On March 8, 2022, KBC celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD) to recognize the contributions of women. Under this year's theme of "Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow," KBC will shine the spotlight on four of its trailblazing women who aim to help mitigate climate change and build a more sustainable future.
These women share their experiences gained along their journey from developing confidence to speak up, forming allies to support personal and professional endeavors, and finally, discovering ways to do things better to create a more sustainable and equitable future.
Dreams and aspirations live within each of us. Yet, few of us are fully aware of our own potential. At times, it can be hard to see the admirable traits in ourselves. However, believing in your own potential is a crucial part of developing your self-confidence.
So, how do you achieve all you’re capable of? You have to believe in your potential, be confident in understanding your strengths and weaknesses, and be assertive so you can advance your career. Philippa Hayward, Principal Consultant, Technology Pre-Sales explains, “Using your talents is a good place to start. It gives you the confidence to promote yourself. When I started work, I was confident in my technical ability and was able to build on that to gain respect while building more confidence in collaborating with my colleagues and clients.”
A great way to truly believe in your potential is to prove to yourself you have it. Act on it; challenge yourself. "The women in STEM fields have embraced their dreams and proven that women are just as capable as their male counterparts," comments Brenda Sollier, Software Services Engineer. By pushing your limits, you'll force yourself to try new things and take risks that could make the world better. Achieving your goal allows you to showcase your potential. You’ll also gain a well-earned sense of accomplishment and unwavering confidences.
Throughout life, many people recognize the hidden potential inside us. Often, these people generously provide the structure, guidance and support necessary to reach major milestones and achieve success.
Connecting with people who believe in your potential is important. According to Hayward, "Make sure you invest time in getting to know your colleagues and discover what they are doing. You can support one another through good and bad times as well as raise your profile.”
These allies—whether a mentor, peer, a boss, or confidant— can expand your professional horizon. "I’ve had mentors in different stages of my career who’ve helped my professional development. They helped me understand the power of networking in taking my career forward. They taught me to think through the decision-making process in critical situations and the value of having a healthy work-life balance. Both are incredible leaders, innovative thinkers and assertive professionals. It was always a treat to see them in action!" said Lourdes Cozzitorto, VP Technology Services. Louise Maratos, Principal Consultant adds, "I have always had a senior female role model to work closely with who has helped me build my confidence and believe I can do my job well."
While allies serve to offer support, share opportunities, and give advice on how you can build upon and leverage your strengths, they should also illuminate weaknesses that may impede your progress. They have experience and have gone through the growing pains to achieve success. Furthermore, they will know the type of training and skills you need to develop.
Our participants agreed that excellence intertwined with inclusiveness and innovation are woven into KBC's fiber. A friendly and helpful environment, there is a sense of belonging when you join the KBC family. KBC leadership provides a supportive platform for all people to grow both personally and professionally. The participants shared similar experiences of pursuing a variety of growth opportunities throughout their career from developing new skills and self-confidence to advancing creativity and curiosity for professional advancement.
In addition to professional support from employers, tapping into outside support is priceless. The participants discussed support from parents, teachers, spouses, and colleagues who helped shape their personal and professional lives. They agreed that guidance was invaluable from parents and teachers for introducing and supporting early career choices. Today, supportive spouses and colleagues continue to serve as a beacon of light along this journey.
Two of the greatest challenges facing women in roles at all organizational levels include speaking up and keeping a work-life balance.
While women bring a unique perspective to business, did you know that men do approximately 75% of the talking in meetings? When it comes to virtual meetings, a recent study reports that 45% of women business leaders have difficulty speaking up. Overall, many women struggle with getting their voice heard among industry experts at conferences and male-counterparts in the workplace.
