Women are not only in business across the capital, they’re owning it. Here at Workspace we’re celebrating the day as a testament to the millions of women who have and will take steps to allow the future generations of women to be oblivious to their gender having any impact on their success at work, because it shouldn’t.
The landscape is definitely shifting, and there are more and more articles and spaces where women at work are given the time and space they deserve to add to the conversations we have about business as a whole. Even pop culture is pointing towards a celebration of women taking the lead in business – from Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In to books like #Girlboss. They bring to the surface the issues that women face in the workplace and provide a hefty amount of inspiration. We’ve been keeping the conversation going ourselves, with some stories and interviews from our very own Workspace Customers.
Mandy Chan is the European Office Services Supervisor & Global Travel Manager for Mozilla. Based at Metal Box Factory Mozilla build ‘open, innovative technologies that allow developers to work free of closed, corporate ecosystems and create faster, safer web experiences for us all.’ Mandy shared with us how she got started at some of her advice for other women in business.
“The journey I have been on is not what I had originally planned out for myself - I wanted to be a Physiologist when I was in school!
“The desire to always do better and to show myself, as well as others, what I am capable of has given me plenty of motivation, but having a manager that trusts you and believes in you is a major part of success. I work with an amazing team who operate from seven different locations around the world. Despite the distance, we are so successful because of our constant communication, transparency, and our supportive and positive attitude. I have learned you have to be patient and not take over others’ jobs for them. If you show that you trust them with a task and believe in them it can have a hugely positive effect.
Pull quote: the most important lesson I’ve learned is to always remember who I am, have confidence in what I do, say "yes" and just got for it. Plus remain optimistic no matter what happens!
The best thing about my role is that I can be myself; I love socialising, being around people and connecting with them. Having the opportunity to interact with people from around the world, not only supporting them but learning from them is a highlight of my job.
“My biggest challenge is switching off my work mode at the end of the day. I find so much drive and passion in what I do that I am trying to learn to put down whatever I am doing when the day is over and be fully present in everything else. I have taken courses to develop self-awareness in this area and am constantly practising!
“At the end of the day, although you cannot control everything, you can decide how you act on things that come your way at work and in life. Use everything as a motivation to do better. Everything has worked out so well, but at the same time I know I have worked hard for what I have achieved. I think luck comes to those who put in effort towards their goals.”
“I’ve been lucky to have lived in a few very different places. At 13, I moved from Hong Kong to Norwich, UK alone to go to a boarding school, then at 25 I moved to Australia for a couple of years and now I work in London. I have worked as a personal assistant, sales representative and even did a stint as a kids’ party planner! Although these roles seem nothing alike, they all helped me to grow. I believe every experience was a stepping stone towards my goals, whether I knew it at the time or not.
“For the last two years, I have worked at Mozilla in the Workplace Resources team and I have learnt and taken on so much more than I ever expected to. I did not imagine that I would be managing our European offices and the Global Travel program. Looking back now, throughout all my travels and jobs, the most important lesson I’ve learned is to always remember who I am, have confidence in what I do, say "yes" and just got for it. Plus remain optimistic no matter what happens!
Defeating The Dragons
Working from The Shaftesbury Centre, Chika Russel is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to business. After all, she faced The Dragons in Dragon’s Den and won backing for her company Chika’s – creating delicious snacks inspired by Chika’s West African heritage. We asked her some questions about what she thinks it takes to be a business woman today.
How did you get where you are today and who or what helped you along the way?
I got here through self-belief, positivity and dedication. My mum, my sister, my husband and the mentors whom I now consider friends have helped me - through their encouragement, unwavering belief in me and just their brain power I have found a path forward. Each of them have been involved in the business in one way or another.
What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring others?
They are all quite different but also, I feel, intertwined. Each of them requires upfront-honesty, positivity and self-confidence.
To be a successful entrepreneur and execute any business ideas or strategy, you have to be a good leader. And a good leader should have the ability to mentor, coach and instil belief in others who are less sure of themselves.
Would you say luck has played any part in your success?
I do not think that any level of success can wholly be attributed to hard work. There are other things that have to work in your favour. Someone would call it luck but I wouldn't. I am blessed.
What is the best thing about what you do?
Flexibility. Every day I am fortunate enough to play many roles: I get to be the best Mummy I can be because I spend every morning with my kids and drop them to school; I go to a place called an 'office' but where I spend time working and laughing with people that I like; I meet with my friends who are mentors and they enrich my life further. This allows me to enrich the lives of my colleagues and friends in my office.
Then after a hard, tough day's work (spent with people I like - poor old me!) I am able to sit and exchange ideas with my husband who is also my best friend about things that we both find exciting.
Lessons in leadership
Meet Marnie Ashe, General Manager of Reload Digital based at The Leathermarket. Working for a digital marketing agency that’s experienced a major growth spurt has taught her a lot about facing challenges head on.
I’ve been the General Manager of Reload Digital for the past year and a half and I was lucky enough to progress through the company’s head office in Australia for more than five years before this role.
After a couple of years working in an in-house marketing role when I was at university, I realised I really wanted the challenge and variety of working with a range of clients and that my strengths were in solving strategic problems and developing plans, so I started at Reload as a Marketing Consultant.
Working in London had always been a career aspiration for me and I was fortunate that I was working in a company that has a strong commitment to internal career progression. Since arriving in London, I haven’t looked back. My work is so diverse, each and every day is different and offers new challenges.
The company had only 10 staff when I started 7 years ago, and is now over 75 staff globally. The rapid growth of our organisation and constant change within digital marketing drove us to move quickly and gave me the advantage of working across many areas, learning ‘on my feet’ as I progressed through in the company.
Our Directors are focused on creating a culture of autonomy and self-direction, so I have taken on wider opportunities quite quickly and been exposed to areas of business and decision making that I wouldn’t have got anywhere else. Gender diversity has also always been a priority within Reload, and having Directors who were immensely supportive of their up and coming leadership team is a huge advantage.
My biggest leadership take away has been to stop talking and listen to your team. I think as people start out in leadership roles, there can be a tendency to want to solve everyone’s problems with advice and a fear of silence when having one on one conversations. One of the most valuable things you can do as a leader is slow down conversations, ask the right questions and really listen to the response, not just wait for your next opportunity to speak or preparing to ask another question.
Pull quote: My biggest leadership take away has been to stop talking and listen to your team. I think as people start out in leadership roles, there can be a tendency to want to solve everyone’s problems with advice and a fear of silence when having one on one conversations.
Learning to reach out to others for help, support and advice was one of the biggest challenges that I had to overcome, particularly after taking on a leadership role outside of our main market in Australia and being the only person in a leadership role on the ground. Stepping into a leadership role at an early point in my career, I think there can be a tendency to want to look like you always ‘have everything together’ so as a result I would often spend too many hours trying to solve things myself rather than asking for help or advice.
I think luck plays a part in the success of any career, no matter how hard you work. There is always a certain degree of luck and chance that plays into any situation. From being lucky enough to grow up in a first world country and receive an excellent education, right through to the small aspects of my career like meeting the right people at the right time, I never lose sight of the fact there is a certain amount of chance that has got me where I am today.
Feeling inspired? Want to start your own journey to success in a Workspace building? We thought so! Come and see what we have to offer your company and make your mark on the capital.