LEADING CHANGE: Conversation with Female Entrepreneurs
You asked and… they answered! On Thursday the 29th of October, we held our LEADING CHANGE- Conversations with Female Entrepreneurs event where we got to hear the stories of three incredible female leaders- from their successes to the obstacles they had to face- starting from the questions submitted on our social media.
We hosted Natalie Jameson, CEO, founder and educator at Heroworx and CityZenAI, intercultural C-suite Coach and business management consultant Regina Reinhardt and serial entrepreneur Catherinerose Barretto.
Here's a sneak peek of the interview!
Q: How did you know that you had the right idea?
Regina: I knew from a very young age that I wanted to become an entrepreneur, I found that listening to my inner voice and doing what I feel so strongly doing to the point where I just couldn’t do anything else is when I knew.
Natalie: I’m a big advocate of research, when I started Heroworx I wanted to fill in the gender gap in digital skills, so when I went around and spoke to people they gave me the validation to my idea which is when I knew it was the right idea.
Catherinerose: It first clicked that we had the right idea within the first 12 months of our start-up - when we saw changes in the entrepreneurs we were working with. For me, it was also the external validation I got from all sectors as a result of my start-ups, and the validation I finally gave myself. It was also about talking to the community around me, asking them what we did right and tell us what we did wrong too.
Q: What was the biggest obstacle of your journey and how did you overcome it?
Regina: The first was sticking to my plan, I wanted to do it but it took me 2-3 years to get it running, the point was to really trust the process and keep on remembering why I started in the first place. The second difficulty was my struggle with selling myself, so I went and found people who help me with that.
Natalie: It was about learning how to pitch properly and nailing the problem you are solving and coming out of it with a consultative point of view which helped me to get out of the “ABS – anything but sales” mindset that I had.
Catherinerose: I struggled with selling myself too and getting out of my head to be present there in the business atmosphere, as an equal. I decided to get a coach this year and do a reverse bucket list. I went through all that I achieved and reverse engineered it: what I have done and the people it has impacted.
Q: Have you ever felt disadvantaged? Did you feel that you faced more challenges compared to a male entrepreneur?
Natalie: I did recognize that It was harder so I felt determined, which made me realise I had to be more prepared, more researched and more rehearsed than others. I did recognize it was harder but I was more determined to take it on and be prepared so that my voice could be heard that way.
Regina: Since I grew up in a different culture than my own, I have always felt different which carried on when I started doing what I do. I was always surrounded by male entrepreneurs that commented about my financial capabilities, as if i was only just running a "hobby". However, my goal was to educate and help people grow. I responded to that with “I’m really making a living here and I’m choosing to do what I love to do and where my passion lies”.
Catherinerose: I felt lonely when I first started, being the only woman in the room. I often struggled with navigating the space and speaking out loud. So, learning to perfect your own space, to protect it and to protect yourself is what I’d advise.
Q: Did any mentors play a role in your business and how?
Regina: I read a lot of biographies of known successful women and applied what I learned from them. The main thing about being successful is learning. I use coaching to support me, I learned that you can't do it all on your own and sometimes you need help to change something that isn’t working.
Natalie: Having advocates – those who have your back, and you meet them as you go. Also having both good and bad bosses really pushed me to overcome my boundaries and helped me understand what type of leader I wanted to become.
Catherinerose: I’ve collected mentors over the years who helped me in different aspects of my life. What I’m always open and intentional about is to be authentic and to appreciate people, which really helped me to become a better leader.
Q: There’s a specific question for Natalie - can you give us some advice for women from non-tech backgrounds looking to get into the tech industry?
Natalie: Find somebody who’s in the same position as you and make them your “learning buddy”, and find someone who’s a couple of steps ahead of you to learn from their knowledge and experience.
Q: What are some of the mistakes you wish you could have avoided when you first started?
Natalie: Spending money on things that you think you need but you don’t need. So be conscious about what you’re spending on.
Catherinerose: Be upfront with your co-founders and team and don’t shy away from the hard conversations. The work environment you create is very critical. Be conscious about your hiring practices for your business.
Regina: Adapting to the environment I was in, just because something works somewhere doesn’t mean it’ll work in another place.
Q: Do you have a good work-life balance?
Catherinerose: I am trying to, I have taken off emails from my phone, and I really try to not use my phone during the evening and free time.
Natalie: Balance is really hard, when you’re passionate you actually want to work. For me it’s also about prioritising my daughter when I am with her for example I try leaving my phone etc.
Regina: When I started I had an 8-year-old son so I prioritised his needs. I usually try to have a good night’s sleep. For the past 5 years, I started trying to take good care of myself by meditating, eating well..
We’d like to thank our fantastic guest speakers for joining us and offering an insight into what it's like to be an entrepreneur!
Remember that applications for our Accelerator programme are OPEN! If you have a start-up idea and are looking for funding and support, look no further!
You can find the application form here.
Written by: Lamees Al Lawati