Stories Talk | Presentation Skills and Effective Storytelling
The inspiration and founder of The Boardroom, a networking "space" for female executives, is herself a woman who fought every day for the acknowledgment and promotion of women who deserve and should be recognized.
By Mia Kollia
What milestones in your life shaped your path from your studies until now?
The milestones in my life were: My career path in New York, my EMBA studies at Harvard Business School, the transition from law to business, the relocation to Switzerland, the decision to build my own company. Each of these milestones has had its influence on my journey.
What was the main inspiration behind the creation of The Boardroom?
Like most passion projects, The Boardroom was born out of a personal search to find a solution to a problem of mine. In this particular case, it was how I could build a successful career on boards. I quickly realized that such career progression is not linear, in that a successful career as a senior executive does not guarantee a future job on boards. And this applies even more to female executives, who, unfortunately, remain the exception to the rule. So instead of describing the problem, I needed to find a solution. So when in my MBA at Harvard Business School, our professors asked, "what problem do you want to solve?" I raised my hand and said, "Let's get more women on boards!". And that's how The Boardroom was born.
The Boardroom gathers in the form of a "one-stop-shop" everything a high-level executive needs to develop to become a successful member of the Board of Directors:
-Training, with a specialized program of five (5) modules and board meeting simulations.
- Development of specific leadership skills deemed necessary at the board level (leadership development) and learning from peers (peer learning).
- Strategic networking, through the participation of high-ranking executives, emphasizes male supporters, men in positions of influence who support female entrepreneurship and empowerment.
- Exclusive events with positive models (role models) from all over the world, with the logic "you can't be what you can't see."
What is the way to move towards better professional conditions for women?
In Greece, only 1% of companies have a woman as Chairman of the Board of Directors. In the Netherlands, there are more CEOs named "Peter" than CEOs who are women. Also, in Switzerland, there are more CEOs named Urs, Martin, or Peter than women. These and many other examples are questionable, especially when we talk about developing countries where women make up more than 50% of the population.
However, the participation of women in administrative positions in business and politics is now a demand in the market. Legislative regulations, requirements of institutional investors and proxy advisors, as well as global campaigns for women's empowerment have created a fertile ground for the advancement of capable women to top management positions. As women today, we have a historic opportunity to assert our place in the business world and break down outdated prejudices and stereotypes that act as roadblocks to achieving gender equality.
What are the most important successes of Boardroom to date, and why did you decide to come to Greece?
Within a year of operation, we already have thousands of applications across Europe, 300 members in Switzerland, Denmark, and Greece, ten countries in the expansion plan, and essential appointments to company boards. We also published our first book featuring successful female professionals and members of the Boardroom in Switzerland. In January 2023, we will participate in the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on women's participation in company boards. Greece was, for me, the logical next stop of the Boardroom for obvious emotional reasons and because I know very well that Greece has an impressive female potential that remains untapped.
What were the most significant challenges, how did you overcome them, and what did they teach you?
Life and career abroad, away from family and friends from a young age, as a woman in a predominantly male environment, was full of professional and personal difficulties, which made every success even more important. I always made sure to surround myself with people who were better than me, from whom I could learn and be inspired, and who, at the same time, wanted to see me succeed. What did the difficulties teach me? If it were easy, everyone would be doing it!
Are there any beacons in your life, or have there been any that have defined you?
My mother, who with her life taught me that as women, if we want to, we can successfully combine career and family.
My father was a shining example of a male supporter.
My brother always treats me as an equal.
My husband is a fellow traveler in life. Without his support, I would never have been able to build the career I always dreamed of.
How important is personal time – do you have it? Unless "personal time" for you is the time at work.
My work is now my whole life, or rather I have dedicated my entire life to my work, intending to make the world a better place for generations to come.
What are your dreams for the future?
Ανυπομονώ να δω το the Boardroom να μεγαλώνει, χώρα-χώρα, φέρνοντας κοντά άντρες και γυναίκες από όλον τον κόσμο!