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Women’s History Month is celebrated during March and is dedicated to highlighting the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. Here at Mood, we are proud to count on hundreds of talented women as part of our global team.

To celebrate this important month, we interviewed a handful of the women of Mood to find out their advice for women in leadership, their inspirations and how they foresee the business landscape evolving in the future.

How would you define a great leader?

Laura Matei: The most important quality for a great leader is empathy and the skill of being able to balance it with delivering results. The key word here is adapt, adapt, adapt!

Shari Green: For me, it’s someone who can help their team understand how they can impact the goals of the business so they feel they are contributing to it’s and the team’s success. Also, someone who truly believes in giving the customer a great experience while balancing the needs of the business (whether that customer is internal or external).

Amy Blackburn: When I think of great leaders, there are a few specific people that come to mind. They are the most unassuming individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Their lack of ego and lack of judgment allow them to be fully aware of everyone and everything around them. They are compassionate and inspirational people who challenge you, making you want to be the best version of yourself.

Jaime Bettencourt: The definition of a great leader is someone that sets direction, communicates often, manages authentically and with empathy. Authenticity is a huge part of leading people – you have to be true to yourself and care about the people that you work with every day. Culture is critical. Building the right culture of trust, drive and high levels of expectations helps to raise the bar. I also believe that your team has to know that they can fail and you will still have their back. As long as your team knows how to make good business decisions and do what’s right, that’s all you can ask.

Shannon Tesch: A great leader is someone who can motivate and inspire those around them to take challenges head on with confidence they have the path paved in front of them to succeed.

Torri Tippett: I define a great leader as one who motivates, teaches and inspires, especially through his or her own actions. It’s very easy to fall into patterns or become complacent in your role, but a great leader will lead by example while challenging and motivating you to excel in your career.

Laura Diaz: A great leader for me is someone who always puts people first and who understands that large goals are usually achieved by good team work instead of individuals. Also it is important to motivate the team and remain positive, even in difficult and complex situations.

Raluca Constantinescu: I think great leaders are rare. To become a great leader, it requires in my view approaching the leadership path as a journey. A journey with a known destination but an unknown road to follow. A journey where you stop and listen to what others have to say and you decide sometimes on your own if you turn left or right. It requires determination, conversations, strong personal values and undoubtedly openness to consider that each opinion has its worth.

Norilynn O’Neill: A great leader is someone who provides the necessary support for their teams to be successful, while also empowering individuals to make decisions and execute on tasks in a way that facilitates the individual’s growth and development.  Said differently, I would associate a great leader with the role of a coach – helping individuals improve, providing new plays and directions, but allowing the individual to take the shot on their own.

Leeanne Snow: A great leader is someone who creates a culture where people are inspired to create great ideas, a great listener, someone who is motivated to coach, mentor, inspire a team to perform at their best. It’s a balancing act and each day presents a different challenge. Collaboration and the ability to listen to the people you lead are key components to being a great leader. It’s a fine line between being a leader of people and a manager.

Linda Ralph: A great leader to me is someone who doesn’t demand that you follow them, or necessarily possess great academic prowess, a great leader inspires people to do more…to be more, than they thought they could be, through their natural energy, genuine love of what they do, and a clear vision for a better future.

Joanna Luke: A great leader is someone who is willing to roll their sleeves up to support the team to deliver; someone who does not have a higher opinion of themselves just because of their title; someone who says “thank you” for a job well done, someone who knows when to say sorry for getting it wrong and someone who teaches, nurtures and mentors others to carry on (and improve on) her legacy.

Layla Evans: A great leader is someone who has the ability to influence positive change and growth for their employees and a company. A great leader encourages, builds confidence, and empowers others to achieve their goals. A great leader is ethical, has empathy and is humble. A great leader inspires, promotes, supports and grows with their team. Leaders have great responsibilities.

What advice do you have for women in leadership? 

Laura Matei: My advice would be don’t ever let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do. Be fearless, push your limits and also help others grow. Support your team and fight for the things they need to be successful.

Shari Green: Always be learning from those around you – even someone you may find challenging to work with.

Amy Blackburn: For women in leadership, I would like to remind them to remember they are human. Be kind to yourself, love yourself. Always be curious and confident like you were as a child. Be kind and supportive of other women. Energy attracts like energy so surround yourself with good people.

Lindsay Warner: Believe in yourself and be confident in your abilities. Being confident allows you to build trust with your team and effectively allows you to challenge “the standard” to find better, more innovative ways to solve problems.

Laura Radu: Be unique, trust your emotional intelligence and continuously inspire others.

Jaime Bettencourt: Learn to sell. Sell a product, sell your company, sell your value.

