International Women’s Day is bigger this year than ever before. Whatever your views on Trump or the gender pay gap, the conversation about women in business is a big one. It is also one that companies around the globe are sitting up and listening to.
We spoke to top female CEO, Natasha Mudhar, of Sterling Group, about the challenges she has faced in her career and why this is an issue every business person needs to know about. From launching luxury brand Aston Martin in emerging markets, to working on a project which could end poverty by 2030, Natasha has a very interesting story to tell.
Talk us through your career journey. How did you become a CEO?
I was born and brought up in London and graduated from City University with a BSC degree in Sociology and Media Studies. I joined Sterling in 2004, as soon as I completed my education. I sometimes wish I had started much earlier! I am now the company’s MD and CEO and my role covers both strategy and operations. I also work across our other businesses which including Sterling Realty, an international luxury property firm.
What are the main challenges you think women in business are facing in the workplace at the moment?
Even though London is a multi-cultural and cosmopolitan city, when I started my career it was not very common to see highly successful Indian females in the communications sector. Also the sector I work in was, and still is, quite male-dominated. I guess it was a case of double discrimination.
In terms of gender equality in the workplace, strides have been made, but even in the Western world, inequalities still exist. Whether this is in terms of there being a limited number of women holding top tier positions within companies, or the ongoing issue of gender pay gaps.
What is your advice to other female CEOs?
My advice to women in business would be to create value in what you do to avoid feeling your career is meaningless.
Work hard. Know your strengths and always surround yourself with a team that brings out the best in you. Never underestimate the power of initiative and innovation. Embrace fully the role of change agents, focus more on the ‘can’ and the ‘why not’ – a positive outlook goes a long way.
Make sure you set yourself career goals so that you don’t lose focus and so that you can see where you are making progress.
Above all, women in business need to always remember that you CAN be a change maker!
Are changes happening and do you think things like International Women’s Day help make a difference?
Year on year, International Women’s Day has been set aside as a clarion call to recognise, amidst ourselves, the work we have ahead for building a world where sexes are defined not by their gender but recognised as binaries. Two uniquely distinct, but equal entities, roaming the face of this earth, and in some cases shooting for the stars.
Gender equality can only be achieved when everyone, irrespective of being a woman or a man have access and enjoy the same rewards, opportunities and resources. It’s not about special rights but having equal rights. The aim of gender equality should be to achieve the same outcomes for both genders for the same level of work.
We need to redefine leadership qualities so that these qualities don’t look gendered any more. And hopefully this will ensure we have a more diverse pool of talents across all levels of work.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Any campaign where I have been at the nexus of convening corporate, government, civil society, talent and media to create impact, such as what I have done with the Global Goals for sustainable development campaign. The campaign was established by the renowned filmmaker, campaigner and SDG advocate Richard Curtis and our aim is to popularise the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals that were launched in 2015 by 193 world leaders. If met, we could end poverty, reduce inequalities and tackle climate changes by 2030.
As a campaign our strength is diversity in the roster of clients we work with – we represent countries, corporates, celebrities, NGOs, governments, thought-leaders, consumer brands – as well as the markets. Campaigns need to be more globally aware and confining oneself to regional boundaries is a liability. Local is no longer the norm.
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