The fear of speaking often stems from shyness or doubt and requires making a conscious effort to change. The decision may include practicing presentations to reduce stress and build confidence or speaking at every meeting. “I constantly make myself speak to add value to business conversations, especially decisions impacting my area. This situation doesn’t happen naturally, but it is always a decision,” said Cozzitorto. She adds, “Have confidence in what you have to say and ask for what you deserve. With that confidence, you can be assertive in meeting day-to-day challenges.”
Living in today’s complex world disrupts a work-life balance for many women. Overcoming this common challenge requires an agile spirit to adapt to ongoing organizational change and life changes. It’s important to be flexible, keep a positive attitude, and view the situation as a learning opportunity
"Building resilience is important, too," adds Maratos. “You will encounter times when things go awry. The values - respect, trust, honesty, and integrity - that we hold for each other as colleagues should not be forgotten as they are core to who we are.
In closing, International Women's Day 2022 is a reminder that senior leadership plays an important role within organizations to develop and support their female leaders while advancing gender equality.
Meet our leading women who are modest and generous with a streak of courage. Each of these leaders comes from a place of openness and honesty where she has a knack for building bonds with her peers and gives others the opportunity to be heard as she aims for creating a more sustainable and equitable future.
Lourdes Cozzitorto, VP Technology Services - My journey into a Technology career was a happy accident. I am an Economist by background. I started my career in the Product Management group as an Economics Analyst, mainly building economic models inside economic forecasting analysis software. From there, my career in technology blossomed. Once I felt I understood the product-part of the business, I wanted to understand the client-side. That led me into customer-facing roles. I started with Technical Sales, then transitioned to Business Development and lastly to Services, where I’ve found my home. Started leading a small team in North America to then moving into Global role to where I am today.It’s been incredible to learn from customers and mentor an engineering group.
"Take charge of your own career and speak your mind! If you don’t do it, no one will do it for you."
Philippa Hayward, Principal Consultant, Technology Pre-Sales - I come from a medical family. As soon as I showed an aptitude for math and science, some of my teachers suggested I should become doctor ‘like my daddy’. My chemistry teacher encouraged me to study Chemical Engineering. I found the curriculum appealing because a clear connection appeared between theory and practice unlike esoteric, pure science subjects. In my penultimate year of school, I attended a taster course in Chemical Engineering run for women by WISE (Women into Science and Engineering – a UK group promoting STEM careers for women) and was hooked.
In 1994, I joined KBC. Working in a two-person group, we supported the development of Petro-SIM’s predecessor, Petrofine. We worked with the specialists to determine how we should represent particular aspects of a process in the software. Hidden away in Petro-SIM are a few pieces of code that I wrote back in the 1990’s! In 2000, the centre for the development of our software was shifting to North America. I gradually transitioned to a software support function where I helped clients use our software to design, monitor, troubleshoot, and optimize their facilities. Over time, I’ve led both the European and global simulation support group. I spent a year in product management and am currently working in pre-sales for our digital business line.
"Be true to yourself. If you are interested in a career in science/technology – go for it. There is a growing body of evidence that diverse workplaces are more productive and innovative."
Louise Maratos, Principal Consultant - I have always loved science and math and wanted an environmental-focused career. In school, I was inspired by how a chemical engineer could make a difference to the planet from either working in operations or in technology research and design. After completing my undergraduate degree, I started my post graduate work in operations support. I worked on the core principles of process optimization through six sigma and lean principles in specialty chemicals. Then, I moved to commissioning and process optimization in the highly regulated water industry. From there, I moved to oil and gas downstream and working in operations and technical consulting roles for 2 of the oil majors. During my time with Shell Global solutions across downstream, integrated gas (LNG/GTL) and upstream, I made the transition from operations into consulting. In 2018, I joined KBC as a subject matter expert and consultant. Then, KBC offered me the opportunity to lead and support the junior consultants within the European team. After 2.5 years, I am now the principal consultant and have served as the regional team lead in Europe & Africa.
"In an ever changing industry, have the ability to adapt, be flexible in the skills you have now, and the skills you will need to acquire for the future. Enjoy what you do!"