Be client-facing at some point in your career. Being on the front lines helps you stay relevant, no matter how high up in an organization you go. Learn to negotiate for yourself. Once you learn this skill and you know that it is just a business conversation between two equals, the game changes. It’s not easy, but it’s a skill you have to learn for scalable success. Travel & Create Experiences. It’s where you find inspiration and it keeps you interesting to others when you have a story to tell. Inspiration comes from everywhere. Find someone that believes in you and that can help you pave the way to your next role in or outside of your organization. You always need a champion that is in the room that you aren’t in.

Shannon Tesch: Never underestimate your potential, keep challenging yourself each day and one step at a time you will see yourself bloom.

Raluca Constantinescu: If I were to give some advice, I would simply remind each woman that she’s there, in her role, also because she is a woman. And that it’s OK to bring her full self at work and that she brings value by stating her mind and expressing both her opinions as her emotions. And not forget what other hats she is wearing besides the leader one.

Leeanne Snow: Never give up on your dreams. Shoot for the stars always! Never underestimate yourself. Learn how to Lead with confidence. Practice emotional intelligence as women are often perceived as too “emotional” to be effective leaders.

Andreea Mocanu: If you’re afraid to speak up, feel the fear and speak up anyway. You were hired for a reason and the world needs your ideas.

Linda Ralph: Believe in yourself and your ability to succeed. Success does not require ruthlessness or manipulation, it requires the strength to make tough decisions, the humility to listen and accept when you are wrong, and the emotional intelligence to know the difference.   Behave with integrity and work hard and you will be on your way to achieve your goals.

How do you foresee the business landscape continuing to evolve (for women) in the coming years?  

Laura Matei: I believe we will continue to witness how female leaders succeed in more areas, not just business. We are problem solvers and that is visible in the increased number of women that own businesses today compared with 50 years ago. Here in Romania, I see women that are involved in education, bringing new learning methods, effective programs for the upcoming generations. And if we excel in education, we will excel in business, bringing sustainable economic growth. I hope the next landscape we conquer is politics.

Shari Green: I believe women will continue to take on more roles in leadership they weren’t considered for in the past, which will ultimately evolve the governments and businesses they lead.

Jaime Bettencourt: We will continue to see more women finding a voice and working together to lift one another up. This is something that has been bubbling for a while now, and we are just seeing the beginning of the evolution. Women are perfectly positioned to lead in the new way of work we have all had to adapt to over the past two years.

Torri Tippett: I see more and more women stepping into leadership roles, particularly in the tech space and niche industries like ours at Mood. I’m excited to see more women having a seat at the table in executive leadership roles, boardrooms and beyond. Having different points of view and perspectives will keep us in the optimal position to understand our clients, meet their needs and grow our business.

Raluca Constantinescu: The business landscape is shaped by all of us, women and men.

I think women are making their voices heard more nowadays and they are an equal and valuable partner in any conversation. I can only foresee great career opportunities created for women.

Andreea Mocanu: In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.

Zinnia Salcedo: It is my hope that we continue to broaden the opportunities for women, women entrepreneurs and women in leadership roles at executive and board levels. For our next generation of leaders I think of the quote from Sheryl Sandberg, “In the future there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” As we celebrate International Women’s Day in future years, that is the hope that there are just leaders, and we can, collectively, reflect back to the past to continue to learn from this time and see how far we have come for equal representation.

Linda Ralph: While the pandemic that has impacted our world has forced a great many difficult changes in business, it has also caused us to re-evaluate all of the traditional ‘norms’, working from home has meant there is less room for the negative effects of coffee machine gossip, team silos/cliques, or status snobbery. Flexible working patterns have been proven to not only work, but often be more effective/efficient rather than a barrier to promotion prospects. In this new situation, every person is treated equally and is measured on their direct contribution and achievements. Not only is this an advantage for women in business, but in fact for anyone who may have been overlooked or unrecognized, regardless of the reason.

What most drives or motivates you? 

Laura Matei: I am motivated by the need to support and help my team members grow and succeed. I understand that goals are easier to achieve together and I applaud women that support other women and also men that support women in their professional growth. I had two mentors here at Mood, a man and a woman, that both helped me learn from their successes and failures. But I would say the need to give my best everyday is the main driver I have.

Leeanne Snow: What drives me is coaching and mentoring a team. Breaking something down to the roots and rebuilding something bigger and better than what you had before. Watching a group of individuals develop into a solid working cohesive team. One team building exercise that proved to be wildly successful helped the team develop a strong bond and made a bold statement about who we are and what we stand for, and we accomplished this together!

Raluca Constantinescu: People drive me. Being part of their journey, contributing to their growth and success and being a team. Real conversations drive me. Honest and well-intended thoughts. Laughing together with people also drives me.

Shari Green: What drives me is providing individuals with opportunities to grow professionally and reach their goals.

