Anna Wintour is Vogue, Vogue is Anna Wintour


When we think of this fashion icon, the first few words that come to mind include power, glamour, sophisticated, graceful and the main one being a fashion guru.

What Anna Wintour has done with Vogue is an example that brands can learn from in terms of brand personality, brand essence and brand strategy.

Some of these insights include:

1.     Executing a clear vision

Anna’s vision of aspiration, trendsetting, elegance, being ahead of the curve, is consistently visible across all media touch points, from the magazine to stylists to photographers and even on the online platform. The benefit in this case is consistency, which often brands struggle with. Therefore, wherever and whenever a consumer is exposed to the Vogue brand, they would see the same message and hence explains the success of the Vogue brand where Wintour is able to maintain a strong balance between her vision and the integrity of the magazine.

2.     Keeping your consumer at the heart of the brand

Wintour’s creativity and innovation was not only the best in the industry but it defined the fashion industry. She was the first one to start the popular “high-low” fashion trend, which is wearing a high-end top combined with a high-street pair of jeans. This way Vogue was able to reach the aspirational consumer without excluding the affluent consumer base. Being able to appeal to both segments equally without cannibalizing one another and staying true to Vogue’s brand essence is what the other brands can learn from Wintour’s empire.

3.     Don’t be afraid to make a change

When everyone else in the fashion industry was getting supermodels to be on the cover of Vogue, Anna Wintour decided to go in the other direction and feature celebrities instead. In this way, Vogue got the first mover advantage and was able to extend itself in the entertainment industry where everyone wanted to be associated with the Vogue brand. This is an example for other brands to not hesitate to make a change. If they feel there is a potential, they must jump on the opportunity because it might be too late before they realize that it is gone!

4.     Charity is everyone’s responsibility

Anna Wintour partnered with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume department and helped raise over $50million thereby, attaching the brand Vogue with corporate social responsibility and made it stand for something much greater than just glitz, glamour and style. Charity is a form of giving and it does not matter how big or small the value is as long as one is contributing to the society in some way to better the lives of people.  

 5.     Transparency is key

Being transparent, helps a company to gain the trust from the audience be it consumers, shareholders, society etc. In the case of Vogue, Anna Wintour allowed cameras to follow the teams throughout while the largest September issue was being produced. It became an extremely popular documentary as people were deeply fascinated and excited to learn about the workings of a global brand like Vogue. This helped in gaining customer loyalty which in turn, means increased word-of-mouth marketing, which we know is the best form of marketing. Also, it would lead to consumers becoming ambassadors of Vogue thereby increasing the equity of the brand.

6.     Be different and significant

Vogue is still the industry standard due to Anna Wintour’s continued efforts of creating synergy across all the mediums. Wintour has ensured that continuous innovation takes place and also that there is an engaged employee community where members can voice out their opinions for the greater good of the brand Vogue. There is open communication within the organization which creates a healthy environment and brings out the best in the employees. If the members are not empowered, then the brand cannot and will not succeed.


I have personally followed Anna Wintour’s journey, watched the documentary ‘The September Issue’ and I can say that one of the main reasons for Vogue’s success is that Wintour leads by example. She knows exactly what she is out there to achieve and that not only helps her team but it drives continuous innovation thereby, maintaining Vogue’s status as a market leader.

Lastly, as Anna Wintour quotes, “In the end I do respond to my own instincts. Sometimes they’re successful, and obviously sometimes they’re not. But you have to, I think, remain true to what you believe in.!/talk/articles-publications/articles/what-your-brand-can-learn-from-anna-wintour/

Henna Mohnani

American University in Dubai 


Sacrifice Today, Succeed Tomorrow -A Lesson with Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry


To maintain a consistent theme across my blog posts, I chose to shine the spotlight again on the fashion industry.  This time, on a particular individual – Angela Ahrendts, who is the current chief executive of British luxury label Burberry.   

