Women who inspire women

Having seen the remarkable results of the Diversity & Inclusion initiatives among the organisations we work with, we decided to build on this success and share these inspiring stories to facilitate sharing of best practices and, most importantly, to show how many inspiring female role models are out there.

In this monthly Podcast hosted by Anna Gromadzka, we are reaching out to women who, like us, are passionate about improving diversity and inclusion across organisations, and who are willing to share their own success stories, to motivate and support other women currently in leadership roles or aspiring to achieve the same career paths.

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Episode 10 - Scaling Up an Automotive Business

with Sarah Olson, Director of Engineering at Masu Brakes North America

Sarah Olson is the Director of Engineering at Masu Brakes North America, a company that designs and manufactures Brake Pads & Brake Linings for the automotive industry.  She joined Masu Brakes in 2020 and has been a vital part of their North America growth.

Previously, Sarah was a Director of Product Management – Braking at Federal-Mogul, a global supplier of vehicle parts, where she had a successful career over 16 years, progressing through roles of increased responsibility, starting as a Formulator, then moving through Application Engineering, Program Management and Product Engineering. Prior to Federal-Mogul, Sarah worked for Goodyear as a rubber compounder.

In this episode of Ways Women Lead, Sarah shares what it is like to work for a global multibillion automotive company as well as what it was like to transition from that environment into Masu Brakes where Sarah reports directly to the business owners and plays a critical role in the company’s expansion in the US. Sarah also shared insights on the most exciting parts of her current role and the biggest lessons from her recent transition.

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Episode 9 - Leadership in complex manufacturing environments

with Natascha Wolski, Director Customer Quality, Warranty & Risk at BENTELER Automotive

Natascha has approx. 20 years’ experience working for major manufacturing businesses such as MANN+HUMMEL and BENTELER, which she joined in 2017. Throughout this time, Natascha has had the opportunity to work in international roles, based out of Germany, China and USA, lead teams of up to 200 people, managing through others and managing cross-functionally.

While at MANN+HUMMEL – a family-owned manufacturer of filter systems, Natascha held various international roles within the production and quality departments. Most recently, at BENTELER - a global, family-owned automotive and engineering company, Natascha has held responsibility for the global Customer Quality, Warranty & Risk functions for the Automotive division.

In this Episode of Ways Women Lead, Natascha shares insights on the challenges, successes as well as some best practices on leading cross-functional international teams in complex multi-site manufacturing environments.



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Episode 8 - Breaking the glass ceiling

with Alia Zafar, Group Head of People and Organisational Excellence at The Bank of Punjab

Alia Zafar was the first woman on the Board of Governors for Pakistan Cricket Board. Currently holding the role of the Group Head of People and Organisational Excellence at The Bank of Punjab. Alia is also a writer on historical art from Punjab and a senior mentor for women leaders in Myanmar.

Alia has 27+ years of experience in public, corporate and development sectors including Energy, Finance, Health, Telecoms, and Technology, having worked for organisations such as The World Food Programme, United Nations Development Programme, Crown Agents and most recently Askari Bank and The Bank of Punjab.

She has been a keynote speaker on Digital Transformation, Leadership and Management, and has also co-authored the book "HR Directory of Terms" as part of the ISO 260 task group.

In 2012, she was recognised as “HR Professional of The Year” at the Asia-Pacific HR Congress.

In this Episode of Ways Women Lead, Alia shares insights on her own leadership journey and what it is like to lead within environments where female leaders are scarce and cultural diversity had at times led to friction.

We also discussed Alia’s role in creating equitable and inclusive culture within the organisations she has worked for and how some of the best practices that Alia implemented can be replicated in other industries and environments.

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Episode 7 - Managing career change and Growing as a Leader

with Maura Nespoli, Vice President of Sales for Innovative and Sustainable Products at Prysmian Group

Maura Nespoli is the Vice President of Sales for Innovative and Sustainable Products at Prysmian Group. She holds additional responsibility for the Sustainability North America strategy and plan implementation as well as the Renewables market for USA and Canada.

Maura Nespoli has had a successful career of over 20+ years spanning leadership roles from Strategy through HR to Sustainability and Sales, having worked for prestigious multinational companies, combining management consulting and corporate experience: McKinsey, Vodafone, Ernst & Young, McDonald’s, AstraZeneca and most recently Prysmian Group, based out of Italy, the UK and currently the USA.

Maura joined Prysmian Group in 2018 as a VP with the responsibility to manage the integration of General Cable which was acquired by Prysmian Group the same year. In 2021, she moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, taking on her current role.

Maura holds a Bachelor of Science (Philosophy; Occupational and Organisational Psychology). She also completed a Global Executive MBA at the Instituto de Empresa in Madrid, Spain, and is currently studying for a Business Master’s degree in Renewables at the University of Harvard.

In this episode of Ways Women Lead, Maura shares her inspiring story of how her career experiences allowed her to grow as a leader and bring value to her current role and how she effectively managed the most significant change of her career.

