Next in our Transformation series, Kimberley Cole talks with Amii Barnard-Bahn and Diana Wu-David about career transformation and what they see as key for taking charge of your own career progression.
Amii Barnard-Bahn is a former Fortune Global 50 executive. Amii previously shaped company culture strategic initiatives across multiple roles in the C suite, including as Chief Compliance Officer at companies such as McKesson, and Allianz. Amii is now an executive coach, strategic advisor, keynote speaker and author who specializes in accelerating the success of compliance and legal executives, a lifelong diversity advocate, Amii testified for the successful passage of California and Washington State first laws in the US requiring corporate boards to include women.
Diana Wu-David is a futurist and former Financial Times executive. Diana is now an author, speaker, advisor and educator. She’s an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School’s EMBA global Asia program and runs her own Future Proof courses. Diana is passionate about encouraging and empowering individuals, businesses and boards within Asia and beyond to master the capacities that they need for inspiring futures that matter.
03:14 Career Journeys
15:01 Transformation Opportunities
24:36 Future Proof
29:17 The Promotability Index
30:53 What Risky Women Should Do
40:24 Impact of Women on Boards
46:28 Rants & Revelations
54:36 Rapid Fire Round
People really need to take an attitude of radical self reliance right now with regard to careers. And companies need to recognize that the contracts been broken for a long time, in terms of what can be expected in the relationship. – Amii Barnard-Bahn
Post-COVID what we’re seeing across the board is that people are tired and board directors now have accelerated succession planning. – Diana Wu-David
The Promotability Index
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Future Proof: Reinventing Work in an Age of Acceleration
Be more entrepreneurial, resilient and impactful in the face of constant changeLearn more
Kimberley Cole 0:01
This is Risky Women Radio – a show to connect, celebrate and champion women in risk, regulation, and compliance. Sharing insight and perspectives from the most influential members of our global Risky women network on the latest developments, we need to think about, the challenges we should all talk more about and the innovation we are most excited about governance, risk, and compliance. Bringing together the hundreds of senior women professionals already connected with a new emerging group of leading women and men. I’m Kimberley Cole, your chief risky woman.
Kimberley Cole 0:39
Welcome to Risky Women Radio. Today’s risky women are Diana David and Amii Barnard-Bahn. And we are thrilled to have them with us and join to bring new perspectives as we continue to look at transformation for this series. This series is supported by Protiviti. So during this episode, we’re going to look at transformation and reinvention. We’ll talk about the risks and most importantly, the opportunities for all of us in transformation. In an age of acceleration, risk and disruption is increasing in the system, at government, at company level and for individuals and that we would say requires more agency or risk management of one’s career. Amii and Diana are uniquely positioned as board behavior analysts and top coach in risk compliance respectively. And they’ve researched and delved deep into the ways that individuals can navigate change and uncertainty with their books and programs on Future Proof and the Promotability Index. So we’re in for a treat with some great insights on what we can all do. From the author of Future Proof Reinventing Work. We have Diana David who is a futurist and former Financial Times executive. Diana is now an author, speaker, advisor and educator. She’s an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School’s EMBA global Asia program and runs her own Future Proof courses. Diana is passionate about encouraging and empowering individuals, businesses and boards within Asia and beyond to master the capacities that they need for inspiring futures that matter. Welcome, Diana.
Diana Wu-David 2:14
Thank you, Kimberley.
Kimberley Cole 2:15
Amii is a former Fortune Global 50 executive. Amii previously shaped company culture strategic initiatives across multiple roles in the C suite, including as Chief Compliance Officer at companies such as McKesson, and Allianz. Amii is now an executive coach, strategic advisor, keynote speaker and author who specializes in accelerating the success of compliance and legal executives, a lifelong diversity advocate, Amii testified for the successful passage of California and Washington State first laws in the US requiring corporate boards to include women. So I’m super excited to have you both join Risky Women Radio today.
Amii Barnard-Bahn 2:58
Thank you, Kimberley, happy to be here. Thank you.
