To mark International Women’s Day 2022, we’ve gathered our best advice for women in the rubber industry.
Know your worth and then ask for it! Approximately 10 years ago, and shortly after I was asked to run the USA office of a major commodity player during a record year of profitability, my new CEO asked me how much of a raise and bonus I thought I deserved. It felt wrong (and slightly greedy) and I was nervous to speak up but I did it anyway and it was a rewarding life lesson that has served me well. I had to advocate for myself and my contribution to the business. This has become the foundation of my leadership style and I encourage all who I mentor, especially women, to do the same.
Petrene Pearce, CEO, Corrie MacColl North America – North America
There is always more to learn. Don’t settle in your career or be intimidated by this but embrace it. Find a way of upskilling that suits you best – whether this is through academic or online study, in the field, or even by observing and learning from role models within the workplace. I have made efforts to learn across different plantation posts from nursery to land preparation to tapping over 10 years. This broad range of skillsets places me on a steady path to eventually realising my ambition of working within the Head Plantation Department, in a role that hasn’t yet been occupied by a woman at the Hevecam plantation.
Nanji Bih Akonwi, Plantation Manager, Upkeep – Cameroon
Speak up and make your accomplishments visible. It’s easy to waste precious time building up confidence whereas in fact, there is never going to be a precisely perfect moment – so it is always better to take the chance and dive in before an opportunity passes. Never think that your ideas and visions are not important or valuable because they are. When you speak, people will listen. Be aware of that fact and never doubt your ideas. Also, make sure that your accomplishments are noticed – it is important to say ‘This is what I did and this is why it was a good action/ thought/ strategy.’
Corine Hoedeman, Head of European Logistics, Quality Manager – Netherlands
Consider your customers’ working contexts with empathy. We are working with producers and manufacturers along the supply chain with their own industry concerns – exchange rate, political or geological challenges. I try to think like them, and try to understand their responsibility and the load on their shoulders as if I am thinking about my own pocket. By understanding more and having empathy, you will be trusted with market insights, daily challenges and key decisions.
Serenat Akkas, Director – Turkey
Pay attention to the details of how you communicate. The rubber industry is a very active and exciting business area where continuous communication is essential. The tone of your communication sets the tone for relationships with both colleagues and customers – even minor details, like email style, can affect your success. Listen carefully and ask questions, and never lose your sense of humour along the way. Through small changes to your communication, you will benefit from extraordinary experiences and will nurture stronger relationships in the long-run.
Nina Ruehl, Manager, Latex Department – Germany
Recognise the value of your unique skillsets. Remind yourself of the skills, years of study and experience that you bring to the workplace, and how it contributes to the wider company and industry. The laboratory is an often forgotten part of the supply chain, although its value is crucial. Without the laboratory, there could be no rubber industry. Additionally, I remind myself of my position as a woman in science, and how I should always expect to be taken seriously in that world.
Femke van Tatenhove, Laboratory Manager – Kelvin Terminals, Netherlands
Don’t hide your personality in the workplace, particularly traits that are sometimes considered more ‘feminine.’ Within the standard bounds of professionalism, allow the full spectrum of your personality to be expressed: from tender to tough. When we can be ourselves, we do better in life and in our careers.
Claire Zhang, Finance Manager – China