Dating back to adolescence, Angela always knew she wanted to be in the fashion industry.  However, it was not smooth sailing for her to get to where she is today.   The day after graduating university, Angela packed up her bags and flew from Indiana  to New York to make her dreams a living reality.  Leaving her primary school sweetheart behind, which  resulted in a 17 year long distance relationship, Angela worked 80 hour weeks to earn her stripes in the New York Fashion scene.  Eventually, her hard work and admirable determination warranted her the well deserved positions of Executive Vice President at Liz Claiborne and President of Donna Karan.  With her career under control and settling down her personal life -married, with 3 kids, a dog and living in a comfortable country home, Angela did not think she would ever reset her life again.  Though somehow, even in a state of high uncertainty, she picked up her life once again and relocated her whole family to England.  Although I am not yet a wife or mother, I can imagine how difficult it must be for both Angela and her family to refamiliarize themselves in a completely new environment just when everything seemed picture perfect. 

Moving was not the hardest part.  It marked the beginning of a tough and strenuous journey to bring Burberry back from the depths of the fashion industry.  When Angela arrived and took on the reins as the new CEO, she found herself amidst disinterested employees and an extremely unfavourable image of Burberry in the public eye.  Determined to revitalize Burberry, Angela did not have many supporters in the first few years she started .   She fired the whole Hong Kong design team within 1 year and closed numerous factories -a decision so shocking  she had to justify  herself in front of parliament for doing so.    

From completely remodelling her life in a foreign country, heading a deteriorating fashion label  and making questionable executive decisions, the tough calls  she has made in both her personal life and career are what has gotten Angela to the pinnacle of her career today.  If it wasn’t for Angela, it would even be questionable as to whether Burberry would still be a successful fashion label today, regardless as a luxury or budget brand. 


The insights for me after reading about Angela’s journey can be summarized in a few points:
1.  Hard work and persistence will always pay off if you keep your eye on the prize and keep pushing your limits. 

2.  Sacrifices made today will be worth the success you are deserving of tomorrow. (If #1 above is applied)

3.  There is not anything that cannot be overcome.  Temporary forks in the roads are just challenges to help us realize our real potential and to achieve the next level in our careers we are all capable of.  (If both points above are applied).


Alice Liu

University of Toronto

Recipe for Success: Mrs. Fields Cookie Empire

Mrs. Fields Cookies

It’s easy to bake a batch of cookies… simply follow the instructions on the back of the box and in 14 to 16 minutes you are rewarded with a delicious treat. However, it is far more difficult to make a $450 million dollar business using the same ingredients, yet Debbi Fields managed to do just that. Growing up in a family who struggled to make ends meet with a mother who hated cooking, Mrs. Fields found comfort in baking cookies.  After completing high school, she got married and enjoyed her role as a stay-at-home wife.  She seemed to have it all until one night, at a cocktail party with her husband, she was chastised by the host for using incorrect grammar.  Mrs. Fields was embarrassed by her blunder and the public humiliation that followed at the hands of her host.  She was reduced to tears but, in that moment, she had a wakeup call and decided she needed to pursue what she loved, which for her, meant baking cookies.  After years of being content as an unemployed wife, dependent on her husband for any money, she had a sudden change of heart which inspired the creation of her current empire.

With no business experience, reaching her goal was no easy feat.  Debbi was faced with many challenges along the way including the fact that she had no money, and no bank was willing to invest in a business centered around a cookie recipe.  Through sheer persistence, she was finally able to get the necessary loan to open a bakeshop and store located in Palo Alto, CA.  Twenty years later she was able to expand Mrs. Field’s to a multimillion dollar company.  As the company continued to expand, Debbi took advantage of new technologies to keep operations organized and efficient.  Throughout her time as an entrepreneur, she has worked to keep her business organized so that its growth came smoothly and she has been able to successfully oversee all parts of the company.

Debbi Fields is an excellent example of someone who reached a crossroad in her life and made a conscious decision to change the direction in which she was heading.  While the path she chose was not easy, and she struggled to start her business, she ultimately succeeded beyond even her wildest dreams.  Looking at her story, there are many lessons that can be learned from the way she coped with the difficulties faced in starting a business from scratch.  In an interview she preached, “Good enough never is.”  She always keeps an open mind about making adjustments and innovations to improve. This attitude aided her success as she always seeks ways to improve not just her life, but her business.  She never “settles” and this is an invaluable trait that helps her keep her company relevant and successful.  A lot can be learned from the face of chocolate chip cookies.


