“When women have a sense of belonging, they can really do anything.”
Linda Guemne Jouonang
Finance Specialist at ENGIE, France
On women in the workplace: sponsors, perception and workplace culture
As a woman and in particular being a young woman, I have had to overcome a number of barriers in my career. Given my age and my gender, I have felt that there have been a lack of opportunities when it came to senior or executive roles. Things as simple as working hard, working late or networking were not enough to achieve the positions that I wanted.
I have also experienced a lack of sponsors, people who were willing to bet on my talent and my ability to take on leadership positions, even though I would have been the most qualified person in the room.
The addition of motherhood and the difficulties that arise once one has children comes into factor as well. I have always had the feeling that it required even more effort for me to prove myself at work due to people’s perceptions and company agendas. We have 24 hours in a day and there will be times where you have to make a choice between leaving a meeting because you have something more urgent to do at home or staying in the meeting and feeling guilty because you weren’t there for your child.
The reality is that women have less space in the workplace as compared to men and when it comes to leadership roles, women do not tend to come first.
It actually has a lot to do with the culture of the workplace, which is very important for women to gain a sense of belonging.
When women belong, they can really do anything.
For women who are seeking opportunities, and who want to progress in their personal and professional lives, I recommend that you have a support system that is not only willing to bet on your talent and navigate through the advancement of your career, but also to help you juggle work and time with your family. This could be your partner, your family, sometimes even your coworkers or employees.
Everything around you works like an eco-system, everyone has a role to play.
On values and personality
Growing up, I was told that women should be empathetic, supportive and compassionate. That always made me mad because I could not understand why a woman should conform with those terms.
I have my own values, my own personality and there is no reason I should behave a certain way. All women are different and do not behave the same. Embracing the differences in women makes you more inclusive. It makes you better able to understand what’s around you, without seeing the future through one lens but understanding everything that’s around. That’s why its important to have gender balance in leadership roles. There have been improvements recently, but there’s a lot to be done.
Women bring in new perspectives and ensure that the decisions that are made are more inclusive. For now I’m confident that I will get the results that I want in everything that I do because I know my own values. I make sure that I bring myself, my own self, and who I am as a person to the table. I make sure that people understand who I am as a person and accept that, because at the end if they do not accept me the way I am, with what I bring to the table, then I will just move on.
But if you want me to work with you, if you want us to do something together, you will have to accept who I am as person with my values and priorities because I think what is important at the end is the result that we have.
On the meaning of Limitless
Limitless to me, means that everything is possible. If I were to give my younger self advice it would be to stay true to yourself. If you want to do something, do it. If you want to touch the sky, touch the sky. Because at the end, all that matters is you.
When I decided to pursue an MBA, I was looking for a transformative experience that would not only boost my career but also challenge myself to be the leader that I dreamed to be. I chose INSEAD because of its core values.
What INSEAD gave to me in return, is a family of friends from different origins and cultures, who have provided me with a broader perspective and a better understanding of the world. Those friends, throughout their journey, their personal life, their career or the strong businesses that they create have challenged and encouraged me to be a better version of myself and has made sure that I aim as high as possible in all my goals and objectives. The MBA also introduced me to a network of inspiring, brilliant, smart and daring individuals who all aim to make a difference in the world, and a tremendous desire to have a meaningful life and lasting impact on society.
It's given me the ability to quickly see the big picture, making it easier for me to deal with complexity, uncertaintly and not lose sign of what is important from a professional and personal perspective. Overall, I now have a better understanding of who I am as a person, my abilities, my values, my strenghts and my weaknesses, which has led to a greater sense of humility and increased self-confidence.