Anne Schaal, managing director of Southeast Asia and Australia, A. Lange & Söhne: “We need to be the perfect fit for the role we aspire to have and not the one we hold.”

Anne Schaal - International Womens Day

In the first of our nine-part series, Anne Schaal, managing director of A. Lange & Söhne’s Southeast Asian and Australian divisions pens a letter to remind women to own their achievements proudly – the first step in successfully breaking the glass ceiling

To my fellow ladies in the workforce,

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking”.

On the rare occasion that a female voice greets me with that sentence, especially when on board an Airbus A380, I am overwhelmed with a sense of pride. Not that I have anything to do with the pilot’s achievements – and after all, it should not be something special or a question of whether a woman is capable of flying the world’s biggest passenger airplane.

It is however saddening that even in 2019 having a female pilot is a rare exception. Women in charge, especially in traditionally male industries, still provoke raised eyebrows or at least receive surprised looks.

I remember once, when asked what I was doing and my answer was that I represent A. Lange & Söhne in Southeast Asia and Australia, the lady who had asked me added: “So you do marketing?” Let’s face it – as long as we women don’t believe that we and other members of our sex can succeed, nobody will.

In order to do, so we have to act against our very upbringing. As little girls we were rewarded for being nice, helping others, being modest and striving for perfection. In short, we suffer from the disease to please. And while that’s perfectly acceptable in our private lives, it has to stop in the workplace.

We need to start claiming our own accomplishments by using the word ‘I’. This has nothing to do with bragging, but it means getting credit for the work we do. And even more importantly, we have to stop all physical and verbal minimising behaviours like, “This might not be important, but…”, “I’m not sure, but…” immediately.

Furthermore, we need to not only excel at our current jobs but also develop expertise beyond them. We need to be the perfect fit for the role we aspire to have and not the one we hold. Lastly but most importantly: we are not on our own in the office. Without a network we are nobody and will not get anywhere. Let’s be mentors to the young pleasers out there and break the glass ceiling together.

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