disparity between men and women (Catalyst, Quick Take: Women in Management, August 11, 2020).
“It’s important to think about female leadership on a global scale. In the UK, of course, there are still problems but there are far fewer than our counterparts in the developing world”. Harriett Sheffer
It is always good to hear the perspective of women who are pursuing their dreams and achieving great goals.
It has been insightful and rewarding listening to the experiences and the thoughts of three truly inspiring female entrepreneur guest-speakers:
Adina Deacu – Environmental Psychologist at “Tianmei’s World” Environmental Psychology Consultancy. She is now on a mission to change how people view education and turn the world into one big classroom through all the research projects and workshops she designs and delivers.
Harriett Sheffer – Founder and Design Director at Studio Hu. She is a design strategist that seeks to bridge the gap between strategy conceived and strategy executed. She is passionate about new frontier start-up environments, community building, and is the Co-Founder and Program Director of the Chengdu Women in Business Network.
Lydia Jones – Founder and CEO at Housemates whose mission it is to make student travel frictionless. She described herself as “obsessed with building products that solve real problems”.
Meeting chair of Pagoda Projects:
Pauline Barba, Qingdao Branch Manager.
The topics of discussion have been many. We heard how diversity makes teams more innovative, as well as what the current trends and challenges of being a woman running a business nowadays are. We listened to how the current global situation has given these women a real opportunity to innovate and test their flexibility as start-ups in their sectors. They also discussed the crisis of leadership and thinking of a new way forward, and even what sets you apart from the competition in your market. On top of this, a hot topic was the importance of building a support network.
“Entrepreneurship is identifying a problem and thinking about how to provide a better solution to that.” Lydia
“My mission is to surround myself with people who know more than me in all given areas. We all live in a digital world, there are lots of podcasts out there with female founders and it’s how you use the content out there to your advantage. Everything is feedback and it’s having the confidence to go out and speak to people and understanding what to listen to.” – Lydia
“Diversity needs to start from the top level of management. If your board isn’t diverse, I think you’re at a disadvantage.” – Lydia
“For me, what matters, is the ultimate goal that I have and when I couldn’t find a platform for the problems I wanted to solve, I created one.” – Adina
“Diversity moves things forward and it’s about that curiosity and wanting to know what other people think as this is what gives you personal growth. For anyone, a willingness to grow is a mandatory part and if you’re not willing to grow, you can’t go very far, and diversity gives you that. People are afraid of diversity and disagreements… I’m happy to see younger generations are trying to break out of that and it’s great to have companies like Pagoda Projects who are trying to do this.” – Adina
“Having women on your board, they represent over half of the world, leading you to see industries that you haven’t seen before.” – Harriett
“Not just for women but for everybody, the disadvantage comes early on in our confidence. As young people in an increasingly weird workplace, always be positive and confident and take every opportunity you can. You will learn something from everything you do and don’t be put off by doing things that don’t sound like ‘what you thought you’d do’.” – Harriett
Sometimes the drive to achieve goals comes from a strong will, from a lack of resources in the current market, or from the need to find a solution to a question.
Entrepreneurship is a challenge that leads to personal and professional growth and allows you to gain versatile skills that can be applied to many types of jobs. It means having decision-making autonomy but also critical thinking and relying on those who know more than you in certain fields. It is also about making the most of the worst situations and demonstrating flexibility and agility by turning a period of crisis into opportunity.
What matters is to grasp the lessons from all experiences however big or small, never stop at the first result, and always look for improvements. Furthermore, what is a huge plus in a company is diversity. It is vital, as it brings competitive advantage and it gives the opportunity to see things from different perspectives and to have challenging conversations that lead to innovation.
Further readings: Women in Business – 2020 Trends, by Guidant Financial.