51: Panel: Women Leaders in Support

51: Panel: Women Leaders in Support

This episode marks a change of pace for a few weeks, as we talk to some groups of leaders about the big topics. This episode coincides with the celebration of International Women’s Day, and asks, “Are we there yet?”.


I’d love your thoughts on this episode! Comment below, and like/love/share/support if you found this inspiring, thought-provoking, or useful!

Charlotte Ward 0:13 

Hello and welcome to session 51 of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward.

Today five leaders talking with me about women in support leadership. Today I’d like to welcome some awesome leaders to the podcast. First up is Lauren Rose Eimers . Lauren is a support lead from Big Cartel and she’s constantly using her background as a mental health counsellor, and genetic counsellor to better navigate the tech and support spaces. I’d also like to welcome Natalie Petruch-Trent. Natalie is a technical account manager at Pandium coming from five years of experience specialists In customer implementations for eCommerce and entertainment, and also welcome to Erica Mancuso, Erica has for over 15 years built and led client-facing teams for SaaS companies serving the healthcare market, and is currently responsible for service revenue generation at nThrive. And welcome also to Anjelica Tizon, who is part of the Toronto tech community and moved into a customer experience leadership role about a year and a half ago, building teams within customer experience, including user support, professional services, and customer success. She’s currently part of the customer success team at TruFan. And finally, I’d like to welcome Nate Brown. Nate is a student of all things customer experience and co-founder of CXaccelerator. So I’ve gathered all the wonderful leaders here today, on the 18th of March, a little adrift from International Women’s Day, which was My original target for recording this show, but we live in slightly trying times. Nonetheless, I want to really thank you so much for finding time to spend time with me talking about something that isn’t the topic that’s on everyone’s mind. So here we are talking about International Women’s Day. And women in technical support women in customer support women in support leadership, women in leadership in general. And I have some really burning questions. So I’m going to hit the ground running. I’m going to throw open the first topic to the panel and my first topic is to become a leader. Is it enough to do your job well? That’s my kind of headline question here. And around that, I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether you think meritocracy exists as a pure concept at work in the world. What actually works when it comes to becoming a leader and making those strides towards leadership as a female. And what doesn’t work, what needs to change?

Erica Mancuso 3:09 

I’ll, I’ll jump in there. You know, I’ve been in situations where we’ve promoted a top performer or a top individual contributor to management role or leadership role, and it hasn’t worked out so well just because they’re an ideal, you know, they’re an exemplary employee, doesn’t mean they’re going to be a great leader. And I’ve seen that several times throughout my career. I think for individuals wanting to get into more of a leadership role. They kind of have to start, you know, start acting like they’re in a leadership role. You know, taking on a stretch assignment, maybe mentoring others, identifying areas for improvement and running some projects, things like that to really get the folks you know, even above them in their organisation starting to see that they can handle the additional leadership responsibilities.

Natalie Petruch-Trent 4:02 

I would agree, I think that, um, managing up is a really great way to prove that you’re ready for a leadership position, as well as to actually exemplify that in practice. I think that there’s also a large degree of emotional intelligence that’s necessary to become a leader as well. I know that all of the best leaders and mentors that I’ve ever had, in my experience have had a large amount of emotional intelligence as well as emotional vulnerability for their employees that they’re managing

Nate Brown 4:37 

I’ll state it now, I would definitely agree with that. I mean, in my, in my experience thus far, I mean, those leaders that are just really exceptional, it’s almost a motivation and psychology thing. And if you were to go back and ask them, Do you want to be a leader, a leader to further your own career, or do you want to be a leader to help those around you? Those that are great leaders are going to answer I want to help those around versus making my own career something really great and special and something that I can be proud of, you know, it’s that’s just not going to translate to success for anybody except maybe that person and probably not even that person. I love there was a thing on anchor recently where it talked about like the most promotable people that are coming into leadership and the qualities that we look for now, and how different it is than 10 years ago. It’s humble, not arrogant. Servants not self-serving, optimistic, not pessimistic. Think forever, not just today, volunteers, not draftees, self-aware, not selfish, and adaptable, not rigid. And then last teachers, not truant officers, and have the persona is now. Yeah, this person that really authentically wants to serve others and those are the leaders that we can and should be promoting.

Charlotte Ward 5:49 

Yeah. Do you think that there is from that list a particular set of traits that might be more aligned with being a woman in support? Or do you think that all of the qualities and that we’re talking about are non-gender-specific?

Nate Brown 6:12 

I think definitely, women are more equipped to come in with an attitude of humility and servant heartedness. I think that is more of a natural characteristic that, that you have. And that’s wonderful. And that I think is rising to the surface in a really good and positive way. I think we are having to recognise and adapt to the fact that that is so desirable and so positive.

Charlotte Ward 6:38 

So it’s really the landscape of leadership that’s changing, perhaps, and that’s affording more opportunities for everyone.

Natalie Petruch-Trent 6:44 

I would definitely agree with that. I think that dovetailing off of that one of the things about being a leader is the capacity to actually pass down knowledge, absorb knowledge and then disseminate that in ways that are really approachable and an understandable. And I think that’s something that kind of culturally and from a societal perspective is something that females are, you know, sociologically more prone to. And I think that that is also something that the new generation of men coming up is also more prone to, which I think aligns very well with the way that society as a whole is. Moving forward. It’s, even though the US as a whole is generally a very independent society, as a world, I think that we’re all coming to a place where we’re understanding that supporting one another and being more of a community culture is kind of a way to move ahead. And I think that’s a mentality that within leadership that is needing to adjust a little bit.

Charlotte Ward 7:46 

Yeah. So as society changes, do you think that the playing field will just naturally levelled that everyone will eventually be afforded those same opportunities because they are embodying all of those characteristics that we’re now looking for in leaders regardless of their gender or do you, or do you think that there is other change that needs to happen for this to be a pure meritocracy of leadership?

