Happy International Women’s Day! Today is the day we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the globe.
At Taboola, we recognize what the world wants to discover—the strong women that are pushing us towards a more equal future. Not just who they are, but also how they got to where they are today.
This year, we’re celebrating by sharing some inspiring insights from several of the female leaders that we’re proud to work alongside everyday. We asked them to share a bit about their success, and to provide advice to the younger generation.
We asked, they answered:
- What is the number one characteristic, value or skill that got you to where you are today?
- If you had one piece of advance for young women in your field, what would it be?
From engineering to sales, law, human resources and more, here’s what some of Taboola’s fierce female leaders had to say.
Taboolars Inspire on International Women’s Day
Amy Mbagwu, Head of Video and Brand Advertising Sales, North America
“What has guided me in life and in my career in sales has been this concept of being a “door knocker.” It can certainly be a metaphor for sales activity, but It also means being curious and asking questions (knocking) in order to know the ‘why’ behind everything. I’ve found that doing that in business and in my personal life has helped me anticipate, plan ahead and know how to appropriately respond to challenges and opportunities. Don’t suppress your voice or be afraid to pull up to the table and ask the hard questions—you and those in your orbit will grow and be better for it.
Having a strong sense of EQ (emotional intelligence) has also served me well. Being smart is important, but that alone is not enough, you need to also understand what’s happening around you, the context—time, place and people. Having that type of awareness and understanding people’s motivations is core to building relationships, networks and business.
My one piece of advice is to be authentic to who you are. You’ll find that if you can bring your true self and point of view to any conversation, environment or meeting, you will establish more credibility, have more confidence and connect with people on a much deeper level. It’s hard to do these things when you are trying to be someone else.
For those early on in their career and younger women in particular who are still developing their professional identities, it can be easy to second guess your inner voice and think that adopting someone else’s persona is the best way to advance. That is just not true, you will spend more time and focus ‘keeping up an act,’ and ultimately less time being effective, connecting and getting the real work done.”
Bar Cohen, Head of SMB Publisher Sales and Director of Utility supply, APAC
“Courage, a strong mindset, resilience, determination and some analytical skills got me where I am today. I am always determined to take dares and to push any ideas that I truly believe in. In order to do this, I’ve always had to come prepared. This is where analytical skills come in—I need to be able to back my ideas with facts, numbers, and most importantly, a strategic plan. Once the plan is completed, that’s the time to speak out (as loud as possible), convince others of my ideas’ values and ultimately, sell my ideas.
Resilience plays such a big part in the game. Even when I’m wrong, I keep trying. Mistakes always have come with the most valuable experiences that have helped me improve.
For other women out there, my message is to be fearless. You have to know yourself, and more importantly, believe in yourself and the unlimited potential that comes with you. Explore your potential! Find out what you’re good at and what you love to do. Find the passion that makes your career journey worthwhile.
But with your strengths, you must also know your weaknesses. Unlimited potential comes from willingness to learn. Consistently seek what’s important to you, and do your best to learn from it.
If you truly believe in something, create a plan and sell your idea. Don’t be shy; speak up!
Lastly, you do not have to be loved by everyone. No one can define who you are but you! Not everyone will support your ideas and what you do and that’s totally OK! That’s exactly where determination kicks in. If you truly believe in your mission be confident and push through, the journey will definitely payoff and you will learn so much.”
Cait Rose, Director of Media Accounts, Global & SMB
“Success isn’t about being perfect all the time. Mistakes are natural, and the minute I started to get more comfortable being uncomfortable, I began to see a real difference in how I approached the business. Never substitute working smart for working hard. You need to do both to move forward in your career. Growing your career happens before 9am and after 6pm.
I never let being a woman stand in the way of the career I wanted. Surround yourself with strong people that inspire you and challenge you, and one day you will find yourself being that woman and doing just that for the next generation.
Success and confidence doesn’t happen overnight, so be patient. One day you will look back and realize you are exactly where you want to be and shortly after you recognize that moment exists, find out what to challenge yourself with next.”
Gomti Shankar, Country Manager, India
“I’ve always put a lot of emphasis on being present in the moment—with full energy and passion. Both your work life and your personal life are made up of interactions with colleagues, friends and family. When we approach every interaction with energy, we make true connections. Connecting with people is necessary to create an impact as a leader—this is true in all aspects of life. All the roles we play, whether at work or home are made up of human interactions. It’s the little things you do everyday with energy and passion that will make you win.
One piece of advice that I have for young women is to believe in yourself—believing is half way to winning. In India, many times in my early career in sales, I was the only woman in the room alongside male colleagues.That inspired me to be even better because I was sure that I was there because I deserved to be. Never doubt in your abilities. Believing in yourself gives you the determination to succeed.”
Hili David, Country Manager, China
“I think that the characteristic that has gotten me so far is my ability to work hard. Ever since I can remember, in every job I’ve had, I worked the hardest I could in order to reach the best results. I never gave myself any shortcuts and always pushed myself. It’s not just about getting the job—if you don’t work hard and push yourself for your own best results, you won’t be able to keep it.
My advice to young women is to believe in yourself, There is nothing you can’t do. Women are strong and smart, and we can do everything we would put our minds to. If you believe in yourself and your abilities there is nothing you can’t do.”
Nattacha Prianan, Country Manager, Thailand
“I would say being optimistic has gotten me far. I always think that everything happens for a reason and that it leads to a better path. No matter how hard the situation might be, you can always learn or gain something from it.
