I feel honoured and privileged to be able to bring you two powerhouse women in corporate, entrepreneurial and STEM leadership today, Robin Bienfait and Becky Blalock all the way from Atlanta, Georgia USA.
I had the pleasure to work with Robin at BlackBerry when she was CIO. These were the days when men only had these roles in technology. Robin has an engineering background and is a advocate of getting more women in STEM disciplines, and more women in leadership and innovative positions and paths, being a speaker at The Global Women in STEM Leadership Summit. Robin started out at AT&T, at one time leading teams of tens of thousands of people. Robin has also spent time leading Samsung’s Technology group, and most recently Robin has started her own venture in Emnovate – specialising in setting businesses up to succeed and grow through innovation! Robin is a strong force to be reckoned with!
Becky Blalock was previously CIO of the 5th largest utility company in the world, a job that took her around the world traveling and Becky has written the book ‘Dare’. This book is a voice to all women who have ever wondered what it takes to reach the top of the corporate ladder and lead in business and corporations today, or any woman in business wanting to hear from others what it takes to succeed and last in a corporate environment. Becky specifically sought out 28 successful women to interview for this book and she shares their experiences and stories with her readers of her book.
The breadth of our conversation speaking about their experience and the adversities they have faced over the span of their careers is something I am most excited to be sharing with my audience. To hear from both Robin and Becky on the biggest challenges they have faced, what they see as being the biggest opportunities for those in corporate leadership positions today as well as those who need to reinvent or innovate their own entrepreneurial pursuits.
This particular interview was one that I didn’t want to end, and as such we have split this podcast into 2 parts. Part 1 covers their experience in dealing with corporate America and what it has been like navigating STEM companies and STEM roles as women over the past 40+ years. Part 2 is special; we discuss innovation, what leaders really need to do to succeed in business and life. We also dig into the topic is mental health and their views on this epidemic of a topic on society and through corporations today.
Part 1: Climbing the Corporate Ladder
Robin and Becky both open up about what’s it’s like being the only woman in the room. How do you get others to listen? What happens if they don’t? I too share my experiences with diversity and inclusion from my past 25+ years in corporations and businesses. When you are different to the norm, many people take shy to this and not always include you in the conversation. Being genuine, being persuasive, being likeable has all been traits myself as well as Becky and Robin have had to acquire and permeate to be heard around the Boardroom.
(2:08) Becky: Many of the jobs I held in the company, I was the first woman to hold those jobs because Robin and I came along at a time when woman didn't do these kinds of things. When I came out of college only 15% of business graduates were woman, today that number is more like 50%.
There is a common theme in my podcasts and chats that I do with global leaders around the world. Becky found this truth from the 28 women she interviewed as well for her book, the truth being – be willing to put yourself out there and take risks – no matter what the consequence. Make sure you are doing what it takes to succeed in the endeavours that you choose, your dreams. Get out there and try different things, just make sure you are not holding yourself back. If your mindset or something in your life is holding you back, be sure to identify it and deal with it head on or choose to push it aside so you can move quickly towards achieving what it is you want to achieve. Thrive in business, move towards your dreams and goals and live the life you envision for yourself.
(3:46) Becky: Be willing to put yourself out there and take risks. Do whatever it takes to grow yourself. Get out of your comfort zone and don't be afraid to fail.
Collaborating with your peers is something Becky advocates.
Read "8 ways to collaborate with teams" by HBR here.
(9:10) Becky: So many of these issues are universal. If you are struggling with something go talk to your peers.
(10:18) Robin: I do agree that there are a lot of leaders that feel like they should be the one who understands and knows all the answers. I think the great thing that women bring to the table is that we are great listeners.
(11:17) Becky: I think it's really important to listen to the vendors, those people who sell to your company. You can find a lot out about who is the best company out there doing what you are doing, and find out why. Be open to the answer.