Jill Bausch is a person who charms you with her big smile and natural warmth as you as soon as see her. And then you become aware of her impressive experience and enormous insight into the corporate world and all the dynamics and complexities of it.
WiL club was honoured to have her as a guest on our campus, speaking to 30 of our club members. Also present in the audience were prospective students, for whom this was an opportunity to learn more about HEC MBA program and activities that we organize.
The evening was opened by Pierrette Doz-Perdrix, oficially development manager for HEC MBA and unofficially WiL club’s guardian angel. She gave us an overview of activities that HEC is involved in to improve the gender equality within HEC. Following from there Nela Banovic, WiL’s club president, took the opportunity to share upcoming events with everyone present, notably the negotiating workshop and “women in consulting” forum.
Once introduced, Jill shared her amazing career journey. She started off by telling us about her fashion design undergraduate degree. From there she talked about being immerged in marketing for major luxury hotel chains…and then about her career switch to social marketing though the British public service. In 1996, she joined Futures Group Europe, a major health consultancy firm, as CEO, where she stayed for 9 years. Finally, she has found her life calling and is now an executive coach, with a special interest in coaching women. Jill also works in executive searching, thus is very familiar with the recruitment processes, a very popular topic among the MBAs.
After the initial outline of Jill’s career, the discussion took the form of a question and answer panel, mediated by Nela.
Jill was very generous in sharing more of her experiences, often on a more personal level. Her examples were underpinned with the human side of things – about falling in love and moving countries, about having kids and balancing it with high responsibility jobs, about having to go back to school to prove her worth through credentials, about moving countries with family and the challenges that poses, about harassment at work.
The initial questions aimed to clarify what employers are looking for in the next generation of leaders, and how one can position herself to fit the bill. The discussion moved from the recruitment focus to managing one’s own career, career switching and managing perception within the company. At the end, we focused on the differences that males and females experience within the corporate environment and how these could be managed.
Jill is a coach at heart as she managed to get so many of us involved in the discussion and really create an atmosphere of an exchange and open dialogue. Her immense experience, both in terms of responsibility as well as the multicultural aspects of working in more than 30 countries, was a goldmine of relevant examples. The one that will stay with me is when she told us about working as a CEO, having 5 kids at home and realizing that she needed to go back to school in order to earn respect in a very academic environment. All that with the huge smile on her her face and not a hint of defeatism. Can someone say a “superwoman”?!
After we finished our panel discussion, we had a cocktail organized in the MBA building where we continued to discuss and share in a more informal fashion…where I heard a number of fascinating stories (you had to be there!).
We want to use this medium to thank Jill for flying in from Nice to see us and share a wonderful evening with us. You are a real role model.
Nela Banovic and Gloria Bradbury
Comments from the attendees:
“It was a truly memorable experience to met with someone who balanced her life so well. Jill is not only a woman of substance that is well-grounded and pragmatic, but professionally has also switched a lot of fields in her career and could also give us her point of view on this matter. Her advice to us came from personal experiences and she was bold enough to share them with us, thereby giving us better perspective in dealing with real-life day to day situations.”
“I thought that the discussion was encouraging and insightful; nuances about the realities we face as professional women. It was a good forum where everyone openly spoke about their discomforts and insecurities… in a course like MBA where we are at all times competing as equals it makes sense. “ Rahat Qazi
“I really liked the way questions were prepared and how Nela has passed them over to Jill, I think that was a good way to keep the audience engaged. I think it was a very useful workshop for getting points on how to apply, not necessarily to CEO jobs, but to higher qualified jobs within all corporations. Applying for a director or higher level product manager job in a multinational has many of the same requirements and require the same type of approach as when applying for CEO jobs in Small-Medium size enterprises.” Mattias Wildeman
“A very enriching session with Jill as a part of the HEC Women in Leadership Club initiative. It was amazing to meet a much accomplished but unbelievably modest woman leader. Jill shared her own life experiences and personal anecdotes while addressing real bold workplace issues with tremendous honesty. I came back inspired and ready to take on the world!”