There's (unfortunately) not many women in Silicon Valley who sit toe to toe with the CEO in the boardroom and control the company checkbooks. Kim Jabal is a trailblazer for female CFOs in tech with a background at Google, Path and now as CFO for website and eCommerce platform, Weebly. Did we mention she's also a single mother of two boys? Here's 10 tips from Kim Jabal, who appears to be juggling it all.
1. When considering new career opportunities, she looks not just at the company and the role, but at the boss
My two best mentors over my career were also my bosses. When you are choosing a job you are often also choosing a mentor. Seek opportunities in a company where you have the opportunity to work for someone who is experienced, a great manager, and willing to teach and mentor. Spend enough time with that person while interviewing to feel confident that you can develop a great working relationship
2. She has young children and a busy life outside of work.
There have been many times during my career where work became all-encompassing for brief periods of time. But in general, I’ve always made time for friends, family, and fun. And sometimes this has meant that I deliberately chose companies where I knew this “balance” would be encouraged and not uncommon. I love working with people who are well-rounded and have many interests outside of work.
3. She lets herself off the hook
The key to work-life balance is to let yourself off the hook on at least some things. For example, I prioritize family dinner with the kids. I am almost always there unless there is a legitimate need to stay in the office. And I prioritize time with the kids on the weekends. However, I absolutely never volunteer for field trips or the carpool lane and I don't usually make it to routine doctor appointments (having help at home is key to making all of this work). My kids often eat cereal for breakfast and that's ok. I rarely throw parties. On the flip side, at work, I have finally realized that I will never get to the bottom of my email inbox so I've started to let myself off the hook just a little bit. I've “trained” my colleagues to call/text if anything is time sensitive as I'm not checking my email inbox all week-end. I have refined (although not perfected) the art of focusing on the most important/impactful activities versus the most urgent, and of being more proactive vs reactive.
4. She was the lone female software engineer at her first job
My first job out of college as a software engineer gave me valuable technical and managerial skills...and taught me how to be successful as a woman in a male dominated field. In my mid twenties I had to manage a group of all white, older men at a copper mining company. They were not thrilled with my presence so it was a very intimidating and challenging experience. But in the end, I won their trust and our efforts were a success and it really built up my confidence as a manager. A few years later I had a similar experience while working at an oil and gas company in Argentina - same challenges, but with a language barrier as well. Successfully making my way through a workplace with virtually no gender diversity built up my confidence and inspired me to pursue business school and to transition into a career in finance.
5. She’s not afraid to date
Just because you have a demanding job and kids that you love, you don't have to put your personal life on the shelf. It's important to me to make time to hang out with friends, date, meet people, and talk about something other than my job or my kids. You can and should make the time - in the stories jar of rocks, pebbles, and sand, it's at least one of the pebbles if not a rock!
6. She loves traveling for work
I love traveling and exploring new places, experiencing new cultures. I particularly love to travel for work because you have the opportunity to interact with people in a way that you wouldn’t be able to as a tourist. You get to know people in the office and you learn a little bit about how they live their lives. When I’m traveling solo, I will always find a restaurant for dinner on Yelp and eat at the bar. It’s a great way to meet people and learn more about the place I am visiting. And determine if the city has good food or not!
7. She loves food and wine but prioritizes healthy eating
Eating and drinking are two of my favorite pastimes without a doubt. But I try to eat sensibly and drink in moderation whenever I can. Michael Pollan says, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.". This is pretty much my rule of thumb. I eat the same thing for lunch every day at work - a huge arugula/kale salad with black beans, avocado, carrots, cucumbers, and nuts. I try not to eat many sweets because I find them so addictive! I don’t keep any junk food in the house (to the dismay of my children) and I generally try to eat 3 good meals plus an afternoon snack but nothing after dinner except maybe a glass of wine.
8. She bikes to and from work every day
Finding time to hit the gym or a SoulCycle class is usually hard to fit into my schedule. But, fitness is very important to me. So I’ve incorporated exercise into my daily routine. I bike to and from the train every day during the week and on weekends I walk the SF hills or hike the Santa Cruz mountains. I also love boogie boarding and mountain biking and skiing with my kids. In general, I am pretty disciplined and make sure that I get 30-45 minutes of movement every day. My rule of thumb is “low bar but high frequency”.
9. She’s on the board of FedEx and Change 2 Mind
Serving on outside boards has been an amazing experience for me. I find that I learn things on the boards that I can bring back to my core job and vise-versa. I love the contrast between my exciting young tech company and a world class public company like FedEx. Meanwhile, Bring Change 2 Mind is focused on reducing the stigma of mental illness. I lost my brother to suicide so this cause is important to me and the board gives me the opportunity to make a small contribution to the effort.
10. Her favorite female leader is Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin (Veuve Cliquot)
One of my favorite female leaders is Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, otherwise known as Veuve Cliquot. This is a woman who, born in 1777, eagerly took the reins of a sizeable business conglomerate after losing her husband at age 27. She focused the business on champagne production, invented the riddling process which is still used today, and created one of the best known champagne brands at a time when marketing and branding barely even existed as a concept in the industry.
I am just amazed by people who lead and achieve great things against all odds.
Courtesy of Pursuitist.com
Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.
A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.
The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.
Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")
The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."
This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.
Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.
She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."
Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.
"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei
While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.
Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.
The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."
This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.
Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.