The Changing Role of Women in Business

8 November 2016

The Changing Role of Women in Business

On Tuesday 1 November, Henley Business School hosted a panel discussion between influential industry leaders in order to discuss the changing role of women in business.

Authenticity and confidence
It helps to be positively “naïve” and self-confident, when it comes to feeling any discrimination in the workplace. What matters is how you perform in business, without focusing on the fact that your company or sector may be male-dominated. This was one of the comments by Partner at Carter Jonas LLP Emma Jewson, speaking at Henley Business School’s The Changing Role of Women in Business event on Tuesday evening, which featured four influential industry leaders discussing the topic.

These wonderful women considered themselves lucky. They grew up in supportive families, having considerate partners who view their careers as equally important to theirs, and have been supported by mentors during the professional careers. This helped them not to suffer from discrimination. But what was behind the `luck’ was also a set of personal choices. For women it is important to make the right choices in terms of personal and work life.

Mandy DeFilippo, Managing Director of Global Capital Markets at Morgan Stanley, came from a varied background — having studied music and then law — but it didn’t stop her having then a successful career in Finance. Instead of worrying about having a number of different experiences on her CV, when it came to interviews, she created the story of her own personal journey and used it to her advantage. She emphasized that businesses are often looking for different perspectives as they recruit new people, and that’s how she positioned herself on what and how she would contribute in the future.

A similar experience was shared by Elizabetta Camilleri, the CEO and Co-Founder of Shopological, when she was pitching to investors for her start-up three years ago. Surrounded by men in suits—including the start-up owners and investors —she stood out because she made sure she knew what she was talking about. She used her being woman to her advantage. The way we conduct ourselves and stay true to ourselves is what people in business appreciate: we should let our authenticity lead the way.

Be independent, but not alone
A successful woman is often thought as a strong and independent women, but this does not mean that she has to do it all alone. Bridget Long, the General Manager/ Vice President of Enterprise Holding, said that finding the right support network is extremely important, even if this requires a long journey and careful consideration. This can be achieved also by communicating ideas and plans early on with your partner. Moreover, in business asking for help makes us stand out and be remembered, also creating leadership aspect in ourselves.

It sounds like very hard work for women to stand out. But the reality is we have so many options, whether to be on top of the corporate world, being an entrepreneur, becoming a full-time mother, or a whole combination of them. In the end, when we know our own style and preferences on how to stand out in the business and how to “function” in the society we live in, we would not be insecure about who we really are and we would just be confident about it. 


This article was written by Farah Hulliandini, MSc Investment Management student studying at the ICMA Centre, Henley Business School.