Lauren Rose Eimers 8:16 

I am, I feel we’re a long way off. I love that we are seeing change in our industry. But I think just like we were saying society changing at large is this isn’t just you know, a female I’m doing air quotes a female trait of caring and cultivation, humility, being a teacher. These were all traits that were ascribed to female-identifying people, and it’s society that we have to rewrite that book. This shouldn’t be a female or a female-identifying trait. It should be a human being trait, and some human beings are better teachers are better carers and it has nothing to do with an X or a y chromosome or the gender that you present as or the gender you feel you should be or a gender. I mean, I think we have so far to go I hate to be a Negative Nancy, but I think while we are still taking steps, it is still very clear that we are we as women are women, identifying people are not being given the same opportunities. We aren’t even given the same dang pay still 2020 folks! I’m still earning 77 cents to the dollar of a male counterpart with the same training, the same amount of experience. So yes, this is so much better than it was for my parents and my parents had it so much better than their parents before them. But that being said, I do think talking positively about it and talking about the change, it is going to be a long, long way to go. And then kind of more on the inclusiveness factor. I mean, we’re only… that number is based on white Women the 77 cents to $1. If we start adding those layers of women of colour, you know, women that are transgender, these are things that complicated and I feel if we are truly moving towards inclusivity if we are truly more moving towards letting leaders lead, regardless of how they present as a person, we have a long, long way to go. I’m so sorry to be so negative. But I, while we have come so far, and I know I am enjoying so much. I’m standing on the shoulders of so many of the women and women, women-identifying folks that have built up to here, I worry about my daughter, you know, in the future because I still have so much more work to do myself. So I do think while we’re moving there, we still have a very, very long way to go.

Charlotte Ward 10:51 

I think you raised a few interesting points there, Lauren. First of all, while we are sat here, with the exception of Nate as a panel Women, that privilege and that privilege is a grayscale, isn’t it? There are 50,000 degrees of privilege really, it’s a continuum that we happen to be for the purposes of this one day splitting the general populace into two genders roughly. That, you know, and here we are with approximately half identifying as female, celebrated, advanced on this day. I guess the interesting question that popped into my head is, do we need International Women’s Day or and or is it outdated as a concept already? Do we need something else that represents and talks about celebration and inclusivity and equality that isn’t this gender divide? There are other causes out there? You know, as you mentioned, There are causes around race and around everything else really. But do we need to start representing some of this privilege and lack of privilege in a more grayscale way?

Natalie Petruch-Trent 12:12 

I think I’m just kind of dovetailing off of what Lauren was saying that I think that international Woman’s Day is something that is still very much needed. But I think that it is important that we pay more attention to exactly where you were saying the scale of that there are compounding factors. So while there may not be as much discrimination specifically against female-identifying individuals anymore, there is that compounded by ageism vs racism vs, all the other isms and bringing that to attention that I might not be discriminated upon right now because I’m female-identifying, but I might be discriminated against right now because I’m under the age of 35, and female-identifying or over the age of 60, it’s not just so as women as a whole, we’ve come a lot further, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other factors of our identity that aren’t being discriminated against, in addition to the femininity.

Erica Mancuso 13:18 

Yeah, agree, and you know, do we need an actual day? I think we do right now. It’s very important. I would love to get to a point where we don’t need a day because like Lauren said, you know, our society has changed. But right now, I would probably argue that the remaining 364 days of the year, that’s our men’s days, just with the way our society works,

Charlotte Ward 13:43 

yeah. Okay. All right. Well, let’s move on then, in terms of our discussion points and talk about what we have experienced in our careers, some of those challenges that we’ve come up against, some of which are You know, in the continuation of the discussion we just had around privilege and opportunity. But I’m particularly interested in if you have any personal stories of professional challenges as a woman in support as a woman leader, as a woman in technology, any and all of those things, or perhaps Nate, if you’ve, you’ve seen some of this from the outside some of the challenges. I know you mentioned before we got on-air that you know, you’ve worked with a number of great and inspirational women in this arena. Seeing it from the point of view of a man as well looking at a woman’s experience. So what what what are the biggest professional challenges you’ve experienced or seen and what do you feel has in those circumstances particularly held you back?

Erica Mancuso 14:48 

You know, as I hate to say this, but I think other women have been some challenges in throughout my career, you know, I’m just thinking of, perhaps situations where I’ve been interviewing for an opportunity and the hiring managers and other woman and I like to think that I come across as a fairly confident, you know, capable person. And I feel like there’s been some situations where, you know, everything seemed to be going really well throughout that interview process. And then suddenly it wasn’t, and I can’t get really any kind of feedback about where things went wrong. And, you know, I suspect that perhaps the hiring manager may have felt threatened by me just because I’m also a confident, capable individual. And I hate that I really try to, you know, create opportunities for them. For other women who maybe aren’t quite as far along in their career. I want to mentor other women; I want to help them achieve some of their professional goals. Don’t think that we are going to get anywhere and drive some of the higher-order societal changes that Lauren was talking about. Bye. You know, viewing this as a scarcity kind of thing, right? There is an abundance of opportunity out there for all of us. And, you know, I think we all need to build each other up. And we all need to create opportunities, you know, and get more women into some of these leadership roles so that they can be successful. You know, I fully believe that a rising tide raises all ships.