Kimberley Cole 3:01
So let’s kick off with your career journeys, because I’ve given a very brief bio, but I would love to hear in your words, your journey today and how you’ve got to where you are. So should we start with Amii.
Amii Barnard-Bahn 3:14
Happy to. I started as a lawyer working in a law firm, but also doing some public interest work. I was had a fellowship with ACLU when I was at Georgetown, working on disability rights and helped lobby through the Americans With Disabilities Act, which at the time was pretty watershed legislation. And that was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had in my life. But then I realized I needed to pay off all those fabulous student loans. And so I went to work for a law firm. And it got me out to California where I had wanted to be I had grown up in the northeast my whole life and thought something different would be a good change at that time. And worked at a firm for about three years and realized I hated it. It was excellent training and practice. I second chaired a jury trial my second year out I did plaintiff and defense work, which is quite unusual. And I got to hone employment law best practices and see mistakes on both sides, both from an employer and an employee standpoint. And I never could have known how I would use that later. But it turns out it was extremely valuable experience. And then I did something which for me was crazy. And I quit my job with no plan. And I’d never done anything like that before I was a Type A I always had a plan. And that also was one of the riskiest, but smartest things I’ve ever done because now it doesn’t scare me anymore. And I did it at a time when I didn’t have a mortgage and I didn’t have kids and later it can be harder right to do that. And I also learned to separate who I was from my identity in my job. I had underestimated how much ego was tied up in being an attorney. And it was a humbling experience to go through that and then become an HR person, which like it or not, it was not as well respected. And all I had to do is, when someone asks you, when you were out with people kind of learned there, the reaction was quite different. And that was that was really interesting to experience. And then, over time, found my way into HR, loved it, and worked my way up into various companies, Allianz, and then McKesson, and then into compliance ethics and back into the law, which I thought I’d left forever. So that was another lesson that you kind of, you know that things aren’t linear, and you, you may think you’re leaving something. And you may realize, oh, there’s that skill from seven years ago. That’s actually interesting, again, to me now, because I have this new purpose. And so it’s been a wonderfully integrative experience, Kimberley and a real journey. And now as a coach, in my major executive roles, I always had an executive coach. And so I went back to school and got my certification, and then have tried to integrate all my work with one on one clients, and then my systemic work with teams. And then larger systems like changing the law, and testifying for women on boards and some other diversity and pay equity decisions. So it’s been wonderful to have the law degree for that, and the HR experience as well.
Kimberley Cole 6:23
There’s so many things that I’d love to dig in there as we go through, especially the status of jobs. That’s really interesting. Your identity and your job that’s really interesting. And obviously, that was one of the things I was going to ask was what was the biggest risk you’ve taken. So that’s interesting, quitting with no plan. But Diana, let’s hear about your career journey, which is also fascinating.
Diana Wu-David 6:46
Well, it’s interesting to sort of follow on from Amii, who I know, as a colleague and friend, and see some of the parallels because I started out focused on, you know, international relations, I worked for Dr. Henry Kissinger, in New York, right out of college, in his consulting practice, and then went to business school, at Columbia Business School in New York, and then went into management consulting, so it was sort of a similar, you know, do all the right things, go to a good school, get the job that everybody wants. And likewise, consulting, I went into management consulting after business school for two years. And I was the youngest person, I think, almost the youngest person in my business school to graduate. And so part of it was a sort of business finishing school, I didn’t feel like I knew much. And it gave me so many great windows on how decisions were made at the strategic end, and yet I wasn’t very happy there. And so my first risky move was to quit my job and move to Asia. And I had applied for a prestigious Henry Luce foundation fellowship. And so it was not, you know, it was a nice segue way, I had an identity to go to, oh, I’m going to Asia. But even my consulting partner said, should I, you know, console you or congratulate you that you’re that you’re going off to Asia, and I thought that was a that was a number of people said that? And I said, How could you even think that I’m going on an adventure, and that was in 1999. And so that’s become the last 20 years of my life since I’m still here