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We chat with Esme Borgelt, Kellogg’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, about what the next generation of female leaders need to flourish and some of the great insights she’s gathered during her career.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from another female in business? 

At Kellogg’s, we talk a lot about leadership courage and embracing nimble learning. 

A few years ago, we had a regional conference and networking event for our Women of Kellogg’s (WOK) resource group, where a Japanese colleague asked me to be her mentor as she was inspired by my story of how I built my early career in a male dominated environment. The journey and our relationship continue to this day and I learn as much from her as she does from me. Coming from a very hierarchical and male dominated environment in Japan where 70 per cent of the workforce are men, she is someone who has helped teach me how to allow myself to be more vulnerable in the workplace. 

I have also come to recognise that some of the things which made me great early on in my career, can be the very things holding me back from being a better leader today.  For example, early in my career when I was a freshly minted sales manager I fretted at every little failure until my manager said to me “If the worst thing in the world happened today, the sun would still come up tomorrow”. 

So, the best advice I ever received is to always keep things in perspective, and to hang on to your sense of humour when things get tough. I have grown to be a huge believer in progress over perfection! 

Lean forward in your mentoring relationships as somewhere at some point someone will say something that sparks something inside you which will light a fire for your development, and on a lifelong journey of learning, these moments are pure gold but you have to chase them down.

What does the next generation of female leaders need to flourish in the future? 

At Kellogg’s, we firmly believe in equality and that everyone should have the opportunity to thrive, instilling a sense of entrepreneurship across our teams. The next generation of female leaders face some unique challenges in their development, and it’s important they feel and believe that they can make a real impact and be valued for their contributions in businesses. 

Research says that men will apply for a job if they have 60 per cent of the attributes required – and women will not until they are confident that they have a 100 per cent covered. Feeling inadequate and seeking external validation is largely a female trait that has been ingrained in us as women, so we need to work hard at managing this and overcome the challenges of inherent, unconscious bias in the workplace. I find myself still having to manage those feelings from time to time.

In our business, we still have women under-index significantly in certain business functions such as sales and supply chain, and I am incredibly passionate about addressing this gender imbalance by accelerating the development of female leaders from within our own organisation. One of the initiatives we have recently launched is a bespoke leadership training course for women in sales and supply chain to facilitate just that and build up the confidence of our young talent to increasingly step into more senior roles in the future.

The next generation of women should not undersell themselves and be clear on what they want in order to flourish in the future. If we stand up for ourselves, lift each other up, chase every opportunity we have, to grow and change things from within, we will start to see systemic change, reset culture, and thrive in future leadership. 

Let all of us, men and women at all levels of business, commit to make a difference to transform our businesses and our teams to be a more diverse and inclusive workplace, where we can all be ourselves and bring our best to work every day.

The post Q&A with Kellogg’s MD: The best advice I ever received appeared first on Inside Retail.