IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge: Andrea Collier

March 25, 2021

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 skills and attributes do female leaders bring to create diverse leadership at management level? 
Leadership today means for most of us, to work more and in more international, intercultural and interdisciplinary networks. So many of us are already encountering greater diversity in our day to day interactions. While this cannot be generalised, it is my experience, that women tend to display greater empathy in the business environment, act with emotional intelligence and encourage collaboration. Breaking down barriers and inviting all key stakeholders into the debate are the skills needed for creating a different mind-set and establishing a culture of diversity.

What does “choose to challenge” mean to you? 
As a female leader in Human Resources, I have chosen to challenge that anyone willing to work hard on what it takes to become qualified in their vocation or dream job, can freely opt for the profession and the job they want to do and utilise all of their abilities and skills to get to that goal. I was a proud sponsor of the “Girls Day” while working in an engineering business, offering young girls insights into what it means to work in STEM jobs, going beyond stereotypes. Today, I am particularly proud of the fact that one of my god daughters has recently graduated as Master of Science in Industrial Engineering, tapping into her natural talents, after seeking my advice on her education.

What is one lesson you learnt the hard way? 
Realising my own gender biases – being more aware of it gave me a better chance to counteract them. What do I mean exactly? We are all the “product” of the sum of our experiences including our upbringing and the interactions we had in our lives. My education growing up as a girl was to be likeable and accepting at all times. Reflecting on my own behaviour and becoming a better leader started with self-awareness. Transferring this learning into my work means I can bring most value in my leadership role, when I challenge and ask questions to bring out the best for our business.

How can female leaders ensure they get a seat at the table? 
– Female leaders get a seat at the table, when they increase visibility and find a platform to get noticed. 
– Look at opportunities to extend their roles and actively promote their achievements and contributions. 
– Build networks to get a sounding board and support for their ideas and projects.
– Develop a clear plan where they want to be and how to get there. Then look at partnering with the people that can get them there, i.e. a mentorship, a concrete responsibility in a high priority project can make the difference in their careers.

What impact could Kamala Harris’ appointment to Vice President have on the next generation of female leaders?
Kamala Harris displays strengths and confidence. She authentically communicates her ambitions, objectives, values and takes a strong personal positon on topics that matter. Young girls and women have gained an inspiring role model. Whoever you are, whatever your situation, whatever your beliefs and dreams, around the world, young girls and women have learnt it is possible to live up to their aspirations and be successful and will be striving for more. Nobody can fail to be impressed by the incredible career path that Kamala Harris has taken so far.

What are you really, really good at? 
When I was 18 I moved to France and lived and studied there for seven years. This experience underlines my strong wish to discover the world and its diversity. I am staying curious, embracing and looking to learn from other cultures. I consider myself very fortunate, that I had the opportunity to work globally and to travel the world. From every travel and encounter, I came home amazed and excited about new perspectives that I had gained. I truly believe that diversity is the key to business success and stable societies. I am really, really good at bringing individuals and/or parties together and understanding people’s motivations.

What is your next goal or adventure? 
To keep learning, I have just finished my Barefoot Certificate in Business and personal coaching (ICF standards), building on my previous coaching qualification with DGFP. In the fast moving business world that we now operate in, agility and the ability to adapt is increasingly important; my goal is to inspire both, my peers and the leaders of the future.

Click below to read the full edition of IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge: Female Leaders Across The Globe.https://indd.adobe.com/embed/bb2678fd-fafb-4e5f-b57b-bbe97612e7cf?startpage=1&allowFullscreen=true