Blessed Are You for Making Me a Woman
Ever since I can remember myself as a child, I have always chosen to be active. I combined numerous tasks with great pleasure – music studies, swimming, youth movement, school work, and, later in life- relationships and family as well.
During the past decade I have steered the communications field at Strauss. In an age when people talk about diversity and inclusion, and particularly about equal opportunities and gender balance, I choose to cherish and be thankful for precisely the qualities that I have been granted as a woman. The same qualities which, in my view, enabled me to combine family life and career, while creating a new field of expertise in the company and turning it into an important core competency.
My story began ten years ago, on a day that I remember like yesterday. Shortly before the merger between Strauss and Elite, I was given the opportunity to establish a new domain that had not existed at Strauss until then – build a unit from the ground up, which would be responsible for formulating a communication strategy for the Group and for overall management of relations with our key stakeholders. Since I didn’t have significant experience in Communications, you could say that my colleagues “gambled” that I would rise to the challenge, knowing my commitment, results and keen-to-learn mindset.
The offer came at a challenging time, when two of my three children were still very young, and on top of that, as a resident of Northern Israel it would force me to change my office location from Nahariya to Ramat Gan (a long daily commute). The offer came on the eve of the merger between Strauss and Elite – those extremely demanding and fascinating days when the team leading this significant change was working late into the night – I knew I had earned a great opportunity for learning and opportunities should be seized.
Back then, various communication concepts were still unfamiliar to the Israeli market, and many managers didn’t understand the need and importance of managing changes based on and supported by orderly communication processes. There was still no benchmark to learn from. This required a combination of vision, optimism, commitment, patience, flexibility and hard work in order to create a new discipline in the company.
I understood that creating a change was like a journey, but I marked a goal for myself to formulate a role which features professional organizational capabilities that will become significant in future decision-making in the company. My intention was to build a communications unit that would accompany all processes taking place in the company, lead forward-thinking sessions with managers regarding our relations with stakeholders in order to ensure continuous and responsible dialogue with them, and establish value-generating communication processes based on best global practices and standards. Despite the fact that tables in our conference rooms were always set with candy, the road I took wasn’t always that sweet and simple. Every leg of my journey toward self-fulfillment presented new challenges – I had to generate added value, provide service, contain everything, always be hands-on, and at the same time, always put others first. However, ten years later, I can say with great satisfaction that the communications discipline continues to develop as a strategically-valuable domain for the organization.
I grew within a company which itself generated tremendous growth over the past two decades and I feel that this journey keeps enriching and teaching all those involved, including me.
Using the tools in hand, I was given the opportunity to build some fascinating processes, work for a company that enables me to combine family and career as a woman, develop my capabilities, and create the next vision for my field of activity every day anew.
As years went by, my house evolved as well and my children grew up. Attending to all fronts wasn’t always easy, and reality shows us that every achievement comes with a price: Integration of career and family life requires the cooperation of all members of the family. However, I believe that such integration enriches us and contributes to both the family and the workplace, because women who learn how to address several fronts become better, more empathetic managers, who understood that achievements are built through collaborations.
I believe that opportunities for self-fulfillment are always there, and I hope that in order to exploit them, more and more women will believe in their own ability, unique style to lead, and dare to choose a way which may not always be easy, but is certainly enriching. I also hope that more companies and leaders will work to give more women an equal opportunity while placing them in powerful positions.