in Hong Kong. And since that time, I was hired into management consulting as the gal who knew something about the internet, when none of the partners did, you know, in 99, and I had new Second Life. And I worked for Time Warner in my summer MBA internship, and has spent the last 20 years really on all sides of the disruptor disrupted continuum, moving to Asia, to work for internet world, which was a super high growth venture. And then here, going from that to startups and venture capital, and ultimately working for the Financial Times, which was 125 plus year old startup, which was trying to disrupt itself in many ways. So my career has been in many different sides of the equation, largely around tech media and Telecom. And 2016. I decided to leave my corporate job and that was the second risky move. And that I think, is it’s not about the identity per se of being an attorney. For me. I was a regional director at a business, a large corporate, but it was a brand so it’s that sense of Oh, everybody knows where you work, everybody’s heard of that. And then you go to your own company or whatever it is that you do. And that was so difficult. I still work for the Financial Times, I started up their non executive directors program, their board director programs, as one of many of my corporate entrepreneur initiatives. And I still am had a faculty there. So I still am in that orbit. And that was a helpful segue to a certain extent. But that experience led me to write Future Proof: Reinventing Work in the Age of Acceleration. And to actually help in my Future Proof course, my signature course, people who are going through those transitions, because what I found in my research was really that that is one of the hardest things to do, that kind of companies are declining, lifespans are declining, and our lifespans are increasing, you’re gonna go through that, you’re either going to initiate it because you want something new, or it’s going to happen to you by somebody else’s initiative. And being able to navigate change is incredibly powerful as an individual. So I work with individuals, but then I also work and produce courses and work with companies to help them figure out what their future of work is, and to help their people inside as they figure out how to resource them well, to be more resilient.
Kimberley Cole 11:29
Yeah, and I would definitely want to dig into all of those areas a bit more. And I think it’s interesting. I mean, both of you took some of those risks, like quitting your job leaving well known companies, well known roles. So what are the kind of key things you think that those changes taught you, and that planned versus maybe more opportunistic opportunities that other people should think about when they’re thinking about their career journeys.
Amii Barnard-Bahn 11:58
For me, it’s just that it’s not a linear process. And it can be really fun to be self authoring. And sometimes, the only way to do that is just to take a big leap. Because there’s a lot of science around, although well intentioned, if you stay in the same group, they’re actually going to be changed resistors for you, and that you have to actually leave your circle if you truly want to make a big leap. And so, I would say that that’s the opportunity.
Diana Wu-David 12:28
Totally agree, Amii about the circle, because what I’ve found is, a lot of executives in my community are trying to go from often incredible success to something that is more significant for them. And while some of them are, you know, burn the boats, I’m leaving, and I’m going to do the thing I always wanted to do, a lot of them are in the experimental phase where they want to try out ideas with a group that’s not already invested in their current success. And so when they say, I think I might want to scale down my executive role and start to look for boards, there are a lot of people in your life who are going to say, you know, what, why would you do that you have something good here, why give it up. And so my feeling is that, that what I learned is that that community, having a community of people who can challenge you, and really be there as you do a transition is super important. And it’s a make or break thing, because people don’t like change, it’s hard enough to do it yourself. But if you’re surrounded by people invested in the past, it’ll be that much harder.
Amii Barnard-Bahn 13:48
And most of our existing circle are invested in who we currently are. It’s, I don’t think it’s talked about much, it’s below the surface, but they’re very invested in this in the status quo. And that means us not changing. I think, particularly family are unfortunately, the worst violators, but for the best of intentions, they’re afraid for us, they’re comfortable with the way things are. And so I think that’s where you need to look outside your circle, I personally find that really exciting. It can be disappointing at times, too, because sometimes the people you really need to see yeah for it just can’t, they just can’t be that person for you. And so you have to then be aware enough to realize, okay, that’s just where they are is nothing personal. And it doesn’t mean this isn’t a good decision. So I need to find that support outside.
