Episode 23: WERKIN with Andrea Pfeffer on pampering and participation

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This week, we’re WERKIN with Andrea Pfeffer, founder of Pfeffer Sal a skincare clinic in Fitzrovia, often touted as a respite from the chaos of Central London. Andrea talked with WERKIN founder and CEO Hayley Sudbury about business, babies, balance, and the importance of washing London off your face each night.

A new model for skincare: experience and education

Before opening Pfeffer Sal, Andrea launched small businesses across fashion, marketing, and PR. While she learned a lot from her previous careers, she found herself “in a position where I'd worked so hard and was actually really unsatisfied. So I wanted to do something that not only made myself feel good and proud, but also made other people feel good.”

Having always been interested in skincare and overall health, the entrepreneur naturally found herself taking notes on what worked and what didn’t in the skincare services she personally used, “I had a lot of disappointing experiences for myself and I felt that the exposure that I had wasn't what I wanted to experience as a client.”

Andrea describes her frustration with the ways in which the beauty industry can attempt to exploit insecurities in order to sell products and services. But as she sees it, “the beauty industry has the most amazing power to make you feel incredible about yourself. It's such a perfect time to celebrate the uniqueness that we all have and to offer a business or a service that has the power to do that.”

She views skincare as not only a service or product, but a form of education such that clients can leave with a better knowledge of their skin and how to care for it. “Our primary objective is skin health through education advice and support, and that's probably the heart and soul of what the business is about.”

To change the model, there is no commission system at Pfeffer Sal, employees are not rewarded for selling products, “I don't want a team of salespeople. I want people making genuine recommendations on how you can improve your skin health without feeling that pressure we all feel when we're being sold to. It's not a great experience.”

Instead, Andrea has sought to create an experience for clients made up of “the little touches throughout the whole space, though we might not shout about them, but that demonstrate the heart and soul and integrity of truly believing in what we're saying.”

Your Business is Your Baby. Your Baby is your Baby.

What’s it like to create that client experience while going through your own transformational experience, say having a baby? As Andrea puts it, “your business is your baby and your baby is your baby. And I continually struggle with the feeling that I'm not giving it enough attention either.” But the challenge of navigating both “definitely teaches you to be much more efficient with your time.” Caring for a baby while growing a business, in many ways for Andrea, has given her focus to give her full self to each dimension when necessary, “having a baby or another little person that actually is your focus enables your headspace,” while switching from business mode to baby mode, “I just need to focus on this other person. It forces you to have a better work life balance and puts things in perspective."

For Andrea, the common skill she’s picked up for both parenthood and entrepreneurship is a strengthened intuition, what she calls “gut intelligence.” Every child is different, but what helps parenting is gaining the confidence to trust your gut. Similarly, “the intuitive aspect of running your own business is so important because you don't have time to sit there and think about one decision for two weeks. So you have to continually make decisions on the fly, and your gut intelligence, is absolutely vital to succeed, whether it's right or wrong, it’s at least moving forward and making a decision. For me I needed to listen to my gut more and when I knew something wasn't right, I needed to follow that.”

Wellness: A Balance of Participation and Pampering

Andrea’s business, Pfeffer Sal, started within a growing “wellness industry.” But what does wellness mean for her?

“It means a balance. Extreme wellness, 10 hours sleep every night; yoga every morning; 20 minutes mindfulness meditation every morning and night; noting down my feelings and emotions in my book on the side of the bed; never having a glass of wine; etc. etc. etc. That's never going to happen. That's not wellness to me. That is stress. But for some people that kind of discipline provides them with a sanctuary and security.

 Wellness to me is equally about participation and pampering. Wellness to a lot of people is about participation. It's about setting very stressful goals and objectives. They have to practice yoga four times a week. They have to do this, they have to do that. Let's take London for example.

 A huge amount of people in London have got a massive amount of participation down pat. We Londoners participate in everything, whether it's a brainstorming session, whether it's an extra two hours at work, whether it's a crazy commute. We know how to participate. That's not the problem. We don't know how to be pampered, and that's where I feel that there's a huge gap psychologically and physically. Pampering that you received from someone else. It could be a treatment, but pampering you also give yourself at home. Now I'm not saying you should have a 45-minute bath. I don't even have time for a 45-minute bath.”

How can you pamper yourself when you don’t have time for a 45-minute bath? It can be as simple as your two-minute, 36-second nighttime skincare routine. Andrea recalls a recent post she shared on Instagram,

“These are the seven products I use in my night routine, seven ‘steps.’ That's, quite high-maintenance isn't it? I timed the routine, and it was two minutes, thirty-six.

That's some pampering that takes two minutes, 36 seconds. That's realistic for most people in London. Wellness to me is a two-minute, 36 routine.”

