The L.E.K. Network and Women@LEK held the global series “L.E.K. Women’s Stories From Around the World” last month where exceptional alumni from Europe, the Americas, and APAC discussed their career journeys and experiences as women in the workplace. Panelists from each region shared their own authentic stories and provided meaningful advice set to inspire and support the women of L.E.K., past and present.

Insightful themes and bit of wisdom from the series were:

  • Be proactive about finding a mentor
  • Be open to learning and ask the right questions
  • Expose issues that exist in the workplace
  • Be your own advocate and make your voice heard
  • Your career is a marathon, not a sprint
  • Take up space in a room even if it’s full of men – don’t make yourself smaller
  • Think on your superpower every day – and brag about it!

Julia Trevisan, L.E.K. alum and current Customer Strategy Manager at Woolworths Group in Australia, participated in the Americas panel and offered further insights to the wider L.E.K. community.

Tell me a little about yourself and where you are now after L.E.K.
I graduated with a chemical engineering degree and was working at a chemical plant before realizing I wanted to get into the consulting life. I worked mostly in the Brazil L.E.K. office and was on swap for 9 months at the San Francisco office. I did a lot of retail projects at L.E.K., which made me start thinking I wanted to get into retail and start working in the industry full time. Now I work in customer strategy at Woolworths in Australia.

What was your experience at L.E.K. like, and what type of leadership skills did you gain?
I had the opportunity to work with multiple teams across offices around the world. This helped me learn how to work in diverse environments and cultures, which led me to where I am today, thriving in a multicultural company. L.E.K. also sharpened my analytical skills that have helped me structure my thinking and work style today. I learned how to do complex modeling in Excel and financial forecasting, which comes in handy in any company and multiple contexts. These skills have made it easy for me to communicate with stakeholders and people who lead. L.E.K. taught me how to organize myself and influence people to get things done, which in the end is what you want as a leader.

What advice do you have to build successful mentorship relationships? 
Instead of walking straight up to someone and asking them to be your mentor, I would first begin the process by showing interest in the skills they have and the work they do to create an organic relationship. I believe peer-to-peer mentoring relationships are extremely important and can also play an important role in helping those seeking a senior mentor, as they will allow you to gain the confidence and leverage the skills of someone at the same level as you. I think it’s important for women to find both male and female mentors. My female mentors helped me to be a better professional by bringing my most authentic self to work. Male mentors have been champions of my work and provided different perspectives. I’ve found it helpful to have balance and help from both.

What challenges have you experienced as a woman in the workplace?
Some degree of implicit sexism is always present and there have been several situations where I felt excluded. For instance, being in a room full of men and feeling like I’m not being heard or being mistaken for someone junior in the company because I am a woman. A man can be saying the same thing I am saying in a room, but he will get more attention. I’ve also noticed there are opportunities that I and other women aren’t necessarily invited to because they’re considered “guy things,” like soccer games or certain happy hours, leaving women excluded from networking with their teams.

What was the best piece of career advice you’ve received?
Companies always talk about being flexible, but generally there’s only flexibility when it suits them. Be sure to work for a company whose flexibility works for everyone. 

Another great piece of advice I received was make sure you’re set up for success by ensuring you have the right structure around you. Whenever I start a new job or project, my first thought is Am I set up for success? Sometimes as women we think everything is on us, but it’s important to surround yourself with people who want to help you succeed along with the tools to do so. Don’t be afraid to ask for support. 

Advice I have for women when they’re looking to make a career decision is to make sure the company you are working for looks after women. Are there women in leadership? Can you see yourself growing there? Be sure to ask these questions before deciding to work for them.

What is your career superpower?
Consulting taught me how to communicate and align with people to get what we want together, even if there are differing opinions. I also know how to produce high-quality work in a short time frame. These superpowers formed and grew during my time at L.E.K., which helped me get to where I am today.