“Diverse teams work better and are more innovative. A company can proactively broaden the skillset of its female employees and at the same time add value to its business by incorporating more women.”
- Jennifer Harvey, Executive Board Member, Crown Worldwide Group
This International Women’s Day we are shining the light on some of Crown’s female leaders, women who have created a lasting impact in their spheres of influence – driving growth and empowering their teams across the globe.
We asked them to reflect on their own experience and share advice and inspiration for women seeking to navigate and advance in the business world.
Haike Gomez, Branch Manager Spain, Crown World Mobility
A colleague encouraged me to apply for the role of Branch Manager because she was convinced, I was perfect for the role. In all honesty, I had a lot of self-doubt and was thinking of all the reasons I wouldn’t be successful, so she asked me: what if you are successful?
On the day of the announcement, my colleague (a man) who had been in the running for the same role, noticed my anxiety and supported me by introducing me to the team which left a very positive impression on me.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing with the change of role but from the very beginning I felt supported at Crown, with training and advice from my colleagues and mentors. I have learned a lot and it has helped me to be the person I am today. You will have tough years or moments, but I am sure that everyone in every job has such moments to deal with and at the end of the day you will overcome it.
My advice for women aiming for senior management roles: Try it! Failure is easier to deal with than regret. Be ambitious, stay motivated, take advantage of opportunities to gain experience. I participated in our Crown mentoring program to learn from others and to share my experiences and knowledge as a mentor.
Mona Lai, Group Head of Business Development, Crown Records Management
Being in a leadership role is rewarding and challenging at the same time. I am conscious of the impact of my actions and decisions on the success of the company, and the development and performance of the people around me.
It is my responsibility to create a positive, productive working environment and guiding team members towards achieving common goals.
However, it’s very fulfilling to see great results and team members growing their knowledge and experience.
Organizations can create an inclusive workplace culture to actively address gender bias and support women to pursue leadership roles. At Crown, we do this through our People policies and practices such as parental leave policies, equal opportunities for career development and supportive working environments. We have mentorship and sponsorship programs that connect women with senior leaders who can provide guidance and support.
My advice for women aiming for senior management roles: Believe in yourself, develop your skills, build your network, seek out opportunities and support other women.
Sherry Liu, Group Vice President, Moving Services
My experience in a leadership role has included peaks and valleys. I enjoy working and thinking globally and what motivates me in my leadership role is to deliver impact.
Representation matters! I feel strongly that women, and particularly women of color, face unique challenges on the path to senior leadership roles. All companies can support more women to take up leadership roles by developing talent pipelines that recognize and nurture future leaders.
My advice for women aiming for senior management roles: Work towards achieving a wide range of experience across different businesses and or industries. Ensure you spend time working on the front line with customers; there is no stronger foundation for leaders than to understand what your customers are thinking and what they really value.
Magali Delafosse, Group Vice President, Human Resources
When I joined Crown eleven years ago, it was daunting to be in the same room with leaders who had been in their roles for over 15 years. Additionally, I was from a different industry; quite an undertaking for a new leader looking to build credentials! However, I was always supported and given the necessary freedom within the organizational framework to drive the HR agenda and deliver some key changes for the company.
In my first management role in my late 20s, I managed a very diverse team across Europe. It was challenging to lead people more experienced than me including a lady who was close to retirement age. I made her an ally and empowered her to leverage her expertise, network and experience to the team’s advantage.
When she retired, she said it had been a graceful way to end her career journey. It was a great moment of pride for me. In the end, it is all about human relationships and sharing a common purpose with our teams. Organizations can support with interventions and initiatives to encourage women. At Crown, our women’s network, Crown Coronets is a wonderful opportunity for female staff members to interact and even lead a local or regional network.
My advice for women aiming for senior management roles: Speak to you manager about your aspirations. Think about stepping outside your area of expertise by taking on projects. This will help cement your learning and build an internal network. Be yourself, ask for advice from people who are experts and who will generously share their own experience. Be curious, brave, and never give up, it might mean you take a longer path to your destination and that might just be the thing you need at that time in your journey.
Norah Franchetti, Group Vice President, Marketing
I have always enjoyed the challenge of developing people, planning for, and seeing success. My first leadership role was in London when I ran our relocations business there. It was a busy role and I particularly blossomed under the challenge of leading the team to reach higher! This was back in the 80s, so it was a time when very few women worked in the relocations industry.
In the 35-plus years I’ve been with Crown, I have seen support for women and their development at every level.
I feel fortunate to have helped along the way, to develop, mentor, and inspire colleagues to grow and become great leaders.
My advice for women aiming for senior management roles: Go for it! Work hard, share your successes, put your hand up to help and lead projects and keep learning.
Jennifer Harvey, Executive Board Member and CEO, Americas
I rarely – if ever – set out to be a leader. Being focused and engaged in what I am doing is how I’m wired and over the course of my life I think that has led to me being in leadership roles. At work, outside of work and in school, I found myself taking on leadership roles because I wanted to get things done. I care about others involved in an effort (whatever it is) and want to leverage their skills and strengths to support a positive outcome for all. This gives me personal reward, plus I try to have a little fun and find happiness along the way through the relationships I build.
There are circumstances in which I am aware that as a female leader, I am in the minority. But I don’t think about this often, which helps me to operate and make decisions that are independent of this.
I would like to see companies actively support women by giving them hybrid or flexible working options. In some cases, women need flexibility to work to their full potential, for example if they are caregivers to children, close or extended family members.
Another thing companies can do is identify areas within their business that are lacking women and work to bring women into these parts of the business.
Diverse teams work better and are more innovative. A company can proactively broaden the skillset of its female employees and at the same time add value to its business by incorporating more women.
I really appreciate the Unconscious Bias and Anti-Bullying training and culture at Crown, where over time these behaviors have become unacceptable and not tolerated. This has made the company a great place for women to work and set the stage for women to step into leadership roles.
My advice for women aiming for senior management roles: You don’t need to fixate on being a woman, just be true to who you are as a person. Get some clarity on what your values are and live by them. These will make you authentic, which is one thing others will be open and receptive to. And to be an effective leader, you do need the people around you to be onboard with you, since - by definition - this means aligning and mobilizing a team.