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Radiate optimism says Oracles Cath Hodgson-Croker

Radiate optimism says Oracle's Cath Hodgson-Croker

As a female business leader, Cath Hodgson-Croker is often asked by younger team members - how did you achieve the role you have today? Here is what Oracle's Vice President for Business Development Group & Mid-Market Marketing APAC advises.


"I am sorry to reveal that there is no quick formula that is easy to follow. What you may value and want today, will be very different to what you care about and want in the future. Your business career and aspirations will shift and change over time.

"But what I do have are some life experiences to share, which I trust will help you navigate your own path. In keeping it simple, it comes down to 3 Rs."

Resilience

"I’ve always worked hard. I come from a family of hard workers. I like putting the miles in, as I know there are good rewards at the end. But sometimes there are not. Sometimes you can be working your little heart out, and you missed 'it'.

"A manager once told me, after being really exhausted from executing a major project that: “You are like a girl scout, Cath. Always executing…but missing the bigger picture”. I cried quietly in my hotel room after that feedback. This insight made it abundantly clear to me that due to upcoming organizational changes, a promotional goal that I had been aspiring to achieve, was no longer on the table. By working so hard, I had missed what the business was really looking for. I had not looked for innovation, and I had not forged the relationships I needed to build for my next step.

"Luckily, I took a deep breath. I thought about new opportunities for the business and approached my personal disappointment from a new angle. I gave up on the goal I had targeted for what felt like “forever”, and recognized that there were other paths.

"Instead I thought about another leader’s advice - “Cath, in chaos, there is opportunity”. I kept that mantra as I carefully planned and taught myself a new skill set. Within one year of that 'moment' in my hotel room, I achieved my promotional goal and a major intercompany business award. It taught me just how resilient I could be."

Relationships

"I also realized that I had missed a trick in the way I developed relationships. It is easier to have working relationships early in your career especially when there are many other women with you on the same journey. But for different reasons, a number of my female co-workers opted to not go on with their careers. So mid-way in senior leadership, I found myself alone. As one of my male colleague pointed out - “Cath, how does it feel to be the last woman standing in the room?” I danced around the answer, but in my heart, I was genuinely lonely.

"Today, I try to make a conscious effort to develop relationships across the whole organization. It is easy to seek out other women quickly, as 20% of us are “still standing”. So I always enjoy the comradery that comes from working with other women.

"And at the same time, I know I have to consciously make an effort with my male counterparts – take an interest, care, and really forge trusting business relationships. Most recently, I have had the great pleasure of doing so with the head of strategy and CFO at my previous company. These are outstanding male business leaders that I know I could quickly reach out to for solid business/sounding advice. Through building these relationships with work colleagues you not only benefit, but most importantly the business benefits too – and this is where the diversity that comes with having women executives has a lasting impact."

Reading  to stay abreast of change, and be willing to learn something new every day

"I read lots of different books and am conscious of being up to date with technology and market movements. But I have a secret. I cheat.

"I love summaries. And have found an app - BlinkList which gives me a new book every day to read in 15 minutes. Also, online here at Oracle we have Lynda.com. This is another great resource to be up to date on the latest business books and thought processes.

"I also make an effort to teach myself. In a recent role, my sales team sold Facebook business solutions. However, we did not have a local business speaker for the seminars etc. – as it was very new technology. So, I taught myself. I played with the tools, sat with lots of other 20+ year-old social specialists and soaked it up. Did I know it all? Not one bit, but I can now present on it, share stories about how businesses use these tools, open up a conversation and then hand it over to a specialist who can close the deal. But sometimes I still need help when my teens change my phone to B&W instead of colour.

"So, my advice is just be willing to read/learn something new - and relish in it."

Radiate optimism

"There are just way too many naysayers in business and at times, in life. So being able to make things happen with a smile and a laugh - is always a recipe for success.

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