"Looking back, I don’t think that I would have been able to manange all of the tasks from my first job to the same quality I did without my education from IE Business School."
Georgine Roesle, Switzerland
Managing Director, Head B2B Technology Services at Sygnum Bank
What kind of mindset should younger generations have in order to break the glass ceiling?
I have spent a lot of time working in male-dominated industries, so I can somehow relate to the “glass ceiling” phenomenon. In my previous company, 90% of the employees were men, and in the startup where I am currently working, I was the only woman for a long time, but the ratio of women to men eventually balanced out. I have come to learn that, in general, there are less women working in startups, especially since women are less likely to take entrepreneurial risks.
So, my advice for women who want to make it up the corporate ladder is to make sure that your employees and subordinates see what value you bring as a manager. Listen to them, respect them and show them that you think their opinions matter. I have always treated my direct reports as if they were my clients, giving them my time and attention. I think that it is important to treat those who report to you as if they were one of your most important stakeholders.
How did you get where you are today and how has your experience at IE Business School helped you?
My experience at IE Business School was transformational. With every case study, I started to think of the company we were studying in a different way. I also noticed how the same processes can be applied in different industries, such as reducing idle times or eliminating bottlenecks in a production process. The knowledge I gained from the International MBA continues to be applicable to my job on a daily basis.
In my first position after the International MBA, I was reporting directly to the CEO. I was also involved in a lot of projects from different areas, such as operations, strategy, finance, sales, communications, partnerships and investor relations. Looking back, I don’t think that I would have been able to manage all of it to the same quality I did without my education from IE Business School.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
If you want to achieve something, you have to be ready to passionately dedicate a lot of your time and effort.
To be honest, my work-life balance has not always been optimal. I am convinced, however, that if I had not worked so hard, I would not be where I am now. Upon reflection, I believe that all my extra effort allowed me to pursue what I wanted to do and has proven to be worth it.
My work-life balance comes from doing different sports, meeting friends, visiting art exhibitions or going to concerts—there is never a dull moment in my life. In a way, going digital due to the pandemic may be helpful when finding the balance as it provides more flexibility. Whenever you are tired or feeling stressed, you can go for a quick run to feel refreshed.
What advice would you give to women who want to succeed in the workplace?
Stand firm in your values. In situations that are difficult, there are going to be various opinions and points of view. At the end of the day, it is crucial for me to know that I have done my best, reacted according to what I believe in and, most of all, that I can stand behind my actions.
If you are asked to do something you don’t really agree with, do not be afraid to state that clearly. It is never easy, but it is very important. It helps to define you not only as a manager, but also on a deeper, personal level. Raise your voice—even if it is early on in your career.
What challenges have you experienced as a woman in business throughout your career?
So far I have noticed that women are given the “smaller, easier” jobs. The stereotype of women not wanting to work is frustrating, especially after seeing strong women work incredibly hard to get an education, and who strive to do business.
What or who has been your greatest influence in your professional path and why?
Influences come from a variety of places including your upbringing, your education and then well into your professional career. I learned how to raise my voice along the way, specifically in my first job while training with colleagues from around the world.
I think in the workplace, and in life in general, apart from hard work and dedication, there is this factor of luck. Sometimes you are lucky and meet people who really trust and believe in you and help you grow, and other times you have to be the person who encourages yourself to be better every day.