Executive Insights - Words Of Wisdom From Industry Leaders

From Channel 4’s first female CEO to the Executive Director at Goldman Sachs, make 2022 your best business year yet

By Hannah Connolly

5 January 2022

ith the new year comes the annual sense of heightened expectations. As the festivities begin to wear away and the fairy lights are switched off for another year, it can be easy to fall victim to January pressures. The unspoken collective sense that we emerge into a new 2020-something, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and more capable than ever before - akin to some sort of daunting post-Christmas miracle.

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As an executive, a new year can feel even more fraught with the overwhelming pressure to have it all figured out, especially when you are leading a team. So you could be planning to take your business to the next level, move into your next funding round or launch a project that has been in the pipeline. January is all go, but it is essential to remember that though pressures exist, there’s no better time to launch and learn than at the precipice of a clean 12 month slate, bolstered by the learnings of the previous year.

For CEOs, Executives and C-suite operators, it can prove tricky to find advice and the top can feel like a lonely place. So, instead of looking upwards for advice, opt for the left to the right approach by reaching out to senior players in your network pool. In the meantime, The Stack has you covered, presenting words of wisdom from women of executive excellence.

Looking ahead, The Stack is propelling you to the next level of executive leadership with a programing of industry heavyweights in our regular event series: Executive Realness. Kicking off the series is Catherine Lenson, C-suite leader, Board Director and Angel Investor. She also happens to be the first female Managing Partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, the world’s largest technology investment firm with $100+ billion under management in the two SoftBank Vision Funds. Join our host Roselyn Xavier as she chats to Catherine about her trailblazing journey to the top. RSVP here!

From setting boundaries, recognising the power of identifying your strengths and even some interview advice for getting into the C-suite itself, these CEOs are helping you get 2022 off to the right start, read below for all their best advice.

Every step is a step in the right direction…

Grace Beverley, Founder of Shreddy and TALA

“Sometimes work is about putting one foot in front of the other, not every day needs to be about fulfilling your company’s mission - sometimes it’s just about doing what you can do on that day and then moving on to the next. Sometimes that’s what gets me through without breakdowns, just taking each day as it comes and each problem as it does too.”

Your individual skill set is your superpower…

Seun Toye-Kayode Executive Director at Goldman Sachs

“Being good at everything is a surefire way to success, right? When an opportunity comes up, no one thinks about the generally ‘good’ people. They think about the people with relevant skills. We are all unique for a reason, so find your thing and maximise it.”

For those looking to take the steps into the executive suite this year, Seun also had some words of wisdom:

“I treat interviews as a conversation. Try to make sure that the balance of the speaker to the responder is equal. Focus your questions on something that the interviewer really cares about. That way, they get to speak about something they love and will leave the interview feeling good about themselves – and you.”

Give yourself the space to love what you do…

Lavinya Stennett, Founder and CEO of the Black Curriculum

“Boundaries are important to me for preserving my mental health. Passion is a good thing. It’s a great gift to have. But it’s important to erect your boundaries because otherwise you become too consumed by the thing you are doing, and then you don’t give yourself the space to love it, so you end up becoming quite resentful towards it and not honouring yourself in the process. It’s important to recharge.”

Also imparting the advice that age really is but a number, and that you should always take a challenge no matter the person presenting it:

“Age – it’s not what I see. I don’t feel like wisdom or experience necessarily comes with age. I respect people on my team who are older than me because of the skills they have. But if I’m wrong about something, I do expect the team to challenge me whether I am right or wrong.”

Set yourself key deliverables…

Alex Mahon of Foundry and Channel 4’s first female CEO

“Just before I go to bed, I write down three to five things I want to get done the following day and then, whatever happens, the next day, at least I got those tasks completed. Sometimes it’s writing a speech or having a complicated phone call.”

Going for the C-Suite…

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and CEO of STEMettes

“In addition to what is in the job description and person specification, what can you find out about the company's ambitions? In the interview, reveal the research you have done in the questions you answer and the questions you ask. The idea is to demonstrate you have a genuine interest in the business – then indicate how your expertise could help push the company towards its goals. Remember, you could be the solution for a problem they need to solve.”

The Short Stack

As the new year rolls around, take advice from leaders in their field to help take your executive leadership to the next level.

By Hannah Connolly

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