Charlotte Ward 16:25 

Very true. I do think that part of the issue there, when it comes to hiring managers, and being female and feeling like you are at the mercy of whether they like or dislike you for whatever reason that might be that isn’t specific enough for them to presumably be able to give you the feedback you’re looking for. Do you think that it is jealousy? Or do you think that I mean, I where I’m going with this I’m meandering a little bit, but where I’m going with this I’ve been in those kinds of very similar situations as well with female hiring managers. And I think that for me, part of the problem has been that I don’t necessarily conform to what women expect other women to be liked, and to behave like. And that is because we are all different. We are all still humans and like, you know, like all of us here, we won’t necessarily conform to society’s expectations or another woman’s expectations of us and I, I can tend to be more outspoken than a lot of women, for example, I can be more challenging, I can be ready to kind of enter into conflict and a number of other things, right, that aren’t necessarily traditionally ascribed to the female state. I wonder if it’s, I’m sure sometimes it’s jealousy. But I think also sometimes it’s just of misunderstanding. It’s like the interview equivalent of banging teeth together when you’re kissing an early boyfriend, right? It’s kind of just; there’s something there that just there’s a misfire in the relationship because one of you doesn’t understand the other. And maybe we expect women to understand us because we’re women.

Erica Mancuso 18:23 

That could very much be, you know, part of it Charlotte and I would say that, you know, those things that you just described, perhaps those misunderstandings and the way we show up at work as perhaps, you know, we’re going to challenge the status quo a little bit in certain situations, we’re going to stand up for ourselves, I encounter that with men as well in the workplace, right? So that is not the expectation that they have of me they want me to be more of a quiet you know, agreeable kind of person, but that is not the kind of does not the kind of leader I am, you know, I’m going to stand up for my team as a good leader. Should I, I’m going to, you know, call out risks as I see them. I’m, you know, I’m advocating for my area of the business, which is the responsible thing for any leader to do regardless of gender. But I think that that’s, you know, not always what’s expected.

Natalie Petruch-Trent 19:17 

I think something else that’s worth bringing up is that when I first entered the workforce, I was coming in with some my family my father is, you know, the strong businessman and my mother was more of a caretaker role very stereotypical, white picket fence family. And from a young age, I was very much in the mentality that showing emotions, especially feminine emotions, in a work environment was not acceptable. And coming into the workforce. That was something that I very much had to intentionally work to To eliminate and to get that out of my mindset. I think that that still is there, though for some other females that when approaching more individuals who were their emotions more on their sleeve or can get visibly frustrated about things. That’s not a sign of weakness, but I think that culturally, there is that mentality that it is weakness, and it’s something to be frowned upon. And that’s something that took a really long and hard time for me to acknowledge as a woman who you know, is very much a self-identifying feminist. I’ve been in job interviews, actually one of my original job interviews for an HR position down in Virginia. It was at a police department and they asked if I was mentally and emotionally prepared to deal with the boys’ locker room conversation. But, but yeah, that’s something that even myself having dealt with it and having been in the face of sexism and identifying as feminists still had to mentally work past that preconceived cultural stereotype.

Anjelica Tizon 21:14 

I think that’s interesting because I think for me, my biggest challenge was burying those emotions that are deemed, like feminine or have been ingrained that are feminine. And what I mean by that is that when I first started in tech, first of all, I think the age comes into I’m quite young. And so I was very shy, and that’s just me as a person. I don’t like you know, speaking up until I know all the information and that’s very much how I operated. However, when I raised my hand to start a team or get into a leadership role, the main thing that was said to me was like, Okay, well then you need to speak up or you need to be more aggressive because only women who do that will get recognised or will be Heard basically. And that was literally the words that were given to me as part of feedback for how do I get into a leadership position. But now when I also think about it, like listening to our conversations, I have turned myself into that. And I’m not upset about that. I think I’ve learned a lot about myself and can fight now for what I believe in. And it’s a great new skill I have but I want I’m thinking I’m what I’m hearing is that like, these emotions, now I have to justify them. So if I do speak up about something, and it may be is driven by an emotion, it’s like I have to justify not just like that emotion, but like, logically like, Oh, you have to tie back to the business. And if it’s an emotion, or if it’s an intuition thing, or something I’ve experienced before and I know its not the right path. It’s like Kate, show me the metrics. Whereas I’m not sure if that would happen with anybody All right. So I think for me that’s, that’s like what I literally just realised right now I’m like, this is something I do every single day.

Nate Brown 23:08 

It’s been an interesting journey for me because I’m going into the workforce. And I think I think it was Natalie that made the comment of your heart being on your sleeve. And that was very much me. And I just got pounded and pounded. For that I have years almost a decade’s worth of performance appraisals, where that was called out as being a negative attribute, and was preventing me from being able to move forward in my career and even as soon as last year, being in a meeting and advocating for a group of employees, petitioning for them in a somewhat emotional way. And being lambasted by a fellow employee in front of about 20 people, including my boss, and my boss’s boss, telling me just decide how you want to feel because we’re sick of you switching back and forth with your feelings. And I was literally presenting data. So um, this has been a trouble for me for a long time of trying to sequester the very passionate side of me that I feel like I still really feel like is a strength. And it’s taken a long time for me to find a role in a place where I felt like that actually was viewed as a strength and it’s only happened recently, which is sad and unfortunate.

