The world of business has changed immensely. For the present generation, it’s not surprising to see their mothers take work trips, sleep off with the laptop’s light intensifying the stress lines on their face, or perhaps even miss birthdays and other celebrations. Is woman the new man? If she is, then is she the kind of man who was frowned upon barely a generation ago for being too left-brained? In the world of active feminism, it’s a tough question to ask, but one that must be raised nonetheless. The answer must be found objectively and individually. For now, let’s learn the definition of success, work-life balance, and more from some of the best female business leaders today.
On Work-life balance – Sheryl Sandberg, CEO | Facebook
“You know, there has never been a 24-hour period in five years when I have not responded to e-mail at Facebook. I am not saying it’s easy. I work long hours. I am saying that I was able to mould those hours around the needs of my family, and that matters. I really encourage other people at Facebook to mould hours around themselves too.”
On Diversity at work – Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman & CEO | Kraft
“I believe very strongly in the value of having a diverse team around me that comes from very different backgrounds and different points of view.”
On thought application – Ginny Romnetty, CEO | IBM
“IBM’s long-standing mantra is ‘Think.’ What has always made IBM a fascinating and compelling place for me is the passion of the company, and its people, to apply technology and scientific thinking to major societal issues.”
On opportunities – Ursula Burns, Chairman & CEO | Xerox Corp.
“The world is full of opportunities. Every day there’s something new that you can do. For example, you could make dirty water potable. Why does everyone not have potable water? Because it’s a problem that hasn’t been solved yet—but it can be.”
On clarity – Diane Von Furstenberg, Iconic Fashion Designer | President of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)
“Clarity is the most important thing. I can compare clarity to pruning in gardening. You know, you need to be clear. If you are not clear, nothing is going to happen. You have to be clear. Then you have to be confident about your vision. After that, you just have to put a lot of work in.”
On Spending time with family – Angela Ahrendts, CEO | Burberry
“I’m nearly always at home at the weekends. That’s important for every working woman today, not just me. I don’t encourage people to come in at the weekend and work; I encourage people to go home and create great families.”
On the Female workforce – Safra Catz, CFO | Oracle
“The most significant barrier to female leadership is the actual lack of females in leadership. The best advice I can give to women is to go out and start something, ideally their own businesses. If you can’t see a path for leadership within your own company, go blaze a trail of your own.”