EIC Women Leadership Programme: The thoughts on personal branding and leadership style from two experienced business leaders
Do you know what you stand for? And which values guide you as a leader? These questions can be hard to address, but you can stand out in the room and during your leadership career if you know the right answer. The 4th EIC Women Leadership Programme's Training explored the importance of developing authentic leadership and presence in critical situations. At the end of the session, we sat down with our two keynote speakers, and we discovered more details about their experience on personal branding and leadership style.
Every young entrepreneur acknowledges the importance of a good sales pitch to attract the attention of investors, customers, and business partners. But when it comes to finding their own elevator pitch and exploring their Leadership Branding, business leaders often overlook these aspects.
To overcome this challenge, the 4th Training of the EIC Women Leadership Programme took a deep dive into the personal development of the participants. During more than 3 hours, the trainer, Jill Adams, provided a framework and process to develop a unique leadership style and techniques to communicate effectively and consistently. The event also counted with the participation of two special speakers: Ana Maiques, CEO of the EIC-funded company Neuroelectrics and Cheryl Miller, Director of the Digital Leadership Institute, who shared their own experience and views about Personal Leadership.
Good leaders have their own vision to "change the world"
Ana founded a unique health company. Neuroelectrics aims to change the way we interact with the brain, developing innovative technologies to monitor and stimulate the brain to help many patients in need. She was nominated by IESE as one of the most influential entrepreneurs under 40 in Spain (2010) and received the EU Prize for Women Innovators from the European Commission EC in 2014.
During the beginning of her career as an entrepreneur, she often heard that she could become rich if their technology were applied to video games. But she decided to stay true to her beliefs and follow her ambition.
"Most entrepreneurs I respect are people that want to change the world. They want to fix a problem, and they have a vision. And they work restlessly because they truly believe in their vision to change the world. And with regards to women, I think that plays in your benefit because most women I know are driven by a strong social determination or social commitment", she mentioned. "Don't let the fact that you're growing a company distract you from the reason you created it. It's important to keep your mission and your vision very close to your heart, but then become more and more professional in your execution."
This advice was also shared by the keynote speaker Cheryl Miller. The female entrepreneur founded a Brussels-based international NGO promoting inclusive digital transformation and was recognized by the UN in 2019 for its global leadership in diversity and inclusion in digital fields. In 2018, Google and the Financial Times placed Cheryl among the 100 Digital Pioneers of Europe. In the same year, Cheryl received a coveted "GLOMO" Global Mobile Industry Leader Award for her grassroots work promoting digital equity worldwide. Her extensive experience tells her that women "don't need to second guess themselves," and she pointed the need to demand what they deserve during the interview.
"We have to demand what we are owed, and that means real finance. We have to speak truth to power, and we have to demand what we deserve", she concluded.
"Women don't need cheerleading"
Cheryl believes that a common symptom of the problem with female entrepreneurship is the belief that women need cheerleading when they don't need it. "This is not about fixing yourself because women don't need to fix themselves. This is about women (us) fixing together the system".
Cheryl has spent a big part of her career working internationally. She held progressive leadership roles in the automotive, telecom, cybersecurity, and banking sectors in Japan, Europe, Russia, and the US, and she felt an "outsider" in many situations. But today, she highlights that it is okay to be an outsider.
"Women that work internationally get used to that outsider feeling. They always need to find their entry-point into the conversation, certain circumstances, and events. But it is also a position of privilege because you stand out and get the attention you deserve. Sometimes it can be useful to be the outsider", she concluded.
"Don't be afraid to share your achievements"
Ana also received many awards during her career, but she never felt scared of talking about them to promote its curriculum. Neuroelectrics received the Best Start-up in Health 2015 by the Wired UK magazine, and Ana was awarded as one of the 2016 Best Entrepreneurial Companies in the USA by Entrepreneur Magazine. "One of my recommendations to women entrepreneurs is to communicate more and believe more in how good they are. We usually hide our achievements, don't recognize our achievements, or speak too loud about what we are doing. And I think that goes against us. I do think that the way we speak, the way we communicate, should be as strong as men do it", she mentioned.
"I was at an event for Women Innovators the other day, and there was a panel of CEOs, and one of them came in strong and said, "I don't think there is anyone more qualified than I am to do the job I am doing, I am the best one," she told us. "That is a hard statement to make for a woman, and I think we should talk more like that. You never hear a man saying, "I am not good enough.", so why aren't we thinking and speaking in the same way?" concluded Ana.
About the EIC Women Leadership Programme
The EIC Women Leadership Programme (WLP) aims to enhance skills and promote networking for women in the EIC Community. The EIC seeks to increase the number of women-led companies created and succeeding in business and increase diversity in innovation and tech. The EIC WLP will also establish partnerships with experienced European Female organisations to deliver training and networking events beyond its own network, bringing unique and novel opportunities.
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