Lauren Rose Eimers 24:22 

I think we’ve all touched on a super important point, in that women and women-identifying folks are given an incredibly narrow amount of space in which we can operate. We aren’t allowed to get overly emotional but we must show enough passion and fight for what’s right. But we if we are to show those feelings, we must give justification for that. We can’t be we can’t seem weak because we are showing emotion. But we need to be strong if we are soft-spoken. I mean, it’s a double bind. It’s there’s no winning in this situation. And I think it kind of ties back to just the impossibilities that women and women, I people that identify as women are given, and the impossibility of that. So we have a few options. We bust down the current paradigm. I was going to say patriarchy, I was trying not to get too political here. But I mean, back to that scarcity mentality, Erica, that you experienced in your interviews? Well, I don’t think if we were to remove gender, from the entire interview space, you know, operating in a vacuum and just your communication styles, then we could analyse it as such, but each and every one of us is such a nuanced, creative, complicated human being and we bring this backpack of our identity into every one of our interactions. And so you can’t not present as an A woman Erica and your interviewing manager couldn’t not present as a woman as well at that point in time. So that was a part of the equation. But this scarcity mentality, there’s not enough for you to go around. So you have to double down on being one of the guys, Natalie, you have to put up with that locker room talk, you know, Angelica, you aren’t allowed to share your feelings, but you need to be passionate about, you know, the things you want to fight for your team for I mean, basically, we have to do the impossible. And I think, and, Nate, I applaud you for being brave enough to be your true self at work, even. It sounds like after so many years of being told otherwise, and that it’s wrong or that it’s weak or that it’s not going to allow you to climb the ladder. I mean, what I’m hearing to each one of these, the common thread is that it’s not the people that are the problem. It’s the system in which we operate in and we have to bust that down.

Charlotte Ward 26:49 

Yeah, I think when it comes to hiring, you’re absolutely right. If you remove all of the influences that might negatively affect you as a candidate. If you completely were to redesign the perfect system that took away any recognition of your gender, your age, your, you know, the school, you went to whatever, then you really are looking at a list of skills. And that’s a way to do hiring. But that’s, that’s not perfect either. And I think and neither is that really a representation of who we are. As we go into any hiring process. It is, it’s part of who we are, but we bring as you said, all of these other things, we have to bring our whole selves to a hiring process. So it’s, I there’s no one I don’t have the answer for that. I wish I did. I think I feel like I could make a fortune if I did. But do you think they’re Do any of you feel like you have any thread of how we approach being able to hire someone based on their true self and their potential as well as their abilities and the value they’re going to bring to the organisation and to your team with maximising removal of that bias, unconscious or conscious? Is there anything we can do that?

Lauren Rose Eimers 28:25 

I just read about a company that had actually trained AI to parse through, you know, every single resume to hire most fairly? All, you know, identifying factors were taken out. They started looking for keywords, parsing these resumes and cover letters. And guess what? It was still biassed because it was picking up on words like aggressive, ambitious, winner Dewar. And what are these words ascribed within our culture still? So I don’t think that’s the answer, either. I think Erica made a wonderful statement about how, you know you have found success, but you also try to help those behind you. And I don’t think there’s a perfect answer. And I think we are going to continually be figuring it out. But I do know a truth in that you have to leave the door open behind you to help those who are coming up as well. Regardless, you have to show gratitude for where you’ve gotten. But if you aren’t helping someone up once you have higher footing, then you’re not doing it right. I do know that. So that’s my million dollar answer, which is not going to earn me a penny because I’m not inventing anything.

Charlotte Ward 29:43 

I think it’s interesting as well, but we all effectively told the same story that we’d had all these difficulties and then we found the place.

Natalie Petruch-Trent 29:52 

Yeah, very much. So I, in my most recent job, search I actually a very was intentionally searching for a company with a female CEO or a female founder. Just because I had had some negative experiences. Once again, it’s not indicative of all men. I just personally wanted a break from that. And it’s exactly what it was. And what I’m sure a lot of you guys have felt but you walk in, you’re there for a day, a week, a month and you still feel happy to be coming to work every day. You feel supported and a big thing for me was I felt that I was able to be myself and be the best version of myself without having to conform to an identity that someone else was trying to create for me.

Charlotte Ward 30:50 

And I think you know, as time has gone on, and I wrote about this recently, I my degree course was very male, heavy. I was one of about six or eight on a course of… 6 or eight women on that course of 80. And when I went into tech straight out of university, I was one of even fewer women in that space. And I got used to being around men and dealing with men professionally, and putting up with the locker room talk of the late 90s. You know, and I think that I changed my behaviour because of that. Some of that I’ve maintained, because it has helped me and it’s, frankly, it’s become part of who I am right. I mean, our experience is moulder so. I will say also that when I was made redundant in 2003, I went to work temporarily in the HR department, which was all-female, and for six weeks was kind of a living hell for me by comparison. So I think actually You know, for me that it’s not so much about finding female-heavy environments or targeting the environment based on the gender of the people that I might be working with. And for, for me, for me, it’s about finding an environment that values me as an individual and recognises what I can bring and what I can achieve with and for them,

Natalie Petruch-Trent 32:20 

and also an environment that understands that, you know, men and women have priorities outside of work, right. We have families, we have kids that get sick at school, and sometimes, sometimes that impacts your workday. It’s unfortunate when that happens. But you know, I’d say I’ve been fortunate to work for organisations that understand that and you know, it isn’t always just my husband or my job to get the kids when they’re sick from school or take them to the doctor’s or wherever they need to go. My husband helps with that substantially as well. So I think one thing that’s been helpful to me throughout my career is to have an organisation that allows for that, but also a spouse that is supportive like that as well.

Charlotte Ward 33:04 

So let’s move on to our next discussion point then, which is, I hope, a more positive one now that we have decided there really isn’t much we can do about society right now, but maybe given time we can. But again, I’m interested in what your personal stories are on the positive side, what, who’s had the who or what really has had the biggest positive influence over your career and have had a massively positive impact on your professional life.