Happy Parents, Happy Business

Apart from finding her own participation and pampering balance to manage a full life, how can larger institutions support women, parents, and anyone else with caregiving responsibilities to maintain their career progression?

“I have been very fortunate in that I haven't really experienced much gender discrimination in the workforce. I've always tended to always place myself in quite female orientated industries. From my experience of being a mum, what I would love is much greater financial incentives for businesses to set up childcare and support whether that's for dads or for mums. I think you and your business are going to win on so many levels because if you have happy parents, with happy children. Their productivity and their work flow is going to be more creative and more energized.

 Society, which is in the government's best interest, wins because you're opening up opportunity to employ greater talent, a greater pool of people because you're able to offer that support and infrastructure.”

Finally, for those launching a business or a baby or both, what’s the one thing we can do to keep our skin healthy? Remember to wash London off your face.

“Honestly, from a skin health perspective, every night you need to wash your face with a cleanser. The best way to think about it is you're going to bed with London on your face, literally. You have to wash your face. That's number one and number two is change your pillowcase at least once a week. And your face is going to be so happy.

For more from Hayley’s conversation with Andrea, including how NASA air filters can help your skin, the value of tenacity, and how your inner circle of friends can be your most valuable advisory board, listen to the full podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.


Episode 22: WERKIN with Jennifer Rademaker on introspection

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On this week’s episode, Hayley talks with Jennifer Rademaker, EVP of Global Customer Delivery at Mastercard. Apart from her career with Mastercard, Rademaker has been recognized as an ally for her advocacy and sponsorship of the LGBT community. She shares what it takes to be an effective ally, the power of introspection and mentorship, and the importance of getting comfortable with video conference calls.

Jennifer Rademaker, EVP Global Customer Delivery at Mastercard

Jennifer Rademaker, EVP Global Customer Delivery at Mastercard

 Leading a division of 800 people located in 67 offices around the world, Rademaker is responsible for technical product launches across markets. She’s learned the value of a diverse workforce and what it takes to bring together teams across languages and cultures. “Not only do we have technical skills and customer facing skills, but we also do it in the local language. I'm very proud of the team and we've got a great mix of folks.”

 At a time when traditionally male dominated finance and tech companies seek to hire and support more diverse talent, it’s also remarkable that Rademaker leads a team with a 50-50 gender balance, of which 40% identify as people of color. “We've got a really nice mix and I think it sets the tone for what I expect in any organization I lead that the people have lots of opportunity, that we're encouraging of diversity. And most importantly that we have role models.”

 For early and mid- career employees from underrepresented groups, seeing themselves reflected in leaders at the top through role models, provides a vision and something to aspire to. For Rademaker, integrating diversity and inclusion to encourage a workplace with more of these role models is about setting a tone.

“If my people see that I'm a supportive, open, accepting advocate, it makes it a safe place for people and a safe place regardless of whether we're talking about LGBT or gender or people of color. It's setting the tone that this is something we want. That this is a place where people can actually grow.”

 Beyond setting an inclusive and supportive tone, Rademaker emphasizes that allies engage with underrepresented groups through mentorship, through supporting their careers to grow beyond recruitment, “I work one on one with people that I can help to get to the next level through one on one coaching sessions.”

 As the founder and CEO of WERKIN, Hayley Sudbury has observed that as the gender pay gap reports have come out, many companies with some of the biggest gaps too often focus solely on recruitment, but unless companies help women and other underrepresented groups throughout their careers, “people don't stay and they don't actually move up through to those senior positions.”

“Having career mentorship or coaching or sponsorship or all of the above is a key to helping people get to that next level. There's so much that you don't understand about an organisation and how to advance in an organisation. What are the unwritten rules? What are the right projects to get on? What are the roles that you should be looking for that signal that you're executive material? Sometimes this is impossible on your own and that's where a really great coach can help you in the first instance to wade through that and find your way, but also be an advocate for you,” according to Rademaker.

But it takes more than a mentor or a coach, it takes an advocate because to Rademaker, “so many of these promotions, new job opportunities, get decided off to the side and if you don't have somebody who's sitting at that table who's your advocate who mentions your name, you don't even get considered sometimes.” Which is why it is so important for more inclusive access to mentors and sponsors to advocate for more diverse groups of employees.

 And as a mentor to 28 people within Mastercard, Rademaker is doing her part. How does she manage mentoring so many? She says that asking questions early on to determine whether she can actually help these individuals from her position, understanding their goals, matters. She’s also started what she calls “coaching circles” to engage more mentees with similar interests. She also engages with emerging leaders to encourage them to take on more mentees, particularly women. It’s about “creating a sisterhood and a support system and it's simple things, like for example a lot of ladies can be very quiet in meetings, and men interpret that as she doesn't have anything to say. Well, she just might be shy and need a little encouragement. She probably has a lot to say. But sometimes folks need to be drawn out. What can you do in the meeting to support her?” Rademaker emphasizes the importance of shining a light on the achievements of others in meetings.

