News & Voices

Open up and Embrace a Beautiful Life

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On May 11, BiMBA at Peking University, together with Intel, held the event of the Open Up and Embrace a Beautiful Life, the theme of which was women leadership development. Dr. Xiaohui Lv, assistant professor of BiMBA, National School of Development at Peking University, Ms. Pat McDonald, vice president, HR director from Intel Talent Org., Ms. Carmen Law, HR director from Intel China and Ms. Rupal Shah Hollenbeck, vice president, SMG, general manager from Intel China shared their experience as female leaders and managers.

Women hold up half the sky, once praised Chairman Mao in 1940s. The following half a century saw the improvement of women’ life and their rising status. However, in a man’s world, how to close gender difference and boost women’ leadership still remains a question. Promoting diversity and encouraging women to move up career ladder and embrace a beautiful life is a hot topic. As a world-known corporation, Intel has taken steps to translate the idea into action.

When analyzing why there are not many women on the top, Dr. Lv summarized three crucial elements for women to climb from middle to top: skills and talent, network and relation, business and strategic acumen. Since there lies huge potential in women, it is necessary to foster confidence and better balance work and life. What women need to accomplish is to identify right opportunities for business and future of their organization and help implement the strategy.

Dr. Lv established a framework for appraising resources and capabilities based on SWAT to spot internal strength and external opportunities. Women are more objective and innovative than men so that they can exploit opportunities before others. Their wisdom and intelligence can facilitate the creation and capturing of more value for the company’s success. In order to do that, women have to rise up to challenges as how to recognize value and how to develop skills. From individual’s perspective, having freedom to define one’s value proposition and focusing on strengths rather than weakness can help to seize the external opportunities.

She proposed three things for corporation to help women: first, recognizing the equality between man and woman. A family can only remain intact with woman taking care of children, and this is where companies can offer help. Second, by engaging more in decision-making process, women can alter the previous men-dominated status quo and contribute more innovation to strategic planning. Third, the world can be changed by doing the right things and corporations can aid more people starting with more women. “Thinking more about quality rather than quantity” and “focusing on under-explored strength of women”, Dr. Lv ended her exciting speech by giving the following advice: find your own rhythm and do not rush to adapt to everything; peel the onion to get to the root of the matter; think strategically and act entrepreneurially; and broaden your envision.

Since her internship at Intel, Pat has learned to value everyone’s perspective. Intel’s competitiveness comes from its diverse talents and cultures which are the key to growth. From her experience of working as HR manager, she knew the significance of delivering for the business and taking good care of people all the time. Three measures taken by Intel are to grow its diverse employees, to increase the pipeline of women and underrepresented minorities and to fund initiatives to support women and minorities. To this end, Intel launched programs to promote women network and sponsor senior women to higher level.

Impressing the audience by her passion and commitment, Rupal started her speech by emphasizing openness and discipline. “What excites you? What do you want to do? Does your value match what you are doing and what your company needs?” Rupal raised provoking questions. Innovation end-to-end is embedded in Intel’s DNA. Embracing a maximum of diverse backgrounds and expertise of employees, Intel is bound to win in the market place. “Innovation happens everywhere with more and more women entering into this field,” said Rupal, but it is not enough, and “we have to bring more female to get better business outcomes” because by doing the right thing, capabilities will be unlocked for the sake of human kind and business.

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The ingredient we start with is sand. Everything else is value-added by people. Rupal quoted Andy Bryant, chairmen of the Intel board and explained that the greatest asset for a corporate is the Intel people. “The bold and passionate commitment to company and making everything smart with means you can count on give us an unrivaled life experience.”

“Have your rhythm and pace found!” the next speaker Carmen remarked. Career plus family determine who a female truly is. Corporations have to continue developing and create a place to nurture women for a successful career while supporting their personal needs. In her opinion, Intel is a good example in this regard for providing a great place to work for women by increasing female’s presence, promoting development and building community, and attaching importance to whole-life-circle benefits for women such as maternity and postnatal leave. Additionally, social clubs for women is an excellent platform to communicate and learn from each other. With 16 years’ experience in HR and a happy family, Carmen comments that life is full of choices. “Career development is not a one way journey. Take many different paths.” Asking is free, she said. Sharing with people what is on one’s mind and having an early conversation and plans are always beneficial to one’s career.

In the panel discussion, speakers answered questions and made exciting and inspiring interactions with the MBAs. When answering the question How to Move Up the Career Ladder for Women? Is There a Secret? Pat believes that to moving up, technical excellence is the key. “Even doing nontechnical jobs, it is important to be excellent in the role you play in your company.” She also mentioned that it is perseverance and believe in oneself that helped her go further despite tons of challenges. “Be true to yourself” and “see your own values”, she said that at last, “no one looks into the mirror except yourself”.

Rupal gave advice that Never Say No in the First 24 Hours. It might be the first response that “I cannot do it” when new and adventurous things turn up. But saying no without further consideration means turning down a potential opportunity. Rupal suggested to taking a second thought, finding reasons why saying no and thinking how to say yes. In addition, “believing in other people who can see something in ourselves is so important”, she said, then taking a leap of faith with bold moves.

Taking risks, otherwise you might never know what you can do, Carmen also confirmed that network of sponsors is critical to one’s success. “Building your team because they can push you stronger and leave room for people in your team to take bigger responsibility” she said.

In the Q&A session, a participant posed a question How is Your Husband’s Career? With a big smile on her face, Rupal attributed her success to her hard work and the support from her family. “My husband understands my life and work and shows empathy.” By giving mutual support and sharing family priority, family members are always a strong backing. “It takes a village to build a career.” She smiled. As for the secret formula for a successful career, Carmen mentioned the importance of unified goals between a couple.

By the end of today’s event, Dr. Lv presented BiMBA souvenirs to the Intel speakers. She hoped that the audience, especially the female MBAs, could get positive energy and practical strategy from today’s speeches and discussion.

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