MaryEllen Caruso

Tufts University


Further Reading:

To read more about other women who have overcome big challenges go to

The Importance of Taking a Break


German joblessness unexpectedly dropped in June and the unemployment rate remained close to its lowest level since reunification more than two decades ago, underscoring the strength of the domestic economy. 1 Today Germany’s unemployment rate of 5.4% (using OECD figures) is one of the lowest in Europe. Youth unemployment, below 8%, is half that in America and a third of the European average.2 Germany currently has the continent’s largest economy and the fourth largest economy in the world. 3

It’s safe to say that Germany is an economic powerhouse and yet, Germans get an average of 34 paid vacation days per year. 4 Some argue that paid vacation days don’t in fact lead to higher productivity 5 and of course, we cannot extrapolate that Germany’s economic success is a consequence of its ample amount of paid vacation days. However, many argue that paid vacation days play an integral role in establishing a better quality of life and work-life balance.

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, tells the following story in her book Lean In where she references one of her first bosses, Larry Kanarek:  One day, Larry gathered everyone for a talk. He explained that since he was running the office, employees came to him when they want to quit. Over time, he noticed that people quit for one reason only: they were burnt out, tired of working long hours and traveling. Larry said he could understand the complaint, but what he couldn’t understand was that all the people who quit-every single one- had unused vacation time. 7

And he wasn’t alone in this observation: according to a 2010 Reuters/Ipsos Poll, “only 57 percent of U.S. workers take all the vacation days they are due.6 Sandberg also references a 2012 survey of employed adults that showed that 80 percent of the respondents continued to work after leaving the office, 38 percent checked e-mail at the dinner table, and 69 percent can’t go to bed without checking their in-box.” 7

Some researchers are concerned that our unrelenting strive to succeed may be impacting our psychological well being. Researcher Sabine Sonnentag of the University of Konstanz in Germany is concerned about our ‘inability to detach’ and has found that those who detach from work on a regular basis have a lower level of emotional exhaustion and higher life satisfaction.9 Work-life balance is being discussed more and more now in the US, facilitated in large part by the burgeoning field of positive psychology. Sonnentag also concedes that different people may require variant levels of detachment and that for some, “taking a Friday night family break from all electronics” would be a sufficient and important way to guard against burnout.8 This is particularly pertinent to the new generation of ambitious and driven Americans who are looking to be successful in demanding and high-stress jobs.

I chose to spend this past summer vacation working in Germany. I was reminded that travel engenders something even more valuable; cognizance. Travel fosters not only a deeper sense and understanding of the inner-workings of another culture, but also of our own. The experiences gained and the observations made, cultivate self-reflection and assessment. What do they have, that we don’t have? What do they do, that we don’t do? (And of course, the antithesis as well; what do we have that they don´t have?). Travel allows for cross-cultural and idea exchange that has the potential to improve all nations involved. As the world becomes ever more interconnected, travel and cross-cultural exchange will become increasingly important. And it’s also important to remember that exposure and openness to new ideas will ultimately allow us to grow and develop as individuals and, consequently, as a country.

Lara Tromba

Johns Hopkins University

Further Readings:

7. Sandberg, Sheryl. “The Myth of Doing It All.” Lean in: women, work, and the will to lead. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. 125-131. Print.

Girls in Government – How Running for Office is Similar to Getting Ahead in the Business World


I think most people can agree that those who succeed in the business are driven individuals with a passion for what they are doing. But what happens when determination and a commitment to your aspirations aren’t enough?

Instead of pointing to a female trying to succeed in business, let’s look at openly lesbian, former New York City mayoral candidate with a tough, go-getter personality: Christine Quinn. Going into the race, Quinn knew gender and sexuality would play a part in her campaign but believed her platform could outshine them. As she told The New York Times, “I don’t get up in the morning thinking about how I’ll approach this as a woman or a lesbian; I think about the issues.” As admirable as this statement may be, those in her inner circle criticized her naïve attitude. Quinn was running for office in a city known for its progressive mindset and liberal attitudes that is known for championing strong women like Eleanor Roosevelt and Anna Wintour. Yet Quinn’s advisors knew voters would have difficulty embracing a woman candidate, let alone one who could become New York’s first openly gay mayor. Why?

