Learn from strong women

Last week I was in the lucky position to attend the International Women’s Day Lightning Talks in Chicago. I was impressed by the panel consisting of strong entrepreneurial women. Those female leaders with a background in tech, culture, social media, and politics have been real role models for the audience. It was great to see that it was an honest and well-reflected approach to strengthen women’s‘ mindset. No overuse of buzzwords, female paroles or how unfair everything is but straightforward insights into their daily business life and their advice for the mostly female audience. 

international womens day

As I am writing a blog about being the Expat Partner but also striving for personal independence, this topic is more than ever very close to my attention. In the following, I will present you my key takeaways from this evening. 

Fun fact for my Expat’s heart: At the end of the talk I have found myself surrounded by women from Saudi Arabia, India, Syria, and Spain. These are the moments I feel especially grateful to have this opportunity to live and work abroad and being in the position to learn so much from people from all around the world.   

Key Learnings from the International Women's Day Lightning Talks

Kavita Rao: A former immigrant who managed to enter corporate world

„Why International Women’s Day? It gives us the chance to stand still and reflect on what we have achieved.“

„Arriving in the US {Kavita immigrated from India} I had two choices: Get under the shadow of my husband and stay home or following my dream“

Look into her personal path to success to familiarize with America and follow her dream:

1. Volunteer in school

2. Receptionist job with only a few English knowledge back then. She worked off-hours during the night. 

3. Enrolled at the University of Chicago for a Master in Computer Science

4. Joined corporate America. There were hardly any women back then. She was feeling out of place, there was no environment for asking questions and pushing forward as a woman. 

However, in the end, she managed to break through the glass ceiling and inspires women worldwide to chose to follow their dream instead of hiding under the shadow of their husband. 

“ My immigration journey has been a full circle for me and I learned that together we can achieve everything we want to“. Very inspiring, right?x


Diamond Greer: If you can't find it create it yourself

„Equality is an Equity. We have to level the playing field  in terms of pay, access to resources, financial status in general without feeling guilty.“ 

“ I decided instead of waiting for the world to change, I will design a company which is hybrid and welcomes women.“ 

Check out her website to learn more about the topic. You will find many interesting articles about women in tech and how to become a female boss. 

Colleen Egan: It's time to support each other then see us as competitors

Colleen is such an inspiration as she had so many jobs already and was brave enough to take on the challenge of a new job and new industry and to start from scratch several times. Being successful now she is looking back on her career and stresses the importance of helping other women. This is a very important point and sadly I have seen this so often in the corporate life back in Germany: women have not been supportive of each other but have seen each other as fierce competition. While this might be a natural character trait in the shark tank of business, it is not at all supporting for our desire to reach equality. My favorite quotes from Colleen: 

„Always pay back to the women you are surrounded by“

„We have to pass the mike around – not only say I feel you but give up our seats for others“

colleen, quote, women

Taruna Rai: If you truly want to you can do it

Taruna is also working towards creating an atmosphere of inclusion by mentoring and promoting the needs of women at Chicktech, an organization founded to increase the number of women in tech. 

I loved her statement: 

„You are a role model for someone“#

Find more about Chicktech in Chicago here: visit website

Terra Winston: Why can't I talk about shoes but men can talk about sports?

She talked about male locker room talk at the workspace which I guess most women have experienced in their career so far. In some industries, it is still kind of necessary to be silent and smile along when some sexist jokes are made. Only then it seems you are seen as the cool girl and might take part in the next big project. Gladly, times are changing. My favorite quotes from Terra:

„the idea of legitimacy was being like them“

„You have to understand that you fully have to embrace your authenticity – the game will not change – but you will be more successful.“

Mary Erangey

Everybody is facing performance anxiety. As a professional manager and musician, she knows what she is talking about. Thankfully, she also gave away her strategies to cope with performance anxiety. The two strategies that resonated best with me have been: 

I. Intentional practice: 

1. Break it down into pieces and learn it by heart. Get specific on what to improve

2. Top yourself – don’t shy away

3. Review the steps against the specific goals

II. Remind yourself:

Create mental victory labs to remember when you are feeling unsure – save the feeling of success!

Be your own advocate: How to fake it till you make it

Fake it till you make it is a popular tactic to accelerate success and start off with your business right away. As a foreigner, this seems to be a essential part of the American culture. However, I was surprised to find that there was a vivid discussion at the end of the panel about: How to fake it till you make it but stay authentic and true to yourself at the same time. This is a very exciting topic and indeed a fine line to walk.

Here is what the experts said:

And with these strong words, I wish you all a great start to the week!

If you want to find out more about the panelists click on their bio below:

kavita rao, international womens day

Kavita Rao

Worked her way up from a school in India, attained a Master's in Computer Science and is now a successful Senior Manager at Capital One.

Diamond Greer

People & Design Strategist and Founder of Let's Vibe, an ecosystem aiming to close the global leadership and equity gap.

Colleen Egan

There is no position Colleen did not have yet. She started her career as a nurse, founded and worked in several different industries in the design & tech industry and is now Director at Clarity Partners

Taruna Rai, International Womens day

Taruna Rai

Senior Manager at Relativity, leading the IT Business Service team.

terra winston, international womens day

Terra Winston

Leadership Consultant and executive Coach. Ringleader of inTerractions.

Mary Erangey

Sr. Vice President at Public Communications Inc.

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Kate from Share the Love, expat, expat wife, expat life

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