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Episode 6 - Leading a Fourth-Generation Family Business

with Paula Salastie, CEO of Teknos Group

Paula Salastie, CEO of Teknos Group – a global coatings company headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, with operations in 23 countries, 1,800 employees and net sales of approx. EUR 419 million in 2021.

Paula Salastie took over the company’s operations taking on the CEO role as the fourth-generation representative of the Kiikka family in 2015. She has worked in the company since 1997 and led the Group Board since 2011. Paula is also the majority owner of Teknos Group.

In this episode of Ways Women Lead, Paula shares insights on what it is like to be the CEO of a fourth-generation, family-owned business and why this dynamic creates unique opportunities for the business and its employees.

Paula also shared insights into her own leadership journey as well as advice on how to lead effectively, balancing a highly demanding role and priorities of the business with personal priorities.

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Episode 5 - Leadership in the Energy & Process Industries

with Pascale Begert - Managing Director & President of The Board of Directors - Varo Energy Tankstorage

Pascale has had a successful career over the past 20 years in the Process and Energy industries, having worked for multinational companies such as LANXESS and OMV and more recently Varo, which she joined in 2019.

A Mechanical Engineer by background, Pascale completed her PhD at Technical University of Vienna.

Varo is a leading European energy company, operating throughout the complete energy supply chain – trading, marketing, manufacturing, storage, distribution, and retail. VARO has recently announced a sector leading commitment to Net Zero by 2040, which is a key part of Varo’s strategy to become the energy transition partner of choice.

In this Episode of Ways Women Lead, Pascale shares what it is like to work for a business that is at the forefront of the energy transition as well as insights into her own leadership journey. We discussed various topics from driving a cultural change, through handling difficult conversations, to creating a psychological safety in organizations. Pascale also shares a very personal story, which became an inspiration for many in her organization and is a wonderful representation of an authentic leadership.

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Episode 4 - Taking D&I to The Next Level

with Mariana Delgado - Head of Business Development - Earthly

Mariana Delgado has had a fantastic career in sales over the past 10 years, having explored different industries from travel to climate change and technology, working in the UK, Australia, Portugal, France and Brazil, building teams, defining sales strategies and optimising products. She also worked as a lawyer for four years in private firms and international NGOs.

Currently, a Head of Business Development at Earthly – a platform for nature-based solutions that remove carbon, restore biodiversity & support local communities, where Mariana has the opportunity to realise her passion for sustainability and technology, while also driving initiatives related to Diversity & Inclusion.

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Episode 3 - Women in the Automotive Industry

with Melanie Schuttenberg - Vice President Business Development Europe - Flex Automotive

Melanie Schuttenberg is the Vice President Business Development Europe at Flex Automotive, the Automotive Division of Flex (formerly Flextronics), an electronics manufacturing company and an original design manufacturer.

Melanie has been working within the automotive industry for nearly 20 years. Having progressed through roles of increased responsibility, she gained experience working for leading global organisations such as TRW, Magna, and most recently Flex, which she joined in 2015.

Anna Gromadzka discusses with Melanie what a career in an automotive company looks like, how to build and grow diverse and inclusive teams, and how and why to advance own career in the automotive industry.

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Episode 2 - The Power of Role Models

with Charly Young - MBE, CEO & Co-founder of The Girls' Network

Why role models are important to achieving gender diversity, how can networking help to grow and develop oneself, what effective mentoring looks like, and more with Charly Young MBE, the CEO & Co-founder, The Girls' Network.

The Girls’ Network mission is to inspire and empower girls from the least advantaged communities by connecting them with a mentor and a network of professional role models who are women.

Charly founded The Girls’ Network with her friend Becca in 2013, whilst they were teaching in secondary schools in North West London. The Girls’ Network mission is to inspire and empower girls from the least advantaged communities by connecting them with a mentor and a network of professional role models who are women. Charly’s background is in education that supports the whole child, and the use of networks to facilitate this. Prior to teaching, she worked at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) as an education researcher, and with Whole Education supporting school leadership teams.

She is passionate about the use of networks to empower, support and mobilise people, and believes that good mentoring can be transformational, for both mentor and mentee.

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Episode 1 - Women in Tech

with Michelle Cowan - former Client Director at Cisco and Co-founder of socialsendr

We want more women in Tech!

Former Client Director at Cisco and co-founder of socialsendr, Michelle Cowan has had a successful career in Technology for over 25 years, 17 of them spent at Cisco. Recently, Michelle co-founded socialsendr – a marketing technology company - and is also an owner of Justo Associates – a sales strategy consultancy. She holds a Non-Executive Director position at two other companies - Torchbearer Interactive Ltd, a software development business, and Santini7, a sports nutrition business. Also, a Trustee at the Denby Dale Centre - an independent local charity.

In this conversation, Michelle shared why she continues to be fascinated by technology and what a career in tech looks like as well as a practical advice on how to start and grow career in tech and how to attract more women to tech.

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