Just like Hillary Clinton in the presidential election in 2008, Quinn received criticism on her appearance – disapproval males rarely ever receive. Quinn attempted to downplay her gender as much as possible while emphasizing her ability to get things done. It was only after her dramatic fall in the polls did she make gender an issue in a last minute plea. But it didn’t work. Exit polls showed Democratic women voted for her opponent Bill de Blasio more than two to one. Ester Fuchs, a professor at Columbia University, said “part of the problem is that…women are almost never vote as a bloc in city races, in which issues like abortion figure very little.” Fuchs also pointed to a lack of a powerful ethnic affiliation left Quinn without a base. Gloria Steinem, a support of Quinn, added “If you’re tough enough to run New York City, you’re too tough to be considered acceptably feminine.”

So how does this tie to business? Running for political office is very different from advancing in a corporation. But there’s a similar message. Women can’t always rely on other women for support in obtaining career goals. Moreover, women are held to different standards. Unlike men, their appearances actually play a role in how they are viewed by others. Quinn’s strong demeanor, while an asset to working in government, ultimately lost her support among voters.

While women still have many obstacles to overcome in pursuing larger goals in the business and political realms, Quinn’s run for office ultimately created hope for the future. Standing in front supporters at her post-primary election party, she said, “This may not be the outcome you wanted, but there’s a young girl out there who was inspired by the thought of New York’s first woman mayor.”

Related article:

Stephanie Ostroff

Washington University in St. Louis

Golf and Business – Why Golfers Get Ahead

Every year, the Rutgers University Women’s Business Leadership Initiative (WBLI) hosts an end-of-the-year golf outing that takes place on Rutgers’s very own golf course. This year, I was able to attend this outing and get to hear the manager of the golf course, Jill Jerauld, speak.

Jill Jerauld is a golf professional and manager of the Rutgers University Golf Course. An interesting fact about Jill is that she is the only female Professional Golf Association (PGA) member and head golf professional in New Jersey. When asked why she embarked on a five-year process in pursuit of membership in the PGA instead of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, Jill stated that she felt it would increase job prospects. She also went on to talk about her experiences as a female leader in a male dominated industry, and stated that as a woman, she needed to work twice as hard as her male peers to get noticed and even harder to maintain respect and a level of authority. Jill did this with her unique style of leadership, inspiring others to feel and believe that they are an instrumental part in the successes of the team and have valuable contributions, no matter what role they play.

For me, it was very empowering to hear Jill speak about her experiences and what she was able to accomplish with passion and dedication. Jill Jerauld is a female leader running an entire golf course and facility, and for that, I have a lot of respect and admiration for Jill. Having never been on a golf course before or had first-hand experience with it, golf to me was just a leisurely sport or one that professionals like Tiger Woods played. After some de-mything from Jill, however, I learned this is quite far from the truth. Not only did her story inspire me to try a new and surprisingly stress relieving sport for the first time, but I got to take away a few tidbits of useful information about golf and how it affects business.

  1. 80% of business deals are made on the golf court.
  2. Golf is a life-time sport, meaning people of any age, young or old, can play.

After further research, I came across the article “Why Golfers Get Ahead” on The Economist which shares a few interesting concepts about golf and corroborates Jill’s information session on golf. Despite the humorous picture of “businesspeople who plot fraudulent deals between shots”, business and golf are completely different in actuality. Modern golf is a precision club and ball sport which, in 1457 in the first written record of golf, James II banned, declaring it as an unwelcomed distraction to learning archery. Today, modern golf is also a form of corporate entertainment with many useful perks to men and women in business. The article goes on to list why golfers in business get ahead, listing not giving the 65-year-old boss of the company you are trying to make a business deal with a heart attack and using golf as a test of character among the top reasons.

