Connecting with, learning from, and lifting up other female leaders is in my DNA, so when presented with an invite to join Chief earlier this year, I enthusiastically accepted. Chief is a private network for women in executive leadership, and while founded in 2019, it recently expanded its reach nationwide and started offering virtual memberships. Since my first day as a part of the Chief community, I’ve been impressed with the tremendous camaraderie, energetic support, and deep insight shared.
As we mark International Women’s Day, and embrace this year’s theme of #BreakTheBias, I wanted to take a new approach. Last year, I highlighted the astounding brilliance of Amanda Gorman, and the year prior, on the cusp of COVID lockdowns, I discussed our persistent, ongoing fight toward a more gender-equal world.
To celebrate #IWD2022, instead of sharing only my own thoughts, I reached out to the Chief network. I thought I’d amplify a few fellow leaders, learn how others were marking the holiday, and maybe get some good advice. Wow, did I get so much more!
In fact, I was blown away by the response! I had originally planned on highlighting two or three women, their stories and their advice for fellow women in business, and instead I found myself with a treasure trove of content. Fellow Chief members filled my inbox with their personal stories, heartfelt and compassionate advice, favorite quotes, and so much more. With this much good stuff, I’d be remiss to do only one blog post on International Women’s Day. So, today, I’m kicking off a three-part series featuring several of the fantastic leaders in the Chief network.
Be sure to follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter to be in the loop when we launch the next posts in the series. And while you’re at it, be sure to follow all of the amazing women below (their profiles are linked!).
What better way to kick off the series than to hear how others are recognizing International Women’s Day, both in their personal and professional lives? I asked my CHIEF network to share their plans, and here’s what they told me…
Asha Aravindakshan, VP, Operations at Sprinklr
For International Women’s Day 2022, I have a few ways that I am celebrating this year.
I am speaking on a panel of female alumni discussing STEM and social change to students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Then, I am presenting concepts from my career development book, Skills: The Common Denominator, to a women’s employee resource group at a Fortune 100 technology company. I hope that the professional and personal stories can influence the next generation of women in the workplace.
Also, I am celebrating the publication of Chief member Ilana Raia’s The Epic Mentor Guide: Insider Advice for Girls Eyeing the Workforce from 180 Boss Women Who Know, a book to which I contributed. In it, I advise young women how to leverage their transferable skills as progress in their careers.
Yuying Chen-Wyn, Chief Product Officer at Barnes & Noble Education, Inc.
On the personal side, I usually do girls’ night out with my mom and my daughter; the boys have to cook for themselves! On the professional side, I’m considering giving the women on my team half of the day off. This was a practice we had at one of my previous companies, and I’d like to implement this initiative for my team.
Aravinda Gollapudi, Technology Executive at Sage
I am chairing a panel discussion around breaking the bias. I will be discussing my journey as a woman of color and an immigrant. I will be talkin about how I overcome bias, which female role models impacted my career and discuss how we can empower women at my company. We will also be discussing topics such as:
• Don’t aim to please, but aim for respect
• Building confidence through practice
• Relying on mentors/role models for support
As for me personally, I will continue to mentor and champion women leaders and ensure that I advocate for diversity in mindset and opportunities. As a mother of 2 smart, brilliant young women, I will aspire to be a strong role model for them.
Rebecca Hughes, VP of Supplier Product Experience at AvidXchange, Inc.
Our Women @ AvidXchange Meetup is currently the largest D&I employee resource group in the organization, with well over 150 active members who drive a variety of activities for our company. March 8th is an exciting day at AvidXchange, because it is an opportunity to highlight the amazing women making an impact in and outside of the business. Our Women @ AvidXchange Meetup will host several events and activities all month long to celebrate women.
As for me personally, I will take time that day to reach out and share personal messages of gratitude and connectedness to the women in my life who have inspired me to become a better version of myself. So many others created space for me to grow and an opportunity to have a voice. Friends, mentors, coaches, family members — I like to share a memory or story of how they impacted my life.
Anu Mandapati, VP, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Talking Talent
Every year for International Women’s Day I offer pro-bono leadership coaching sessions to help more women step into senior-level leadership roles. And in return, they’re each asked to provide an hour of mentoring to another woman. They make the same ask of those they mentor. We have a tremendous ripple impact.
Ishita Majumdar, VP, Data Analytics Platforms at eBay
I am organizing a special roundtable event for the approximately 75 women in my Data Analytics Platforms organization across the U.S. and China. Our leaders will moderate the discussion and we will talk about the Integration of Work and Life. Maintaining balance looks different for everybody, and we can share our learnings and encourage one another in this area. It will be a hybrid event with some folks in person and others on Zoom and I am looking forward to celebrating with everyone!
Additionally, in partnership with the HR team, we designed a mentorship program for senior women leaders in our broader Core Technology organization to help keep them engaged, connected, and growing their skills and strengths. I am honored to be one of the mentors to talk about leadership, influence, and negotiation. I am the only female mentor involved and am working closely with three male mentors. We are creating an allyship of men and women mentoring women. We are rolling out the program this quarter and I’m excited to see how it goes!
Shuchi Mittal, VP, Digital Transformation Platform at Fiserv
In the past years pre-Covid, I have spent time with close girlfriends, getting breakfast or lunch. This year, in addition to spending time with my girlfriends, I plan to expand my network of women executives through CHIEF and active participation in the different forums on the network.
Edwige Robinson, SVP, Central Region, Networking Engineering and Operations at T-Mobile
International Women’s Day is a day to first stop, pause and acknowledge all the hard work that’s been done by the amazing women that impact our global society, as well as the ones who impact my daily life within my community and my industry. Next, I take inspiration from those incredible women and recommit myself to my own plans and put them into action. I’m reminded that life is a journey, and we need to stay committed despite any obstacles and challenges we will face. We must remain committed because the generation behind us is counting on us to succeed.
I am planning to use my platform as an SVP at T-Mobile to hold a special event with our top-level leadership to take a deep dive to explore the impact of bias on organizational culture with regard to Executive Women in Leadership. I want to ignite hope that these issues are being uncovered at the top level. The possibilities are endless when we come together, take action, and support each other.
Caryne Say, VP, B2B Marketing at The Knot Worldwide
I just moved to Miami and became a member of CHIEF, a private network of female executives in leadership. We are a pretty active group in Miami and many fellow Chief members are planning to get together to celebrate this momentous day.
I recently had the privilege of hearing Michelle Obama as she addressed the Chief network. She’s such an inspirational force. I’m currently reading her book, Becoming, and aim to complete it in time for IWD.
Christina Shareef, Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at Reddit
We will be optimizing on this year’s theme of Empowerment and Community during Women’s History Month at Reddit. In addition to organizing social events such as tea tasting and virtual “happy hangs,” we will be hosting workshops that will focus on important personal and professional topics including goal setting and financial budgeting, which are sponsored by our women-centered employee resource groups (ERGs). We are also facilitating internal conversations to spotlight how our women at Reddit, from a wide range of backgrounds and lived experiences, have managed to juggle a plethora of responsibilities to pave pathways in the workplace. Finally, we will be highlighting our women employees in each of our office spaces so that they can be recognized throughout the company and celebrated for all of their contributions.