Empowering Women: It’s all about making matches with the occupation of your dreams
by Ananya Sahni
Dec 9, 2022
Women have always been at a disadvantage when it comes to being represented and recognized at the workplace. As per a study conducted by McKenzie for 60 major corporations, there was significant drop in the percentage female’s employees up the corporate ladder. For every 3,25,000 women at entry level jobs, the study revealed that, only 7000 made it to the senior management level. Although in the recent years there have been severe improvements, there is still long road to progress with women still being underrepresented at all levels of managements.
The pandemic has further widened this gap and taken a greater toll on women. Data for labor force participation rate shows a much higher decline in women employment than men. The primary reason for this being a change priorities as primary care givers in their families and thus being forced to quit their jobs. However, those who remained took on greater responsibilities and portrayed themselves as strong leaders. Companies observed that women leaders were better compared to their men counterparts in promoting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion which is the need of the hour. Corporations that fail to acknowledge or reward this vital labor, it will have serious ramifications. Thus, establishments now more than ever are pushing for having more women at leadership levels to navigate the pandemic and ensure sustained growth.
Additionally, females feel more dissatisfied with their current jobs. Over 50% of the women in Wisconsin considered leaving their work while only 10% of the millennial women believed that they had accomplished everything they wanted in both their personal and professional lives.
So, in this new business environment faced with this high demand what can we women do to choose the right opportunity for us?
Two years ago, I had what most people would assume-the perfect job. As a fresh graduate with no prior experience, I was working for one of the big fours as a risk consultant and internal auditor in the financial services industry. It was a well reputed and paying job that would help jumpstart my career. However, I wasn’t happy with my choice, and it wasn’t right fit. While I had always strived for working in a management consulting firm once there, I never felt that drive and enthusiasm for any of the projects and never looked forward to going to work. Just sitting day in and out staring at numbers on an excel sheet so heavy that it frequently crashed my laptop wasn’t the life I had envisioned for myself. I felt lost and wondered whether it was a blunder or just part of learning.
Unable to figure things out at that point I decided to pursue a master’s degree in the hope of achieving some clarity and a well-defined goal. However, again as I looked to graduate, I still struggled to answer the What Next question?
Fostered in a family full of entrepreneurs pioneering the Indian hospitality industry with a chain of restaurants and hotels tête-à- tête with industry experts was never an alien concept for me. Through this I acquired a keen interest in tourism, food servicing and experiential dining industry. This interest was reinstated during pandemic as I worked part-time in helping my dad manage the business and observed the natural inclination and inquisitiveness. While there have always been a lot of opportunities in this industry there have been practically none for someone with my skill set and education. Therefore, in an attempt to carve my own space, I struggled to find a job in this service industry beyond my family business.
The challenge I faced was how do I capitalize on my global mindset, education, and past professional experience in risk consulting while following my passion to define a career path in the food service line. I had two choices, either to travel on the safe well-defined road and take up another opportunity at a consulting company where I could leverage my education and professional background, again be dissatisfied, disappointed and leave after 2 years or I could strive for the road not taken to craft an occupation of my dreams. So, I decided to create a personal strategy for boutique employability that built in my passions and capabilities.
Step 1: Define the Challenge
The first step was to gather my thoughts, pin down the challenge, find the root cause of the complexity and think about where I wanted to be, rather than just float ambiguously. Answering the 5 key W’s Who, When, Where, What and why helped me define the problem.
Step 2: Conduct the internal and external analysis to arrive at the SWOT
I conducted an internal analysis to take a stock of my capabilities, strengths, resources and become aware of the weaknesses to assess my abilities to tackle the challenge. This formed the first two shelves of S and W. Secondly, I conducted a detailed market research into the relevant countries undertaking both a macroscopic (political, environmental, technical, legal, and social) view and microscopic industry level view to get the O and T.
Step 3: Create matches to find the gap and opportunities in market
The next step it to match the strengths and opportunities to find the white spaces and gaps in the market. Through my analysis I found a white space in Singapore. With a high eating out culture, tourism, affluent population, and policy preference the restaurant sector was grappling the dire effects of the pandemic was keen to recover. This raised high demand for consultants to help them combat operational challenges and achieve a competitive edge in this disrupted yet highly competitive environment.
Step 4: Generate value for yourself and stakeholders that differentiates oneself from competitors
In Singapore my value proposition as a global talent was to aid restaurant owners and investors, look for a new business strategy for process improvements and optimization to achieve sustained growth. Faced with changes in consumption patterns, labor shortages, global supply chain break down and rapid digitalization, they need to now innovate their business model and operations. My skills in consulting firms on process improvements, automation, and audit along with education in the areas of business strategy, model innovation and marketing and a strong network with existing players in industry enabled me to operate in the market. I was further able to differentiate myself in this niche by studying the competitors and realizing the scope of services provided by existing players was very limited.
Finally, arriving at that breakthrough eureka moment with a clearly defined vision and goal for the future one backed with research and analysis empowered me. I now feel more confident and know exactly what I need to be working towards in the future.
About the Author
Ananya Sahni is a current Master’s in International Management student at Northeastern University. Graduating in Summer 2022 she is looking for jobs in boutique luxury consulting firms operating in the Hospitality and F&B industry.