Golf is a useful skill and important networking tool to have in the business world – after all, you never know what doors it could open. In addition to its practicalities, golf is a great stress reliever. Unlike contact sports like football or games that require running like tennis, golf is more leisurely and relaxing. There is no huge expenditure of energy because golf is a precision sport, and watching that tiny white ball soar through the sky can be surprising satisfying. However, one of the downsides of playing golf seriously is that it can get a tad expensive, as it requires necessary golf equipment and suitable fashion. However, playing golf, like most things in life, should be looked at as an investment that hopefully supplies a large return. As sport and tool in business, golf is an investment that I highly recommend and believe that more women in the business world and in general should partake in.

Catherine He

Rutgers University – New Brunswick

Related Article:

Music to My Ears


            I love music. When I’m not going to class or doing homework, you can always find me on my laptop with my headphones on, jamming out to my favorite beats. Being a good student is my primary job, but I like to think that looking for good music is my secondary job. I’m constantly on various social media websites, tracking my favorite artists to see who’s going to be around town. The thing is, my parents often disapprove of these concerts and shows that I love attending so much. “Why do you go to these shows?” they ask. “They are a waste of time and money. You should focus more on your schoolwork.”  The way my parents see it, work and leisure are two separate entities that are mutually exclusive. There’s no way my music could relate to my studies, right?

            Wrong. And who better than Julie Greenwald, Chairman and CEO of Atlantic Records to prove it. Greenwald is the perfect example of a powerful and successful businesswoman who climbed her way to the top of the music industry.

            Greenwald started at the bottom of the food chain. Her first job in the music business was as a personal assistant (aka chief coffee fetcher) for Lyor Cohen, head of the hip-hop lable Def Jam Records. Her desk was nothing more than the arm of her boss’ couch, who would give her crazy, impossible tasks to do. But she went in unafraid of voicing her opinion and throwing out ideas, which Cohen took note of and started to delegate her more leadership roles. Her first leadership role was as the manager of the promotions department, where she proved herself by being the first one in the office and the last one to leave everyday, outworking everyone. Cohen started handing her more departments to manage, and before she knew it, he had handed her every department in Def Jam.

            However, even as she moved up in the food chain, there were still certain setbacks that Greenwald as a woman had to face. The male executives, for example, often went out on golf outings, and she didn’t know how to play. It didn’t matter how much respect she was commanding in the office, if she couldn’t be engage in the social bonding extra-curricular activities that made executives tighter, she was at a disadvantage.  But she didn’t whine, she fixed the problem. Greenwald suggested that they go play basketball or skiing instead; activities that she liked and knew Cohen loved to do as well. And just like that, she was back in the game.

            Now Greenwald is the head of Atlantic Records, which surpassed Warner Bros. in 2007 as the largest music label based on U.S. market share. It has upheld that status since then, accounting for 6.7% of U.S. recorded-music sales. Greenwald herself has topped Billboard’s annual Women in Music ranking since 2010. Her team credits her for creating a work environment where people can voice their opinions and take risks. 

            Greenwald is a role model for me not just because she is at the top of the music industry, but because of how she got there. She pushed past boundaries set in a male-dominated business by introducing innovative ideas and outworking her counterparts.  Knowing her story is, in a sense, music to my ears; it restores my faith in my love of both music and business. Through hard work and perseverance my hope is to be able to merge these two passions into a career that I can be proud of. 

Jessie Xu

University of Maryland       

Related Articles:




Beyoncé Knowles and Other Reasons Why Women Are Better Than Men

Who Run The World? Girls.


It’s senior year, and we need furniture for our apartments. What does that mean? Taking a trip to IKEA to buy the cheapest livable furniture of course!

ROAD-TRIPPPP. Nicole and I stroll to IKEA in her little sports car.

I’ve never really been in one of these places before, I’ve only read about it and dreamt it up in my head from an HBS case I had to read once upon a time, but according to my guy friends it’s all the rave.

