Samantha Howie IWD2021
Disclaimer: Please note that all commentary and opinions provided in this interview are those of the individual and not the organisation/company they are employed by.
What is one lesson you learnt the hard way?
That showing vulnerability as a leader and bringing my full and authentic self to work has helped me to be a more effective and productive HR professional. I found it quite challenging and difficult being a diverse female working in financial services earlier on in my career. At the time, I was too focused on trying to be who I thought I was expected to be in order to assimilate into the corporate culture. Once I figured out how to balance being my authentic self in a way where I could thrive, I was able to build deeper relationships with my clients and have more meaningful connections with peers and colleagues – all of which have strengthened my impact as a leader and also ensured that I am happy to come to work each day.
How can female leaders ensure they get a seat at the table?
I believe that a seat at the table has to be earned regardless of your title or role within an organisation. One way to effectively achieve this is to proactively help leaders solve a critical business problem or challenge. But the key is to do it without expecting anything in return. If you continuously strive to be a servant leader and operate this way, you will always have a seat at the table. And if for some reason this approach does not work for you, then do as Shirley Chisholm said and “bring a folding chair.”
What impact could Kamala Harris’ appointment to Vice President have on the next generation of female leaders?
As a women of color, Kamala Harris’ appointment as Vice President of the United States of America means “my VP looks like me.” This is a powerful message that has a major impact on the next generation of female leaders, especially young women of color, because they will believe and are confident that their dreams can be achieved all while being their authentic selves. Vice President Harris is ensuring that “even though she is the first, she will not be the last.” She stands on the shoulders of giants and is walking through the doors that were initially opened by them, as well as holding the doors open for those that come behind her. The next generation realises that although it may take some time, change will happen.
Click below to read the full edition of IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge: Female Leaders Across The Globe.