This year, Proxima is celebrating International Women’s Day by challenging expectations.
The workplace shapes so much of our daily lives, and we are pausing to celebrate some of the incredible women across our organization who contribute to our goals and growth every single day. Today, we are highlighting some voices across the U.S. and U.K., including Amy, Kate, Lauren, Sheena, Lu, and Jen, to share more about their inspiration and motivation within the consulting industry.
Who was your biggest inspiration growing up, why?
Amy: My mother, she was a woman of character, a strong and quiet person who instilled the importance of honesty and integrity. When our mother spoke, we listened, knowing her message had meaning and purpose. To successfully raise ten children with grace and dignity is undeniably inspirational.
Lu: I was raised in a family with powerful independent women, but I believe my biggest inspiration growing up was my grandad. In the gender equality discussion, we tend to sometimes “alienate” men and forget there are a lot of men who are raising and empowering women. My granddad was one of them. He was born in a poor country under a dictatorship. He was only allowed four years of education before starting to work as a shepherd. At age 20, he illegally fled his country, hiding in a truck, transporting oranges to avoid military service in Africa. Mandatory military services were created to keep colonies running, which he believed deserved independence. He arrived in an unknown country, France, where for the next 50 years, he built a family, a career, a community and worked hard every day to provide his family with opportunities he never had. My grandad attended the school of life and was my biggest inspiration growing up.
Lauren: My biggest inspirations growing up were my parents, as they still are today. My parents taught me that facing adversity is a natural part of life and should not hinder you from driving towards the path you wish to serve. It is easy to become discouraged when life throws you a challenge; my parents understood that it’s important to allow yourself to digest the emotions that come with adversity, but what you do to overcome those challenges is what makes you stronger.
Kate: It is cliché but definitely my mother. She taught elementary school in San Francisco in the sixties and had some fabulous stories. She was ahead of her time and was a huge advocate for equal rights. She gave up her career to raise her kids, then put in any free time she had back into the local schools. Even as a kid, she made juggling family and volunteer commitments effortless – always warm, calm, and collected. I’m trying to model that as I juggle my 21st-century career woman life as well.
What’s one lesson you would share with your younger self?
Lauren: The one lesson I would share with myself is to remember to embrace your victories. The consulting industry does not sleep, and when one deliverable is complete, you are onto the next task. However, I think it is important to reflect on the impact your individual efforts make and how they personally affect you. I would also remember to extend patience and grace back to yourself, as I find consulting to be a competitive environment. While it is important to develop amongst your peers, it is crucial to acknowledge your career path and stay true to your goals/expectations.
Amy: Despite age or experience, there is always something to learn.
Kate: Do you and do not worry about the rest!
I felt pulled in many directions when I entered the workforce and found it tough to speak about and stick with my convictions. Speaking from the heart and being truthful with myself (the good, the bad, and the ugly) only connects me more to others.
Sheena: I used to create an endless list of things I needed to do every day over and above work, like going to the gym, housework, studying, seeing friends and family, etc. Looking back, when I would get through the list, I was exhausted, and when I couldn’t (more often than not), I’d get frustrated. These days, I have learned to strike a balance and have benefited from it. I’m much more energized; I can still achieve what I need to each week and have time for hobbies now. Ultimately, if you cannot tick off everything on that list, it’s probably too long. Consulting is a high-energy job, so it’s ok and important to relax and take a deep breath when you can!
Lu: We have a French expression: “La peur n’évite pas le danger,” which means “Fear will not prevent you from danger.” That is the lesson I would share with my younger self. Making mistakes and being wrong is an inevitable part of the learning process.
Jen: Believe in yourself more! Trust your professional instincts and opinions, recognizing and shouting about your strengths and experiences. I changed careers in my late 20s, from doing front-line work with the homeless to working in procurement. It took me a surprising number of years to believe that I had useful transferable skills and experience and learned more from taking the scenic route to where I am today. So, with hindsight, instead of doubting myself because I took a different path, I should have leveraged it as a strength and differentiator from my peers.
The theme for this year’s IWD is #choosingtochallenge. What’s one way you are choosing to challenge in 2021?
Kate: Self-care was not something I prioritized in 2020. Since January, I’m doing quick morning meditations and trying to carve out 30 minutes for a daily workout. Making the time to care for myself gives me physical benefit, and mentally, I feel stronger and centered. I have zero plans to sign up for a 5K, but who knows…I may choose to challenge that notion too!
Lauren: I am choosing to challenge in 2021 by holding myself and others accountable in our actions and decisions. I believe, now more than ever, we should be speaking up when something is not right. This can be in simple day-to-day tasks, client engagements, or personal matters; whatever the scenario may be, I am working to become comfortable in recognizing where I and others can be better in the choices we make.
Sheena: I’m choosing to challenge inequality across all aspects of my life. The last 12 months have shown that there is such a long way to go before equality is truly attainable. This year it’s about continuing discussions with people around me and even challenging people’s perspectives as well as my own. I’ll continue to listen to the reflections of people around me and work collaboratively to develop and grow opportunities. I’m now in a position in my career where I have a great network to work on tangible activities. I feel now, more than ever, that I can really contribute to and influence change…..a wise colleague of mine once said “be careful of the shadows you cast” and “leave the ladder down”- that’s the mantra I live by now!
Amy: In our work, we are constantly faced with business challenges which require helping people to understand where opportunities exist to optimize business process, costs, etc. In 2021, I am challenging the norms. We are not in normal times, and therefore, it is incumbent on us to broaden mindsets to what is possible.
Lu: I choose to challenge in 2021 by being proactive in awareness (for myself and for those around me). I think we underestimate the power of knowledge and how it can lead to change. I want to seek out more information, spread, share data, and start more constructive debates on inequality and inclusion.
We are extremely proud of how we are #choosingtochallenge here at Proxima and celebrate and appreciate our employees’ achievements. This International Women’s Day, Proxima is #choosingtochallenge by listening to our colleagues as we all work towards work environments infused with equality and support.