After 45 minutes, we finally arrive. We go through the motions – bathroom, maze, cinnamon buns, and creating a checklist of what to get. The whole time, itching to leave. Girls don’t build furniture anyways…

Down a large flight of metal steps, we stand in this unexpectedly long line and wait to get all the pieces. At the front of the queue, we obtain a cart that looks like something you use to push cinderblocks from Home Depot on. You have got to be kidding me.

So here we are, two petite girls, dragging what felt like a 70-pound dead carcass across gravel. Whatever, we’ll deal.. Except for the fact that this place is an ABSOLUTE animal house. Holy hell.

In multiple near death experiences, we manage to avoid getting our toes dismembered by shoppers who clearly have their eyes taped to the sides of their legs. The boxes we need are large and heavy. Everyone is exceptionally assertive and competitive – trying to get to boxes and aisles before you do. I felt like I was a contestant in Supermarket Sweep. (For those of you who aren’t as knowledgeable about TV entertainment, it’s basically a show where people voluntarily run each other over in an effort to fill their shopping carts with the most expensive items in the store).

In a surprising turn of events, we make it out alive and drive home with an empty car because we figured we would much rather have home delivery than broken backs from lifting heavy plywood that was supposed to somehow magically turn into a pretty nightstand.

Yay! What a productive day! Froyo to celebrate and hugs all around. Let the feel good music blast, girlfriend, because we aren’t sleeping on air mattresses on the floor much longer.

Fast forward. “Run the World” by Beyoncé starts playing, and it kind of got me thinking about how, as women, we rely on men too often. Carrying our boxes? Home delivery? A handy man to come ring my doorbell and assemble the furniture? And here we are blasting music about how women essentially rule the world. #noshame.

One verse really stuck out to me. It goes like this: “Boy you know you love it how we’re smart enough to make these millions, strong enough to bear the children then get back to business.”

All jokes aside, this post isn’t just about some silly sorority girls going on a furniture spree with daddy’s credit card and being too weak and delicate because of our manicured nails. It’s really about how there are so many stereotypes out there that hinder women from reaching their full potential.

Sure women don’t tend to be handymen, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of assembling furniture or should think we need to rely on any man to do it for us– that would just be lazy.

And sure, men are genetically built to be physically stronger than women, but that doesn’t mean our backs will break carrying boxes from a cart to the trunk of a car. (We have mouths and manners to ask men to do that favor for us silly! Totally kidding, of course.)

Point is, there are so many strong and inspirational women who have a meaningful outlook on what female leaders have and are able to accomplish, even while taking into account the maternal role many women choose to take at some point in their lives. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook exemplifies this flawlessly.

I recently picked up Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, where she shares her insight on female leadership and how she became Facebook’s COO after working for companies such as the World Bank, McKinsey, and Google.

The entire book encompasses the idea of women letting go of their inhibitions and insecurities and putting their best foot forward, regardless of any diffidence. In many situations, Sandberg explains that the things that ultimately deter women from stepping up and rising to positions of power are really things that they create in their own minds about what people will think of them – stereotypes. Sandberg sends a strong message to young women who want to successfully balance a professional career as well as have a family. The key to doing what you want to do is having full confidence in your abilities and lacking self-doubt. There are hundreds of biases that people hold in the workplace about the capabilities of a woman compared to that of a man, but in this day and age, it is totally taboo.

Why do I say this? If Sheryl Sandberg is not a good enough example, simply look at other industries whose influential figures are women –fashion industry’s Anna Wintour, Pepsi’s CEO Indra Nooyi, philanthropist Oprah Winfrey, and how could we forget, singer and actress Beyoncé Knowles (who is ranked 17th on “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” by Forbes)

Regardless of your goals and ambitions in life, just remember that without women, the world would not exist, and although stereotypes and preconceptions still exist, we don’t have to let them discourage us from being the cream of the crop.

We are fully capable of sitting at the round table with the boys.

There are reasons why queens ruled the world in the Medieval Ages and still rule some countries, why queen bees dominate the beehive, and why workplaces with more female leaders achieve lower turnover rates, increased market shares in the consumer markets, and higher levels of innovation. Whatever the proof you need, it is certain that women are living in an era that is becoming more conducive to high productivity and maintaining positions of power while balancing family life.