Natalie Petruch-Trent 33:36 

I feel like I’m talking a lot here. So I apologise about that. But I definitely do have a lot of feelings about this. A mentor in specific that I really loved and appreciated and really, really do try to base at least a portion of my managerial style off of is my mentor when I was at Handshake, Not the recruiting one b2b commerce. But my manager at the time was very, very open and very transparent about bandwidth work-life balance and then also mental health. I think in today’s day and age especially, that’s just really a huge thing. But him, trusting me and communicating to me that he had had anxiety and depression struggles in his past. That’s something that I was able to identify with and something that I was a lot more comfortable talking to him about and how that translated into impacting or not impacting my work life. And then, in my own managerial experiences, I was able to use my own mental health struggles to relate to members of my team who needed accommodations based off that and I think that’s just something that will always stick with me and something that I always try to hold true to

Nate Brown 35:00 

For me, it wasn’t as much of a boss. I mean, we kind of had this fascinating thing happened where there was this diversity and inclusion initiative that was rolled out inside of a major enterprise organisation. And just really seemed like it missed the mark, in terms of actually serving the people that it was meant to serve in a meaningful way, felt like a very check the box type of scenario. And I was able to wrestle through that with many of my female peers, because I wanted to participate, like very much as like, I want to help with this, and did not feel like I was allowed to participate are to help with that, with that initiative in any meaningful way. And, and through their voice and through their assistance. I was able to really reconcile a lot of the things that were going on in the heart behind a lot of this dialogue of, we just need to learn to be more authentic and to serve each other better here, and to change some of the narrative and some of the stereotypes that are going on around roundness and it helped me to identify a lot of my own bias. As a young leader, I just want to promote the person that I feel most comfortable with, which naturally is going to be probably some dude, that I feel comfortable hanging out with. That’s not. That’s not how the world can operate. And that’s not the way the world should operate. So it was actually my peer group, not a boss, who helped me to wrestle with my own bias and understand it, and hopefully, at least to most of the degree overcome it.

Charlotte Ward 36:31 

Why did you think that that programme was hitting them was missing the mark? What was that that struck you particularly wasn’t quite right?

Nate Brown 36:39 

one of those where they would, they would celebrate the wonderful things that they had all accomplished, before anything actually happened. And they would do that publicly. Before anything inside the organisation changed at all. Well, it was my opinion and my interpretation of that, which gave me the opinion of that this is just a dog and pony show. This is them just trying to give an impression to the outside world, that they are doing a thing to give a perception and give an appearance, when in reality, nothing inside this house has changed.

Charlotte Ward 37:11 

I think we’ve all been in organisations like that. Do you think that aspiring female leaders and I’m alluding to something Erika and Lauren touched on before about leaving the door open? Do you think that aspiring female leaders need mentors and advocates? And do you think those mentors and advocates need to be other women?

Erica Mancuso 37:38 

I think all leaders can benefit from mentors. But I do certainly think it’s helpful to have leaders, female leaders paired up with other female leaders. I think that you know, there is this crazy world out there that we’re trying to navigate and it very much still is a man’s world and We are forced to adapt to it in many cases. But I think it helps to have someone who can show you how to approach situations constructively and how to navigate that very narrow way of being that Lauren described. And hopefully, as we’re doing that, push it open a little bit wider so that the women behind us, you know, aren’t held to such a double standard.

Charlotte Ward 38:31 

Yeah, so it’s not really a thin one, one in a time. Eventually a stream of people coming through those doors that you’re holding open.

Anjelica Tizon 38:42 

I also think especially for younger woman who might be just starting or looking to move into leadership positions from individual contributors. It’s just easier to see yourself there when you see somebody there already. And, you know, But they’ve done it and you know that it’s possible. I think it really does touch on Erica’s point of like, yeah, you just, you just need that connection or you need somebody to help you navigate through that. And if you’ve never done it before, it’s just going to be that much harder. And I think touching on the managing up, like, that’s definitely the biggest struggle that I had when going into a management position. How do you do that in such a narrow thing? Um, so I think having someone there who’s gone through before is so much easier and provides so much value. And it’s just encouraging really, especially for somebody a little bit younger and earlier on in their career,

Natalie Petruch-Trent 39:40 

I’d say too the other benefit of having a female mentor, maybe someone who’s a little bit further ahead in their career than you are is that you have the benefit of having their advocacy. And I think that that is so important. You know you are working on earning a seat at the table. You’re working on being seen as a credible, professional individual, and I think it definitely helps to have someone out there that is already perceived as that advocating for you.

Charlotte Ward 40:10 


Anjelica Tizon 40:11 

The last thing I would add there is I think that we all need mentors that we can relate to them will lift us up. But I think that we all need mentors, across genders that will also challenge our perspectives. I mean, I think that all women should have woman mentors and all woman should have male mentors and vice versa. I think just diversity and opinions is always a good idea to surround yourself with.

Lauren Rose Eimers 40:37 

And also speaking as a mentor to others. I learned so much from the people that I mentor that comes to me as well. It’s a two-way street. It doesn’t have to be unidirectional. It’s not just like the mentor passing down all this knowledge, which sometimes I wish it were with my own personal mentors. I’m like, Can you just tell me the answer please like for the last you’ve walked this path, like, tell me what the protocol is, please give me the answer. Don’t make me work this out until each and every time after I’ve carved the path on my own. I’m so glad they did. And I was thinking about the people who have made such an impact on me in my career. And I think it’s truly an even split between men and women. Although I will say the men that have truly helped me and supported me and advocated for me, also showed me that being soft and being sensitive and being caring and being open and showing your emotions, okay, this was and this is in the clinical setting before I made the jump to tech, but in the medical world, there’s also kind of like this, this cool, calm exterior, you have to maintain and the clinicians that were mailed that I got to work alongside that had the biggest impact not only on me, but on the patients we were serving. Were the human beings were the people that were caring. Consider it and wanting to help. And I think probably the most hardline mentors were female, who were like, don’t you cry in front of a crowd and I don’t care. If you have morning sickness, you get up there and you defend your thesis, and you kick some ass and you come back and then you puke. Like don’t even give me this stuff. So, honestly, I can’t even describe, you know, air quotes around female or male traits. But I can say that my mentors learned a lot from me too. So it’s, it’s a gift to be able to have that interaction and that relationship, not only for yourself to grow as a leader, but also again, challenging your perspectives, making you look at things in a different way. The brain is so great at convincing yourself that your point of view is correct. And if you lose that curiosity, and that ability to listen, pardon me, I think that’s when you stop leading and you just start managing. And we, we all know how difficult it is to be like a leader. But I think it’s something that we all should aspire to.

