A Simmons MBA alumna, Georgina Michael, from our silver sponsor Philips, talks about what it takes to recognize a leader. Leading Stakeholder Relations at Philips Healthcare, her role provides strategic stakeholder relations, PR counsel and expertise to global teams around the world. We recently interviewed Georgina for our first Sponsor Blog Post and discussed her leadership qualities and how Philips uses the Leadership Conference as a benefit for their employees who attend.
As a sponsor of the Leadership Conference, how do you see the conference as adding value to your employees who attend?
Philips employees are tasked with a very noble and challenging mission - to improve the lives of 3B people a year by 2025. To realize and succeed in this mission, Philips believes that it is important that our employees take advantage of the value derived from great Conferences such as this, in ways that are personally meaningful to them and the role they play in this mission. Some that we believe may be valuable are:
Feeling actively engaged in our culture of continuous learning and development.
Informing their professional development goals which they are required to discuss frequently in both formal and informal meetings with their manager.
Promoting a culture of inclusiveness and diversity that will drive higher performance and more creative outcomes from our teams.
In addition, Philips sees the Leadership Conference as an opportunity to make good on one of our core promises- to provide employees with unlimited possibilities to develop themselves and their careers in the directions to which they aspire. All those in attendance have chosen to do so of their own will, as they believe in or are interested in the agenda topics. To us, the combination of employees taking ownership of their own development with our support is essential to achieving success for Philips together. This forum has allowed us to do just that.
How do you select employees to attend the conference?
Our employees are passionate about everything they do - from innovating new solutions for our customers to advancing healthcare products and services that save and improve people's lives, to also being passionate about their careers and their team's success. We knew we would have a lot of interest from the women at Philips so the selection process was difficult.
We focused our selection process on providing opportunity for those with exceptional performance. We extended invites to women who routinely go above and beyond to challenge the status quo, bring teams of people together, and deliver outstanding results for everyone. Often this is not an easy task at Philips, but we empower and recognize our female leaders so they can serve as role models and help discover our leaders of tomorrow. The Simmons Leadership Conference is an ideal platform for the recognition of accomplished women and we are delighted to be part of it.
What is your most memorable moment from conferences past?
I have many memorable moments. One that stands out for me is a keynote speech given by Anne Mulcahy, Xerox Chair and CEO, that still resonates with me. Her story was an example of an accomplished female leader who set her organization on its future path. I was inspired by her story, and in general I simply enjoy hearing 'real people' tell their 'real stories'. For me those are very motivating.
What qualities do you most admire in a female leader?
I admire female leaders who demonstrate an authentic leadership style, who are visionaries who see a new future and know what it will take to set their teams up for success to achieve it. They have a high emotional intelligence quotient and are able to make fast and trusting connections with people. For them winning isn't about personal triumph; it's about teaming up to create better successes that everyone can share in. They work hard to create a legacy in their professional and personal lives that will leave an indelible mark for others to follow. They lead a balanced life, and take time to cultivate personal interests and passions in an environment where their success helps others.
How did you get started in your career?
My original career choice stemmed from a lot of interests, passions and skills I had naturally in my personal life. Growing up I was the girl with a strong passion for new and challenging outdoor adventures, was the go-to friend for creative input on a science fair project and a strong leader both in the classroom and on the sports fields. While these interests led me to climb the three highest mountains in the UK to raise funds for a children's charity and also climb a glacier in New Zealand, it also led me to my present day career.
Over the years, I realized that the field of Marketing combined both the hard facts of business with the curiosity and creativity that energized me and, as I know now, is a great challenge each and every day. Currently, I work in the Marketing function in the Philips Healthcare sector and find myself applying the skills acquired during my MBA degree program to overcome complex business challenges and bring more value to our stakeholders. I have found a great home for my career at Philips, since my success in finding new and creative ways to showcase how our healthcare solutions truly meet very personal needs in new ways, also means success for health and well-being improvements around the world.
What do you like most about your job?
With each project or new strategy I deploy, I know that I am creating my own legacy towards our mission of improving the lives of 3B people a year by 2025. For me it's about achieving greater meaning and impact in life through my work. Being able to see next generation of innovations firsthand which improve the world around us is incredibly satisfying.
Also, working for a top 50 global brand that holds market leadership positions in 3 major industries of Healthcare, Lighting and Consumer Lifestyle industries requires me to develop the right relationships with the right people at the right time. I love building my network with various global teams, as the diversity of these interactions forces us all to consider new perspectives on what is possible. As a result every day brings the new challenges that I personally thrive on.
How can women attain more leadership positions in all industries?
More women are in the workplace working toward true financial independence. Also, the percentage of women coming out of educational institutions now exceeds that of men, so the labor market will continue to consist of a strong talent pool in the future. I believe we still have a ways to go to close the gender gap when it comes to executive leadership roles, but I am proud that we are starting to see more women work their way up the ranks into those senior positions. At Philips, it was an empowering moment for many of my colleagues when Deborah DiSanzo took over as our Healthcare CEO in 2012. As she has demonstrated firsthand, the secret to leadership success for women is to build a solid, credible and agile network that is actively managed throughout one's career.
I believe the change is exciting and has been a long time coming since the skills and competencies typically described as 'female' are becoming more desirable in an interconnected world. We are hard wired for relationship-building and collaboration, and have an innate ability to foster environments of trust and security, all of which are characteristics of great leaders. Yes, we are very good communicators, both in and outside of work. In the current generation, we maintain high standards of accountability knowing that everything we do will result in what our personal brand and legacy will stand for down the road. That is very powerful.
How would you mentor a new businesswoman starting her own business right out of school?
Wow, making the decision to start your own business is both challenging and rewarding; let's face it you are your own boss. My advice would consist of three main areas of focus:
Do what you love and love what you do. Find something that solves a meaningful problem for people and something that you are passionate about. Hard work will always be important but to achieve real success and happiness, you must make your career choices by this rule. I have and I've never looked back or had regrets.
Embrace a lifetime of learning. Being an entrepreneur opens new doors for you every day, and that needs to be seen as a good thing. In the digital era it's easier than ever to connect to your stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, colleagues and employees. Each of these constituents will help you shape your business strategy. By viewing each person's perspective, experience and resources as an opportunity to learn more about what's out there, you are embarking on a lifelong journey of self-fulfillment.
Ensure alignment in your values both on and off the job. Reaching your career goals shouldn't be your life, but reaching your life goals should include your career. Ensuring an alignment in values both on and off the job will ensure that you are able to achieve a sense of emotional fulfillment and well-being throughout the ups and downs in your journey as an entrepreneur.
Of course, my Marketing mind will also advise to brand and market the company in a way that is relevant and meaningful to your customers!