In Praise of Women
Ana Rold brought Global Talent Summit to WORLDWEBFORUM in 2019 and as CEO and publisher of Diplomatic Courier, sat down with us to share her experiences as a woman in leadership and “doing it all”.
Let them undermine me, because then that allows me the freedom to just go on with my goals unobstructed!
Worldwebforum: How have you been able to be a woman in leadership, buildy our own company, form an amazingly successful event, as well as balancing having your family?
Ana Rold: One of my favorite people in the world is Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and she always said, “You can have it all – but not all at the same time”. As a woman, I could have all of it, but at different times.
So, I think it’s a matter of being realistic with your goals: that you may not have been able to have everything you want to have in every facet of your life, at the same time, and make peace with that.
I think as a society we’re pressured to accept that success looks a certain way and we’re supposed to do it a certain way.
I’ve chosen my own path to success and I’ve made peace with what that looks like, and that may not necessarily always look super successful to everyone.
I also have an amazing partner in life. We take turns letting the other have the spotlight in their careers. There’s another cliché – It takes a village and an army to run things, and so I have all the help in the world. I’m one of those people who will tell you that you can’t do it all by yourself and it’s OK to ask for help.
And to that end, it’s important to have a partner in life that supports you in a way that it is OK for him or for her to take the backseat to allow you to rise, or take turns, to allow each other to succeed and thrive.
What is the best piece of advice that you’ve received about achieving your career goals?
The best advice to me was given when I first started my company.
I was working in the media and diplomatic policy field in Washington D.C. Fifteen years ago this field was extremely male-dominated and I was just a young girl in a ponytail. I remember, I got two pieces of advice and I picked one, and I was very happy to go with that over the other.
One of the advices was to blend in so you get a seat at the table, then make sure you blend in with the table. However, the table I was part of were all men, and I wasn’t going to blend in.
The other piece of advice was, be as much yourself as possible. And that meant if you’re colorful, that’s ok even if you stand out. Make sure you don’t look like someone’s secretary.
And that was a conscious decision for me to really be myself. Whether that was likeable or not. And through sheer perseverance, just showing up, just being there is what really allowed me to be part of that establishment that was so male dominated.
Of course, things have changed quite a bit in the last 15 years. There’re more women graduating with higher degrees, and more women entering the workforce, and more women in executive meetings and boardrooms. So, things have changed dramatically. But the advice I give women now, entering the workspace is to be fiercely yourself and try not to blend in.
What about people who still underestimate you because you are a woman?
For me it works – to just be out there and do my thing and experiment. It also helps to think about what Congresswoman Ocasio Cortez recently said, “I love being undermined”. Let them undermine me, because then that allows me the freedom to just go on with my goals and my agenda, and sometimes that’s a good thing.