Charlotte Ward 43:10 

I’m with you, I think that actually I kind of like to get away from the idea of mentors and mentees like it’s a one-directional process. I think that I have, even now, in this stage in my career, I still learn from my mentees as well. And even if I’m giving advice, I’m still learning You know, I’m, what I extract from those experiences isn’t necessarily always advice in return. It’s kind of consolidation of my own coaching skills or whatever, you know, but there is always a two-way aspect to it. So I think I think that’s really worth bearing in mind. Do you think that dare I say Older female leaders or maybe female leaders with more experience with a slightly more politically correct way of putting it that women with more experience in the workplace needs to be reminded to be mentors need to be reminded to leave that door open?

Natalie Petruch-Trent 44:21 

Yes, potentially, you know, I think going back to the idea of this, you know, man’s world that we’ve lived in for so long, and they’ve great for them for finding success in that world. kudos to them, but the world looks a lot different now than probably when they were coming up through the ranks. So yes, it probably would be beneficial for them to be reminded of that, right. And again, I think it kind of goes back to that idea of, you know, there’s only one leadership position and I’ve got it and there’s not enough to go around and I worked hard to get here and I’m going to prove That, which is not really a characteristic, in my opinion of an excellent leader, but there are definitely women out there, probably of the older generation who tend to be like that a little bit.

Lauren Rose Eimers 45:15 

I think the scarcity mentality, it doesn’t discriminate. I think the scarcity mentality is alive and well across all age groups. But I don’t want to negate the fight that the generation before me had to make when they were the only woman, you know, in their division, or if they, there wasn’t any recourse for having to put up with the kind of harassment that I think most of us are lucky enough to think is an absolute impossibility in our workplaces at this point in time. So to protect yourself is to build a shell right? And after years of cultivating that shell, it’s going to take time to break it down and realise, like I’m not here for your job. I want you to help me get another job done. Like there’s enough pie for us all, everyone gets pie, we all get pie, like, you don’t have to even have to hoard the whole thing, right? So let’s share and like let’s say, I mean, my slice of pie is gonna look way different than all of yours because my skills are different, like my communication style is different. I mean, I’m not going to be a great fit at a lot of companies. I’m also going to be an amazing fit at a few and so if we help each other, find those places, and back to what Charlotte was saying, like, not based on how I present, but my emotional intelligence, my skill set, you know, my experiences, my ability to grow into a great leader like these are all things you have to take into consideration. So I completely agree. I think the shell that has been cultivated to exist in just a few years ago in the world as a woman or a woman, identifying individual, female-identifying individual I’m sorry, I’m human I’m frazzled today, lots of my bandwidth only goes so far and I’m using incorrect terminology at this point. But that being said, I think if we help people understand that vulnerability, again isn’t a weakness anymore. vulnerability is truly what makes you a kind, connected, caring leader. Maybe we can kind of retrain those warriors that had to just really fight their way through that glass ceiling.

Erica Mancuso 47:26 

We need more people, men and women reading for Brene Brown.

Lauren Rose Eimers 47:31 

I keep saying if we all just went to therapy, and we all had a therapist, and of course, I’m biassed, since I’m a therapist, like we’d be doing a lot better to have someone who is not involved in the situation. Listen to you for 15 minutes. Like that’s really healing. So anyway, I’ll leave my link to my private counselling. I’m just kidding. But I think that we all could read a little more bearnaise for sure.

Charlotte Ward 47:55 

I think as someone who started their career in in the Kinda mid-90s As I said before, in a really male-heavy environment that I definitely moulded my behaviour to suit that environment. And it is, as you know, it was a different time, the workplace was a different place, people behaved differently, expectations were different on both sides. And some of the things that I experienced would be intolerable now, as you said, Lauren, they really would. I, you know, that’s kind of I’m okay with that because I recognise the world is changing for the better. I have to compartmentalise that and actually what’s kind of odd as I think about it more in recent years is that I’m okay with the world being like that back then. You know, that’s how it was. And that was a different thing. to how it is now, the only thing I have to remember is that just because I experienced some of the things that I experienced and got through some of the things I got through and break down some of the barriers that I’ve broke down, that I have to be aware of saying to people in mentoring, you know, it’d be very easy for me to say, Well, I did it back then you’ve just got to be this, you’ve got to be that you’ve got to do that. And then it works, right? Because I had to make it work. And, of course, not necessarily those same behaviours that worked for me then will work now because the world is different, but also, I don’t think it’s fair to have those expectations of younger women now, and neither should we have to have those expectations now. So I kind of I guess where I’m going with this is that I do recognise that I went through some things that I think we’re kind of unforgivable but Same time I’m able to I hope or at least I tried to compartmentalise them to history, you know, it was a different thing. And all I can do now is try as a more experienced woman, in tech, in leadership in support in all of those things is to try and help other people in the environment as it exists now. And I’m still learning that environment the same as we all learn

Natalie Petruch-Trent 50:26 

on even with that, it’s, it’s still incredibly different, even within our own industry. And depending on what vertical you’re working in, it can still be a much more male-dominated or much more female-identifying dominated. I know that, you know, the harder tech for reference is still predominantly male, whereas the, I’m doing the quotes, but the softer attack might be more female-oriented at this time or have more female-identifying individuals. And that’s something that we’re still fighting against still working towards. And I think that another big barrier of getting more female mentors and just more mentors in general like, regardless of gender, is I think that the younger generation really is dealing with imposter syndrome. There there was so them versus us mentality with us coming into the workforce, that I feel like that’s kind of the number one component that a lot of people in their late 20s are getting to an age where they are very dominant and important leaders in their industry. And they still can’t help but feeling like a child to a degree.

