Be Leaderly Spotlight: Selena Rezvani

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We’re thrilled to welcome Selena Rezvani to the Be Leaderly team, and to her new role as Vice President, Consulting and Research, where she will architect and oversee global consulting projects focused on creating workplace cultures that better attract, retain and develop women employees. Selena will also lead our research division, which focuses on uncovering pressing trends facing professional women and creating custom research for clients.

Favorite Quote:

“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” —JK Rowling

Why did you choose your current career path?

Management consulting, which is where I’ve built my career, is the ultimate in gratifying, *un-boring* work.  I’ve always been interested in learning how different businesses tick – and liked staring down a meaty problem. But it wasn’t until I discovered a specific niche in consulting – “employee experience” – that I really found my sweet spot.  Employee experience is so interesting because it represents the sum of the perceptions employees have about their organization, their culture, and their leaders.  Focusing this consulting niche even further, on the experience of women professionals, connected a deep passion of mine with a growing, timely need in organizations.

Can you say more about why focusing on the experience of professional women is important?

I think at this point, we all know that women don’t have equal representation in corporate roles that come with formal, unambiguous power.  Getting to gender-balanced leadership (or something like it) is one of the undisputed challenges of the modern workplace. It relies on companies getting savvy about what makes women want to stay and to really contribute their best thinking, and at the same time requires women to see enough of a win – and sense of belonging – that they want to keep climbing.

Having fewer women at the top cuts down our input into decision-making and reduces companies’ collective intelligence.  But it can also act as a kind of dream-killer for those coming up.  For lots of women, they want to “see it to believe it”.  If they look up and see few women at the top, they may opt out of their leadership aspiration thinking it’s unrealistic.  In my new role, I’m especially excited to lead consulting and research programs where women are part of solving the very problems that we uncover.  Their expertise has been overlooked in the past – but what’s exciting is that we’re making them co-consultants in finding solutions.

What are well intentioned companies getting wrong?

You can’t improve what you don’t measure.  And for lots of companies, they’re aiming to better attract, retain and develop women and yet they don’t have any data insight to form a baseline for change.  Getting that baseline insight, through say a quantitative survey, is a really important barometer for progress.

Companies might also be doing one inclusive practice extraordinarily well (like recruiting women) but completely miss that they’re under-developing women from a leadership standpoint or failing to flex to women’s personal lives.  It can be a painful waste of time to invest in one area without assessing the entire employee life cycle to see if your actions are the right ones, or if they’re really paying off.

What’s been your favorite tool for finding your own voice?

I’m a recovering “good girl” for sure.  While I’ve always had more ambition than I knew what to do with, I’ve also felt constant pangs of conditioning that didn’t really serve me.  I’ve avoided asking for what I wanted, heard myself over-apologize, and generally felt pressure to be agreeable when I didn’t want to be.

Discovering negotiation, not so much as a once-a-year skill, but an everyday skill, was really transformative for me.  I started to realize negotiating is actually a highly constructive, action-oriented form of conversation – and it really gave me wings.   In practicing negotiating, I asked for more of what I wanted, raised my hand for more exciting opportunities (at work and at home), even negotiated for jobs that didn’t yet exist.  I felt so strongly about it in fact, I wrote a book about how women can learn to negotiate and get more of the work and life conditions they want.  Once you learn the system, you see that everything is a negotiation.

Last but not least, what’s your go-to song for boosting your confidence?

“This girl is on fire” by Alicia Keys.

Connect with Selena via email, on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Angie Klein

As Operations and Marketing Manager, Angie Klein is responsible for maintaining the day to day operations of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc. and Be Leaderly.com. Angie manages all aspects of training program logistics, registrations, SEO, social media engagement and customer service.

Follow @kleina2012 on Twitter.

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