At Berwick Partners, we are passionate about our role in supporting female leaders in securing their next career move and, much like millions of others, are celebrating International Women’s day; a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. To raise awareness against bias and to take action for equality.
Whilst millions are campaigning to raise this awareness and to encourage action, it is apparent that there is still a huge amount more to be done. The Female Lead recently published new research that reveals women’s careers are still being held back by an ‘entitlement gap’ in the workplace. Part of the problem lies in outdated myths relating to the ambitions of women, their earning potential and family-commitments.
Today, we are highlighting two female leaders appointed in their current roles by Berwick Partners and talking to them about their experiences during their leadership journey, their inspirations and their advice to the next generation of female leaders.
Gayathri Sudhakaran, Chief Product & Technology Officer, TCSJOHNHUXLEY
Gayathri has enjoyed a truly global career at the forefront of technology often working at the forefront of digital and data led change. Working with Nokia put Gayathri at the heart of the smart phone boom leading globally distributed product development and delivery teams. Keen to further exploit the confluence of consumer media & communications she enjoyed a period with Sky leading and delivering new propositions. Following success at Sky, Gayathri sought to stretch herself in the digital transformation of the insurance sector and did a stint in the insurance industry in various roles from Global Head of Digital Product & Design, and Director of Digital Product & Innovation respectively. She supported substantial customer channel shift embracing the exploitation of machine learning, automation and cloud adoption. Presently with TCSJOHNHUXLEY, a global end to end gaming business, Gayathri is driving a transformation of the product portfolio and expansion into new areas. An MBA graduate from Said Business School, and a background in computer engineering has influenced and played a key part in her career.
Sarah Bradley, CEO, Kerfoot (part of Avril Group)
To date Sarah has had very successful and progressive 20+ year career in the food sector with multi-site UK and global branded businesses including Premier Foods, Cadbury and Symington’s. Sarah joined Kerfoot in 2017, as the first non-family CEO, to lead the integration of Kerfoot into the €6.2bn French co-operative Avril Group and accelerate business growth. Sarah is an accomplished business leader passionate about creating a performance driven and values led culture.
As a successful female leader, have you ever felt your gender has been a disadvantage or a barrier in your career?
Gayathri: Not really. Gender has not played a role either way. My approach on problem solving, collaboration and leadership might be possibly different to a male counterpart, but it has not made any difference on the outcome.
Sarah:No, I can honestly say I have never felt my gender has been a disadvantage. I started my career in food manufacturing in the early 90’s & was given support and encouragement to develop my career in the sector by a number of great mentors.
Who inspired you and why?
Gayathri:I am fortunate to have met a number of people who have all inspired me at various points in my career in various ways from thought leadership, brave decision making, to just being outstanding leaders and great human beings.
Sarah:My Mum! She was a trailblazer as an international woman back in the 70’s – she moved to Germany alone and unable to speak the language when I was just six weeks old. We then moved to the Middle East in the late 70’s in some very challenging circumstances, and finally the Far East in the 80’s. During her life abroad, as well as having two young children she took on a variety of jobs; from military swimming instructor, childcare support work in some very diverse environments and ultimately going on to further education in later life once we returned to the UK, carving out a career as Special Needs Support Manager for two local colleges. My Mum was never afraid to challenge herself (and others!) and invest in personal development to achieve her goals. She taught me to believe in myself and to believe that anything is possible… if you work hard enough!
What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Gayathri:Believe in yourself and do something you enjoy. You cannot go wrong.
Sarah:Believe in yourself. Trust your intuition and judgement. Don’t be afraid to take risks...just make sure you understand, and can live with, the consequences. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; it’s character building - just make sure you learn from them. And finally, always be true to yourself, your values and principles - even if it sets you apart from others. It is not always a bad thing to be different!
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