Charlotte Ward 51:47 

Yeah, so Natalie, you segue very nicely into discussion point four, which is all about demons. So I’d love to sort of briefly and to give our listeners some context, I’d kind of hoped to Get to five points today. So we’re on point four. But I’d love to, I’d love to kind of feel out how we feel what our demons are. Imposter syndrome is the big one, isn’t it? It’s the one we all familiar with that is there have been? I mean, I’ll guess the number 200,000 blog posts written about imposter syndrome, right? How do you is that your demon? Have you got different demons and how do you overcome them?

Natalie Petruch-Trent 52:31 

I think that is probably one of my demons. That being said, it’s a demon that I feel I’ve mostly overcome at this point, especially when I was doing a lot of work more in b2b e-commerce it was mind-boggling to me that I’m sitting here as then let’s say like 24-year-old woman dealing with hundreds of thousand dollars in transactions and that if I press one button and this entire business is going to blow up. I feel like at moments like that, it’s, it would almost feel a little bit weird not to feel imposter syndrome. But, but I feel that the way that you can really get the only way that you can really get over that is just by surrounding yourself with a support network of people who believe in what you do. And also just looking at the work in front of you and validating yourself that you really are doing amazing things.

Anjelica Tizon 53:28 

Yeah, for sure. I think imposter syndrome is literally my biggest. It’s my like, every day, and I think that’s amazing that you’ve got through it, Natalie, but like, I’m like, definitely just at the beginning of it. So you know, let’s talk but um, I think I think the biggest thing that has helped me again, I’m not over it yet, but is just the leaders that I have had and I’ve been very fortunate to have just been so transparent and I’ve been able to go to them and say Who, who put me in charge of this? Or who thought I could do this like that much candour? I was very lucky to have that. And honestly, even up to the senior leadership team at my old company, they when I would ask them a question and be like, I don’t know, this is the first time I’m doing it. And the founders, it was their first time doing creating a tech company and they had that, like candour and that transparency to say, I literally have never done this before. And I think that is so powerful and when I am now trying or hiring people, that’s what I really try to instil I believe it’s authenticity and transparency and it literally just being a human. I think that ties into everything that we’ve talked about, but having that human humaneness to you and just literally saying, I don’t know, but I’ll help you through this has so much power. It’s so simple, but it’s so much power.

Erica Mancuso 55:00 

Yeah, and you hit on a kind of interesting idea there, Angelica, he said, You know, this is the first time we’re all doing this, I feel like as soon as I realised that, like, Hey, I don’t have to know all the answers, I don’t need to know how to do this, right, you know, right out of the gate and YouTube, you know, approach things with a sense of inquiry and curiosity. And, you know, how are we going to solve these problems, but I feel like once I really came to realise that that was a turning point for me in my career, right. Like, I always thought that the people further along in their career, knew all the answers and, and had the right way of doing things. And what I realise is they’re really good at acting like they have the right answers. They’re doing the right things, but, you know, they don’t always know exactly, the next best step to proceed. And that was, that was really helpful for me, professionally to really understand that.

Charlotte Ward 55:53 

I think that’s really a key part of my experience over the last couple of years as well, but I’ve been freelancing in this space for a couple of years, and when I started as a consultant, I still thought that consultants had to know everything before they consulted in the field. And what I’ve come to realise is that consultants know, possibly even less than we do. They’re just willing to say, you know what, what I’m going to do is sell you some time to go and research that and figure out how you need to do it or what advice I need to give you. That’s consultancy, right? And I think that what being in that position has helped me do over the last couple of years is say yes, more. Before I know the answers. And if somebody now says, Can you do this? I say yes, I just say yes, because I’ve realised, I’ve got a relatively decent amount of brain cells. I can figure it out. Can you do that? Yes, absolutely.

Natalie Petruch-Trent 57:01 

That is, I think, fantastic career advice to anybody listening. And I think probably more so as women than men, we tend to, you know, look at the entire task and and and evaluate how do we stack up? How am I able to do that instead of really looking at it as a learning experience and you know what I might fail, but I’m going to learn something. You know, I think men tend to be a little bit more prone to taking that risk-taking that leap of faith and they’re, they’re going to figure it out. So I think your advice there is spot on say yes, more often.

Charlotte Ward 57:37 

Mm hmm.

Natalie Petruch-Trent 57:38 

to the things that that that really matter, right? Don’t say yes to the Hey, I’m going to coordinate the birthday cake for this month’s birthdays in the office. That is not the stuff we should be saying yes to. We need to be saying yes to the big hairy projects that you know that our that we’re going to learn something by going through the pain

Lauren Rose Eimers 58:01 

I’m sorry,

Charlotte Ward 58:02 

sorry, I was just saying the big stuff, but also the stuff that just takes us into little new territories that can be equally valuable. It can be little things, it can be a little bit of writing, a little bit of mentoring, a little bit of advice, a little tiny project. But if you’re putting these tendrils out in places that are a little bit unfamiliar to you, but you’re willing to take those small risks it really, it builds your knowledge and it builds your confidence and it builds your ability to say yes, again.