How does she manage to connect with her mentees and teammates across the globe? Rademaker admits it takes a degree of comfort with video conferencing, turning on that camera during a call “Especially if somebody is having a difficult thing that they need to be coached through. Sometimes that is easier in a face to face environment. Technology is so good, you can be anywhere and connect with people. And I feel very comfortable using that.”

Even with the supportive culture Rademaker has sought to create at Mastercard, financial services remains a difficult industry overall for women who make up just 14% of partners at UK firms. What are her top two tips to women considering a career in this industry?

“The first is to find your secret sauce. What is it that you do better than most people? People don't spend enough time on introspection, thinking about themselves and what is the talent that I'm really good at. And sometimes it can change throughout your career. What you're good at when you're 20 might be very different from what you're good at when you're 40 or 50 because you're evolving your skills. Have a very strong view of where your talents are and where are your areas of development.”

With a strong sense of self and your unique talents, “you do a much better job of picking roles and assignments and projects.” Apart from introspection, Rademaker recommends “finding a sponsor or a mentor or a coach who can give you honest feedback.”

For more from Hayley’s conversation with Jennifer Rademaker, including the shoes she rewarded herself with after her first big break and the power of having a good zoom lens, listen to the full interview on iTunes or SoundCloud

Episode 21: WERKIN with Margot Slattery on the path from chef to Sodexo’s top executive in Ireland

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On this week’s episode, we’re WERKIN with Margot Slattery, Sodexo’s country president of Ireland. WERKIN founder & CEO Hayley Sudbury sat down with Slattery at Sodexo’s UK head office in London to discuss the joy of growing and preparing food; publicly coming out amid Ireland’s marriage referendum and what goes into a good gin and tonic— all on her path from chef to a top executive and diversity and inclusion leader.

Having grown up on a farm and around the hospitality industry, Slattery had an early exposure to food services, propelling her to culinary school,

“The reason I became a chef was that my Mom had a background in hotel management and I came from a household where food was a really big thing. All our family were big foodies and I grew up on a farm. We grew food, made food and loved eating food.”

Seeing many of the challenges female chefs faced in their careers, Slattery soon saw other opportunities in hospitality management and food services, but she wouldn’t stop thinking about the role of these inequities across industries,

“I probably recognised that cooking and being in the kitchen for a woman at that time was an incredibly hard job. At the time, [a career as a chef] wasn't really recognised the way it is today. Being a chef was not that glamorous back in the 90s.”

After going back to school for hospitality management, Slattery took a junior position with Sodexo. Having a knack for managing teams and projects, Slattery knew she found her place and built her career with the food service and facilities management company, now the 19th largest employer in the world.

Along the way, Slattery grew to appreciate Sodexo’s dedication to diversity and inclusion through emphasising equal access to opportunities. Amid Ireland’s 2015 same-sex marriage referendum, she was encouraged by activists to use her platform to support marriage equality on a personal level. Although she had long been out among friends, family and close colleagues, she was asked to make a more public statement.

“I was approached by a number of NGOs in the LGBT scene who said we need a corporate to come out, we need business woman. Will you do it? And I really hesitated in the beginning, because it was such an insular world and everybody in Ireland, we're only under five million people, knows each other. I was a little nervous that it might influence my career.”

The nudge by local activists was enough to prompt Slattery to provide her voice as a gay businesswoman, causing a ripple effect,

“Like a lot of people, there was that moment of truth with oneself where I said, well if I don't [share my story] we're never going to change, we're not going to move the dial. And so I did. It's incredibly important because it did move the dial and then others came out or others started talking.”

In addition to Sodexo being recognised as a leader in LGBT inclusion, it also has 50-50 gender parity on its board. How has Slattery’s own journey impacted and been shaped by Sodexo’s culture of inclusion?

“It depends on the regions of where you are and across the world. In 2014 and 2017 we did a survey of 50 different parts of the business or entities and we looked at the results of those businesses where we had a 40-60, men-women balance. We saw that our employee engagement, our financial results, our diversity and inclusion scores, our business retention, our winning and growth, and revenue numbers were all far better in all of those regions.”

Apart from working within a company dedicated to supporting underrepresented groups, Slattery attributes her success to her resilience and ability to prioritise what matters,

 “I try not to let anything get me down too much and recognise that work and everything else in life has its place and its time. [One must] be able to let it go at the end of the day if it's a work thing or if it's a personal thing, and try to find a way of getting on top of it all and stay cheery and good humoured and not get me down too much. So I think resilience is probably [the most important] for me.”

To hear more from Hayley’s interview, including Slattery’s preference for fast cars and her recipe for the best gin and tonic, listen to the full interview on iTunes or Soundcloud.