Lindsay Warner: I’ve both played and coached competitive sports for several years of my life, giving me tools and the experience to become a better leader. I’ve been fortunate enough to recruit some very talented people and be able to promote them to leadership roles throughout my tenure. It’s been extremely rewarding to guide my team’s growth and to see the impact they make within the business.

Anita Lewis: There are several things that motivate me; however, they all follow under one primary heading… Success. Success to me is that sense of achievement when completing that impossible project. It is improving my knowledge, overcoming challenges, and implementing changes resulting in a better work environment. Finally, it is passing on the knowledge I have gained to my teams and watching them grow as they succeed.

Norilynn O’Neill: What motivates me professionally is feeling valued for my contributions.  I want others to know they can rely on me for support and assistance.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll point them in the direction of someone who does.

Linda Ralph: My greatest motivation comes from achieving the goals I have set for myself, whether in my career or personal life. In my career, I have been lucky to work with some incredible leaders, and I have learned something valuable from them all, and would love to imagine that perhaps someone I have worked with may learn something positive from me that in some small way may enhance their career too. I am grateful to be able to participate in the strategic decision making of our business, and will always be motivated by driving business growth and customer satisfaction.

Laura Radu: “Your gender isn’t what makes you stand out, it’s what you achieve that makes you stand out.”

Each morning when I wake up, I see it as a new opportunity to strive for excellence, to overcome my expectations and to permanently enjoy walking on the road of success surrounded by my people (team and colleagues) rather than alone, focused on the final destination.

Joanna Luke: Continuing to learn throughout my career helps motivate me. There is always more to learn and people to learn from. No-one can know everything and being humble enough to accept when we do not know the answer is really important. The other thing which motivates me most is showing my two daughters how important women are in the working world and that my daughters can achieve whatever they want to achieve as long as they work hard, show kindness and have a positive can-do attitude.

Which woman in your life inspires you?

Shari Green: For me, it would be Evelyn Bardahl McNeil. Evelyn is a woman I’ve admired since we met.  Her youngest daughter and I have been close friends for over 30 years. Evelyn took over management of Seattle’s Bardahl Manufacturing racing activities, hydroplanes, Indy cars and airplanes from her father in the late ’60s. At that time she was a widow with 6 young children. Evelyn eventually became Chairman of the Board at Bardahl in the late ’80s managing it’s domestic and international business affairs. Evelyn has been called the original “SUPER MOM” because while she worked full time she never missed a ball game, PTA meeting, holiday program or open house for any of her six children. Everytime I think of how much she achieved in her life personally and professionally I am truly inspired!

Amy Blackburn: Although I’ve had many inspirational women in my life including my 2 grandmothers, my Mom has always been my biggest inspiration for wanting to do more and be more each day. Even though she passed in late 2020, I still hear her words and use her guidance in making decisions about my life, big or small. She raised me to be an independent person, to think for myself and to love big.

Laura Radu: My mom, who taught me that nothing is impossible, as long as I use my talents to the max, trust my instinct and if I’m willing to work hard enough and constantly remain motivated.

Raluca Constantinescu: My mom. She was for me a true example of resilience mixed with an optimistic perspective. She loved to be surrounded by people and loved to make them smile. She never stopped fighting for what she wanted to achieve. She was always finding ways to accomplish her goals. She was an inspiration for me and she is a part of who I am.

Layla Evans: My very first boss out of college was a woman. She was not only the sole owner of our company, but she was my first mentor. She showed me the way and taught me the ropes, but also allowed me to be authentic and autonomous in my work. She always inspired me to think outside the box and to continue growing. She always made me feel valued and appreciated. Sometimes it’s the simple things that matter the most.

Linda Ralph: There are many inspirational women that have shaped our world: Marie Curie, Harriet Tubman, Anita Roddick, Malala Yousafzai to name a few. But the woman in my life who inspires me the most is my best friend Kelly, despite being continually bombarded with more emotional stress than many could take (the tragic loss of a younger sibling, the deterioration of her mother to dementia, the loss of her father through alcohol) she has devoted her life to understanding others and helping them grow and develop. While raising a young family, she went back to evening school and trained as a counselor, and is currently completing her teacher training degree in order to not only help young and troubled kids through difficult times, but to also help them excel academically. If I were to ask her directly, Kelly would not consider herself an inspirational woman and would be shocked that anyone else would think she might be, and this is exactly why she inspires me so much.

Joanna Luke: Most definitely Audrey Hepburn. She was ground-breaking in her modeling and film career, had so much grace, elegance and charm and was beautiful inside and out. She grew up in a war zone, not that you would ever know, and later in life helped so many people in desperate situations. Emotionally strong, a well known humanitarian, recognised by UNICEF for her work, but most of all was always her true self, letting her personality shine through. I love her quote “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”