At the end of the day, whether you choose to get your furniture assembled or not, just remember that IKEA was meant for DIY’s – that means you do not need to rely on any man to get the job done.


Elizabeth Nguyen

Brandeis University


Leadership and Being Yourself


In my previous blog post I mentioned the yearly award and list of “Future Female Leader of the Year”, presented by Sweden’s organisation for managers, Ledarna. I would in this blog post like to continue on the theme and present the winner of the award Future Female Leader of the Year 2013: Susanne Holmström. She is the Head of Customer Operations Sweden at Tele2, a major European telecommunications operator.

I wanted to introduce her to you and at the same time highlight a different aspect of the concept “fork in the road”. In an interview upon receiving the award, Susanne Holmström explains that she never has had a clear goal for her career, but has instead answered “yes” to the opportunities she has faced. By thus being faced with new situations, she has during her career realized the importance of being yourself and not pretending to be something you are not.

In her first job as a leader, she adopted the style of her previous bosses who used a very aggressive approach to leadership, with loud voice and fist on the table. She did this in order to not be seen as unfitting for the role.  She realized soon that the role as an aggressive boss is not who she is as a leader. Instead she believes in making decisions together, and seeing that all employees understand the matter and what is going on.

So the “fork in the road” that Susanne Holmström was faced with was not one of career choice, but instead she found the courage to be herself. I found her story very interesting because there has been a lot of talk about the leadership style differences between male and female leaders.

The interview with Susanne Holmström really inspired me because it shows that you do not have to have a clear goal from the beginning in order to reach a leadership position in your career. If you take chances and are not afraid to try new things, you will eventually find something you are good at and enjoy doing which will help you climb the career ladder.



Joanna Malmqvist

Karolinska Institutet

Our Worst Enemy is Ourselves


“Despite high education levels among women entrepreneurs, and higher levels than men, women in Europe and the U.S. are much less likely to believe they have the capabilities for entrepreneurship compared to men in their economies and women in other regions”(GEM 2012 Report, 11). Why is this the case? After analyzing the findings in the 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2012 Women’s report, I was forced to question why educated women seem to hinder their own entrepreneurial success by unintentionally creating additional barriers? In 2012, GEM surveyed approximately 198,000 women entrepreneurs from 69 countries out of an estimated 126 million self-started businesswomen around the world. The results were astounding: women entrepreneurs reportedly exhibited a greater fear of failure when compared to their male counterparts. Below, I have identified three main concepts that broadly cover circumstances that may cause women entrepreneurs to hamper their own future success.

I Am My Own Boss

  • Due to lack of funding and the need to be in control of all business operations, women are more likely than men to operate without employees.
  • Men have a stronger network of entrepreneurs than women; usually, women need to be encouraged to network and establish connections with key individuals who can provide advice and resources.

Play It Safe

  • In general, women do not have a desire to expand globally due to a strong local mentality
  • Women appear to show reluctance to scale their business ultimately, deterring investors
  • Well-educated women may be running low potential businesses; they are hesitant to enter into new and less tested markets

Barriers Stop Me, Therefore I Stop Myself

  • In general, societal barriers, gender role barriers, cultural barriers, environmental barriers and psychological barriers stifle women entrepreneurs


After analyzing the data, women entrepreneurs seem to lack the ambition and drive needed to be successful entrepreneurs. Although they are more educated than men, their overly cautious approach to business prevents them from succeeding in a high-risk environment. Women are holding themselves back by not asking for help and insisting on doing everything on their own. In spite of these statistics, women’s entrepreneurship is expanding in developing countries. For example, 40% of women in Zambia are engaged in entrepreneurial activities. About 73% of women in Sub-Saharan Africa believe they have entrepreneurial capabilities while only 16% of Asian women believe in their capabilities. Also, entrepreneurship is growing in the U.S. at twice the average rate of other developed countries. As women around the world pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors, we need to step out of our comfort zone and begin taking risks, seeking advice and assistance when necessary and having faith in our capabilities.

Full Report: 2012 Womens Report.pdf


Ashley Murdock

Georgetown University