Emerging Leader Spotlight: Chandler Elizabeth Hatton

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing to take the lead in her career. We invite her to share how she achieved her current position, what obstacles she encountered on her climb, as well as tips for how to be a rising woman of influence.

This month we shine the Emerging Leader Spotlight on Chandler Elizabeth Hatton, Chief Technology Officer of SimGas. Chandler is dedicated to making transformative technologies available by developing simple products.

Chandler Hatton, CTO of SimGas
Chandler Hatton, CTO of SimGas

Favorite leadership quote:  “It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think  you look funny on a horse.” —  Adlai E. Stevenson.

What professional accomplishment or result have you achieved in the past year that you are proud of?

One of the most influential moments of my professional career was a few years back, when our company was a bit smaller and we were just gaining traction in East Africa.

Within the space of a few months, our first product to hit the East African market had gone from a CAD model on my computer screen to a commercial product. In that same time, our company had grown from not having a single employee in East Africa to having a local team 25 men and women strong. One afternoon, during a visit to our office in Tanzania, I was called up to the roof deck to join in a celebration. The festivities were organized by the Tanzanian technicians, who were joyfully celebrating the installation of the 200th biogas system. Each of our 25 employees was rejoicing in the company’s success with the very same dedication and enthusiasm that I had felt behind my desk back in Holland.

The past five years have been incredibly dynamic, and last year was no different. In February, we opened a new production facility in East Africa to manufacture components for our second biogas product line. The opening represented the culmination of a strong cooperation with our local joint venture partner as well as with the regional biogas program. As with the 200th installation celebration two years prior, the new facility also signified the commitment and hard work of our growing team.

What is the most important thing you have learned that has been critical to your career success? What key steps did you take to get to the role you are in today?

One of the most important things that I learned early on in my career is the value of developing a vision for yourself and for your organization. A favorite quote of mine is from Adlai E. Stevenson, who said, “It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.”

Your belief in yourself is the foundation upon which the confidence of others is built.

For me, Stevenson’s words reflect not only the need for a strong dose of self-confidence, but also the necessity to seek alignment between your own professional goals and those of your organization. You must engage your team to articulate a tangible vision that everyone stands behind and will fight for.

When I became Chief Technology Officer (CTO), our company had the mission of developing an affordable biogas system and making it available to households in East Africa. This mission was supported by a no-nonsense business plan that underscored the obvious need for our technology and a coherent strategy for roll out. I believed in our product, but I also believed that the company had more to offer than affordable biogas. So I sat down with the founders to develop a shared vision for the organization. In doing so, I defined my own role and set strategic goals that I could see myself moving towards in the years to come.

What advice would you give to other women who aspire to advance into a C-level leadership or senior technical role?

As a young American woman in the role of CTO at an engineering and production company based in Europe with operations in Africa, I’ve become accustomed to being the proverbial sore thumb. And there is a lot to be said for being different. If you’re aware of how you present yourself and how you convey your agenda, then your differences can provide much-needed impulse, provoke conversations and push boundaries within your organization and your field at large.

Know your strengths and make them count. But more importantly, know what makes you stand out and make those differences work for you.

Connect with Chandler on LinkedIn.

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Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is CEO of leadership development, consulting and research firm Be Leaderly. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

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