EnterpriseWOMEN Launches with powerful lessons on leadership

EnterpriseWOMEN Launches with powerful lessons on leadership

After 7 months of research, planning and hard work, EnterpriseWOMEN launched with all full house at Cambridge Judge Business School.

A vibrant evening brought together entrepreneurs and experts to bond, share and learn in a safe environment. The event started by exploring and challenging the concept of leadership. This was followed by talks on how to build a team that enables an entrepreneur to scale up, thrive in an increasingly complex business environment and tackle the challenges we are likely to face in the next decades.

The workshop was led by Dr Ghina M. Halabi, Programme Director of EnterpriseWOMEN. Three mesmerising guest speakers shared their knowledge and insight on leadership, team building and innovation.

The event started with an energising, interactive and reflective session by Anne Boisier-Fouché, Senior leader at Shine who challenged the stereotypical image of a leader. Anne emphasised the idea that a leader is not the one who is loudest but empathetic, and whose work is aligned with her core values. Her session focused on enhancing participants’ ability to influence others, which will ultimately grow their impact as leaders. Using a unique combination of creative tools and discussions, we explored the theme of personal values and how understanding them can help leaders lead more authentically. We also discussed the power of empathy as an essential trait of a leader to be more influential and inspirational. Overall, we demonstrated the impact of being, rather than simply thinking or doing.

The session left participants with insightful key take-aways to use within work and life in general. Their feedback at the end of the workshop on what they found most useful included “values in the workplace”, “self-reflection and active learning”, “finding values” and “I will run my team through a personal values exercise”!

Building high-performance teams

To shine as a leader, one needs a good team and so we had an international employment law expert who generously shared her knowledge with our participants. Kim Wedral-Rooke, Partner at Taylor Vinters, talked about on people strategy considerations to support scaling up a business as well as building and retaining an efficient team in a fast-growth environment. Kim relayed insightful stories and advice on concepts like “supported autonomy”, team alignment around core values and mission, inclusion, engagement, self-reflection, authenticity and she challenged the leadership stereotype. Among her most powerful takeaways were:

  • “Vulnerability is a powerful and impactful trait of a leader”
  • “Sharing stories is empowering”
  • “Leadership is not about knowing it all, surround yourself by people who enable you to shine because you can’t be good at everything and role-model your values to others”

Participants found Kim’s talk empowering which was reflected in their feedback. When we asked what they will do differently after attending the session some said “not being afraid to show my vulnerability”, “think deeply about the teams I build”, “trying to find my own leadership style”, and “I want to bring some of these ideas into my workplace”.

According to a recent article in Harvard Business review What Makes a Successful Startup Team, 60% of new ventures fail due to problems with the team. The study further found that experience alone was not enough to make a team thrive, but shared entrepreneurial passion and strategic vision are essential to get a superior team performance. The study emphasised that a great resume alone is not enough to achieve great performance. So what does a high-flying venture need?

Inventing new ways to lead

Rakhi Rajani, Associate Partner at QuantumBlack, had the answers. During her career, Rakhi had to interview thousands of candidates to grow teams from scratch. She always beyond the CV and her far-from-ordinary interview questions took candidates by surprise and disrupted classic recruitment styles. Rakhi spends some of her time solving problems out of this world, literally. In fact, she explores how we can build interplanetary civilisations. “I often end up having to identify new problems before we get to solutions!” she said. She gave an eye-opening talk on “Inventing New Ways to Lead”, and emphasised the need to strive for collaboration and diversity of brainpower and perspectives. She also challenged the structures we have in place “Many of our reward models encourage silos rather than collaboration”, she said. Rakhi believes that we often have a fixed view of what makes a great leader, but solving today’s problems requires different types of teams and new interpretations of leadership. She also left the audience with powerful take-aways:

  • “Know the impact of your ripple effect”
  • “Pride authenticity over acting”
  • “Speak to engage, not to dictate”.

Not only were we inspired, her dry and witty sense of humour left us in stitches.

Participants described her as “ahead of her time”. When asked what they will do differently they said “consciously review my ripple effect”, “think about my hiring questions” “proactively listen and promote collaborative cognition”.

We thank everyone who helped make this event the smashing success it was. To learn more about future events, please check our 2020 programme schedule.

Dr Ghina M. Halabi
Dr Ghina M. Halabi is an astrophysicist and Director of EnterpriseWOMEN at the Cambridge Judge Business School Entrepreneurship Centre. She holds a Junior Research Fellowship from Wolfson College, University of Cambridge, and is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and European Astronomical Society. Ghina is the founder and managing editor of She Speaks Science, an award-winning online platform that makes science accessible and promotes women in STEM. She is an invited speaker at international astronomy conferences and global forums including the United Nations and TEDx. She advocates gender equality in STEM through policy advisory roles and as a member of the United Nations Space for Women Project. She coaches and consults on communication and differentiation strategies.

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