Be confident and just go for it! Don’t be afraid!”
Neomi Farkas, VP of Human Resources
“I got to where I am today by knowing the value I bring to the table. Different people have different perceptions of HR and for some, the value isn’t clear. I don’t allow myself to be impacted by that. I know my value and the value of the HR function, and I will always try to communicate that.I don’t let the opinions of others define me. Of course, if more people tune me out than hear me—I need to think about why I’m not getting through.
I also know that being wrong doesn’t detract from that value. Just like an engineer who writes a faulty piece of code is still valuable, so am I, and so are you. Be right more often than you’re wrong, but if I you hold yourself up to an impossible standard, you’ll be standing in your own way. I hate to be wrong, but I know that I will be, and when it happens—I’m quick to admit it and move on.
For young women looking to enter HR, know that it’s about knowing people. The right people for this profession don’t only love people, they get them, and they can read into their situation. That’s not a skill everyone has and it’s the one you need to cultivate. I believe that is how HR adds unique value to organizational decisions—by understanding what’s important to employees and trying to assess how much they’ll like or dislike an upcoming change.”
Nikita Olsen, Director, Media Account Management APAC
“I’ve always believed that the only stupid question is the question that is never asked. This has shaped the way I approach my day to day—be prepared, do the homework you need to do in order to handle any curve ball that comes your way and always ask questions to make sure you fully understand the situation and what’s required of you.
Be confident in your decisions and don’t be afraid to own up to your mistakes. As long as you’re learning from them, you’re growing both personally and professionally.”
Ora Egozi Barzilai, Director of Publisher Solutions R&D
“I think my most helpful characteristic is that I TRULY like receiving feedback—I feel wiser after a good feedback session. I have heard many leaders talk about how important it is to be open to feedback, but it’s easier to “talk the talk” than “walk the walk.”
Ever since I was a kid I remember seeking candid feedback on what I did well and what I didn’t do well and it’s helped me a lot. For example, I luckily found out early in my childhood (thanks mom) that I am a terrible singer and piano player, but great in math and science. This helped me not only in making career decisions, but also in overcoming imposter syndrome and in helping others become better managers.
My advice for young women is to be curious! For me curiosity means a few things. One, ask questions. Don’t be shy. You are not stupid. I wish someone had told me this twice a day when I was younger, and maybe still even today.
Two, read blogs and books. Listen to podcasts. Watch videos on whatever interests you—it’s not as hard as you think to make 30 minutes every day for this.
Finally, three, use curiosity for receiving feedback in a better way. If someone tells you’re wrong or doesn’t agree with your opinion, don’t be insulted or mad, instead be curious about why. It might end up being a good lesson for you in understanding how you’re perceived.”
Pilar Valcarcel, Country Manager, Spain and Portugal
“My most helpful characteristic is passion. I am passionate about what I do and I always care about the projects I am involved in. I work with passion and happiness because attitude is everything and emotional intelligence is a key value of mine. I strive to be an optimistic hard
I highly recommend that young women find and work with passion and enthusiasm. Be really motivated and consider your job as something unique to you. You have to love what you do to be successful. Passion and motivation are the key values.”
Seraphina Davey, Country Manager, Russia/CIS and Poland
“What’s the worst that can happen? Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of humiliation—they all prevent us from taking risks, but how “risky” is that job interview? Or speaking at that conference? Or asking for that pay rise? What does total disaster look like? Is it really that bad?
When you feel anxious about doing something, or are putting something off, just ask: ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ Answer it out loud if necessary, imagine yourself handling the fallout, and think: ‘how bad is this really? What will it mean to me if the worst possible thing happens?’ Where fear is unarticulated and unquantified, it will hold you back. Identify it, acknowledge it, and it won’t seem so bad.
Shelly Paioff, VP of Legal Affairs
“I became successful by being business-minded. It is easy for lawyers to explain the risk to their clients and to advise against taking the risk—the hard part is getting to ‘yes.’ Saying yes requires strategic thinking and having a clear understanding of the business and its needs and goals. This has enabled me to become a true business partner and to provide pragmatic, business-minded legal advice.
To the younger generation—know that Determination and enthusiasm go a long way—as does resilience and confidence in your own abilities. Have confidence in your intuition and your skills—you got to where you are for a reason. Also, ask for feedback without taking it personally and take any feedback seriously by acting on it.”
Tatjana Biallas, Country Manager, DACH
“Being Persistent and having a clear goal has gotten me where I am today. From the age of 16 or 17, I’ve had the dream to run a business. My goal is to be the CEO of a company one day. In every role I have, I try to perform and go the extra mile for my dream. I don’t just work for a company—every day I work to get a step closer to my personal goal.
My advice to young women is to find your passion. Try a lot of things until you know what that passion is, and then totally go for it. Believe in yourself and don’t listen to people who tell you that you can’t achieve it. I believe if you truly want something you will be able to get it.”
Women, Don’t be Afraid.
As I listened to the advice of the women leaders around me in preparation for writing this post, one thing stuck out to me above all others—don’t be afraid.
Ask questions. Be curious. Follow your passion, and more. These responses all support that message.
Here at Taboola, we’re proud to work alongside such fearless and strong women as we strive to help others discover their own interests, awake their own curiosity and to support the distribution of valuable content everywhere.
Happy International Women’s Day!