herCAREER: What are three key elements you can share on what women should focus on if they want to advance in their career?
Dace Līga Luters-Thümmel: First of all, timing is of essence. If you think the time is not right – due to family, private life or other reasons – and you turn down an offer, be assured that this occasion will have passed. THIS offer will not be offered to you for a second time. So, seize the moment, if you really want to achieve it. Younger professionals have the perception that occasions like this will arrive again later. Be assured, they will not. I am quoting a saying: “opportunity dances with those who are already on the dance floor.”
Secondly, do not stay too long away from the market you are aiming at geographically. If you are working abroad, keep an eye on your contacts in your home country and/or home base of the company. People who stay in foreign countries for too long, for example more than one year, lose their ties and others who stayed ‘at home’ will get promoted passing you, because they have upheld the better contacts and networks in your company. At present, with a bigger scarcity of talent this ‘couch potato’ rule of people being preferred and promoted staying in their home country in their headquarters might become of less importance, but only until the labour market gets more crowded again, I would say.
Thirdly, work actively on your network, but not only. Recent studies of 2020 have shown very clearly in the virtual working context nowadays and by data analysis that even though women tend to have a cosy network among themselves, they lack connections and ways of communication to the higher levels in the department or company in contrast to their male colleagues. That means, women have to actively work on being closer connected to the upper levels in the company and should not just stay in their well-known comfort zone.
herCAREER: How do you find a mentor? And who is actually a suitable mentor?
Dace Līga Luters-Thümmel: Now comes the hard part. In one of this year’s Harvard Business Reviews, one could read a study that revealed that 76% of the interviewed people were of the opinion that mentoring is important for a career. But 56% of them told the interviewers that they personally have never got any.
To be honest, it is a difficult challenge to find a suitable mentor. As we all know there still is a heavy gender asymmetry in top management. This means that there are rarely women in top positions. We rather experience a decline of women in top positions in COVID times when boards in Germany get more male again. The only choice would then be a male mentor. It is highly recommended to look for a mentor who is NOT working in the same company. As we now encounter another stumbling block, namely the gossip that would be related to the older mentor, younger woman situation in your own company. This gets worse the better you are looking. It certainly would be a good idea to join an NGO that has the objective to improve mentorship especially for women. The mentoring of men among themselves – the boys networks – has by definition advantages as it does not create these male-female intricacies.
herCAREER: How can networks be the support network for women in advancing in their career?
Dace Līga Luters-Thümmel: Certainly, networks do help to exchange experiences, to share good tips and to create a referral network among the members of such a network if you get to know about a good position being discussed in your own company or advertised. But as I said earlier, do not stay too much in your own comfort zone. Women ONLY networks will not be enough. Remember the gender asymmetry on higher levels that I mentioned earlier.
herCAREER: At herCAREER, the focus is on professional exchanges, which is based on the personal experiences and the knowledge of the sparring partners. As an organizer, it is also in our best interest to support women beyond the exhibition and make our networks accessible. We would therefore like to ask you if you would also act as a sparring partner in addition to the trade fair participation. If so, we would ask you to name the topics for which you would act as a sparring partner in bullet points.
- International career
- Fortune 500 companies
- Consultancy professionals
- EU expertise
- Women networks
herCAREER: Are there topics for which you are personally looking for a sparring partner and would like to continue a professional and personal exchange? Then please name keywords for your topics.
- Personal branding
- Visibility on social-media
herCAREER: How can or would you like to be contacted?