Lauren Rose Eimers 58:34 

It does. I was just going to say as well instead of saying yes to planning office, birthday parties or taking notes during meetings, which part knows all that saying yes to job postings, if you don’t fill out every single line item on that posting, still put your hat in the ring. I think research has backed this up where women really don’t go out for jobs or positions, because they don’t already feel every single one of those job descriptions. And honestly, again, saying yes to that, even if you, you know, even if it’s a long shot, and even if no is a 99.9% possibility, I will say in my life, I’ve heard no, a lot. And I am definitely not the poster person for success at this point in my life. But I will tell you every time I’ve heard no, I know for a fact that I’ve given it my all ice I definitely stretched and reached for something that scared the living daylights out of me. And I really approached it as my sis white husband would. Which sounds awful, but, you know, he looks at things and he’s like, I can give it a try. And I want to use that same level of confidence. Where I can say, you know what, I’m a capable Individual, I’ve done hard things in the past. I’m going to give it a try. And honestly, oftentimes, the worst thing that can happen is that they say no. And then you’re just one. You’re one no closer to that. Yes. Where you’re the best fit. Yeah, we’re going to be a fulfilling job that lights you up. Like Natalie was saying, after a day, a week, a month, years, you’re like, this is my space and I work with people I care about I work for a company that I’m behind what they are putting out into the world and it can happen it sounds so I’m trying to like counter my like, Oh my gosh, everything’s awful to a more bright perspective, I don’t think everything’s awful. But I think if you back to quote Brene Brown, like if you dare to fail greatly, soon you won’t be soon you will be succeeding. And it’s okay to fall and it’s okay to fail. And it’s okay to hear no, my ego is it’s been bruised a lot, but I can actually I can handle it. Like, I’m still here to talk about it. And it’s the same thing I would tell my clients or my patients in the same position, or the people that I mentor like, no isn’t a terrible thing. It’s just it’s not the plan that you had and it puts you on a different course that will be your course. Yeah, there’s,

Charlotte Ward 1:01:18 

I have two things I really want to hook on to you there from what you said, Lauren? One is that, you know, yeah, the worst they can I always tell people when they say do you think I could apply to this job? Do you think or should I say yes. Because of what we just talked about? Yes, you should. My schpeel is it takes kind of two, two. There are two parts to it really two parts to my reasoning that I present to said job Hunter. The first is exactly what you said that the know is just another one to get out of the way before the Yes. Don’t be afraid of the nose and there will be plenty of them because 99 point something per cent of resumes are not even seen by human eye. Right? So it’s not a human looking at you as another human and saying, No. It’s just a computer says no, who cares, right? The second thing that I always say is, what is the worst that can happen? they can ignore you. They’re already doing that if you don’t apply, they’re already ignoring you. So apply anyway. And you’re in no worse off position. Right. So those are my two key pieces of advice to Job Hunters. Yeah, yeah. I think there’s a couple of and it’s just about getting out getting a little bit of bravery as we were talking before, just the little things just is taking that small leap into a small leap of faith that you can apply. And you can survive and know if you feel you can survive and no, you should definitely go for it. Okay. All right, should we move on to our final discussion point which could be a really long one, or could be really quickly depending on how we’re feeling at this stage of the call, which is just a really simple question. What’s your one piece of advice to other women?

Lauren Rose Eimers 1:03:12 

Well, mines, short mines short and sweet, and it’s just a distillation of what we’ve talked about over the whole call is truly, everyone is making it up as they go. Truly. Because once you get into a leadership position, you realise that the people who promoted you, they had no idea what they were doing either until they figured it out. So one, people are making it up as they go. And two, it’s okay to hear no. And just to, to just reach a little bit further, get a little bit more uncomfortable than you usually would, because comfort zones aren’t where growth occurs. And if you’re not growing, you know, you’re stagnating. So everyone’s making it up and get a little scared once in a while. And all along, last thing, leave the door open behind you. Right? That’s the most important one. Actually, I should have started with that. But those are my tips.

Charlotte Ward 1:04:09 

You were only allowed one by the way, but we’ll give you those three because they’re good ones.

Natalie Petruch-Trent 1:04:16 

I would say that mine’s pretty similar. I’ve been watching a lot of that Shia LeBuff buff video that just do it one where he gives a big long motivational speech. And um, I would say that would be it, just do it just be your most authentic self. Just go ahead and do all the things that you want to do. And if it doesn’t work out entirely the way that you expected it to, then you’ve created your, your own path that’ll lead to something else great. It doesn’t matter what everyone else in the world is doing. It doesn’t matter what they’re thinking about you. You’re just being your most authentic self to bring yourself joy in whatever manner that means for you.

Erica Mancuso 1:04:53 

So Lauren. You took mine when you said leave the door open behind you, so maybe it’s okay, I’ll expand on on the idea. Have you know, when you hear those nose, don’t take it personally, right? It does not define who you are as a person and you just have to, you know, brush it off and keep trying and not be scared to try again.

Anjelica Tizon 1:05:14 

I think mine Oh, you all took mine! I think one quote that’s coming to my head that one of my VPS told me was rise to a level of failure. And that sounds so weird. But it goes back to what you said, learn about comfort zone, you don’t grow in your comfort zone. You don’t. You don’t thrive in your comfort zone. If you get those yeses and you feel like you’re comfortable, that’s great. You’re doing great work. But if you really want to push yourself and learn, you’ll get to a level where you know you’re gonna fail, but you’re going to try it anyway. And you’re going to learn from it. And that’s just going to make you so much better and so many different way, so say yes. So you can rise that level of failure.

Charlotte Ward 1:06:06 

All really important great pieces of advice, I’m going to add with two of my favourites, which are just around, kind of around being a role model and leaving the door open and all of those things. One is that I think that we’ve established that mentors, advocates, whatever we want to call them can come in any shape or form. They can be any gender, they can be any nationality, they can be any age. None of those things are a prerequisite to being a good role model. And I think that we should all endeavour to be those good role models because I really think that you can’t be what you can’t see. Thank you so much. Thank you so much, everybody for taking part I’m going to wrap up there and say this has been a very informative and wonderful and entertaining discussion and inspiration. discussion and thank you all again. But it was never expected to be anything less than that all of those things right? Thank you so much. That’s it for today. Go to customersupportleaders.com/51 for the show notes and I’ll see you soon.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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