Kimberley Cole 14:38
So let’s look at the transformation opportunity. Now. I mean, you’ve both done a lot of research, maybe Can you sort of start with what’s the state of play that you’re saying? You speak to lots of executives through your coaching, and lots of different businesses and one of those trends that you’re saying in careers in work just in our lives, I guess more generally from that perspective,
Diana Wu-David 15:01
Well, I spend most of my time talking about the future of work trends and vision. And just yesterday was doing something for post-COVID boards and board directors. And I think that you know, across the board, really, it’s that people are tired. And that we were talking about CEO succession planning, and how board directors now have accelerated that. Because through this period, a lot of top management have been really operating on all cylinders, and really just having to just bring their A game every single day, day after day. And so what I see is people are quite tired, and also that people are thinking about the things that they always wanted to do, but didn’t allow themselves to do because it seemed impossible, you know, we were all in our routines were like, get on the airplane fly to this place. And now with the routines disrupted, there is more opportunity to think differently. But also, with the high toll that COVID has taken, people have re-centered on what’s important to them outside of work, and inside of work, and really begin to reassess how they want to spend their time. And so those are the big things I’ve seen.
Amii Barnard-Bahn 16:26
And just to add on to what Diana has said, I’ve seen three areas social, environmental, and cultural in terms of the focus. And I recently did a piece for Harvard Business Review around those topics for social people who’ve had so much time to think about purpose and to think about whether they’re really doing what they want to be doing. And that’s so critical for Gen Z, they really have an expectation, and I have two teenage daughters. And it’s remarkable to see the change, as opposed to my Gen X expectations of what a job and a career could do for me, environmentally, we have, you know, a labor shortage and a number of areas and jobs that people just don’t want to go back to restaurants being prominently featured lately for their poor working conditions, and how they’ve struggled and worked so hard through the pandemic on off open closed health care workers, of course, as well, the frontline. But then we have the positives of the ability to hire remote talent. And so for companies that have wanted diversity, or that have been at a disadvantage from a labor standpoint, in terms of labor market, and I went into this a lot when I was a Chief Human Resource Officer, living in areas that were not diverse, that’s been an incredible benefit if companies have taken advantage of and then culturally, we’ve lived through me to Black Lives Matter, childcare issues, work from home, which previously was not available, which can be a huge benefit to women. But then there’s also been the issues of childcare school closures, and the eldercare, and childcare responsibilities still falling primarily to women. And a lot of women just opting out based on exhaustion. And I worry a lot when I’ve talked recently about proximity bias. I was asked earlier this week, if women do get the permission to work from home permanently, is that going to damage their chances of promote ability given proximity bias? So that is something very much on my mind right now.
Kimberley Cole 18:30
Yeah, that’s very interesting, actually an interesting trends that I think everyone can relate to. So when we’re thinking sort of about transformation, how would you define it? And what’s some of the ways that you’ve looked at transformation, reinvention, transition, all of those kinds of things and what you’re seeing in people’s careers?
Amii Barnard-Bahn 18:53
I feel like people really need to take an attitude of radical self reliance right now with regard to careers. And companies need to recognize that the contracts been broken for a long time, in terms of what can be expected in the relationship. And as one of my mentors put it, the most we should really ask is that when you’re here, and you’re working for us, you’re giving us the best you can. And then that’s not for any particularly defined period. And as long as you’re getting what you need, and we’re getting what we need. That’s the way the relationship is. And so the challenge of that I think, for individuals, is that it definitely puts the onus on the individual to stay relevant to be constantly learning and have a learner mindset. Because I worry a bit about the degree to which people may be expendable in the future. And I’m not just talking about AI but of course there are jobs, I can’t remember the study but there was something so that for kindergarteners a very high percentage of jobs haven’t even been invented yet. And the other statistic that I think about a lot is that hard skills and technical knowledge, now only have a lifespan of about four to six years, which for risk professionals and lawyers and technical experts that have in the past relied on their credentials, and their current knowledge of issues and regulatory, that has, I think, special meaning for us in terms of the other skills that we need to develop around soft skills and leadership and a lot of what Diana and I both support our clients with.
Kimberley Cole 20:34
So I love that radical self reliance and constant learning. Very, very important.
Diana Wu-David 20:40
Yeah, I think that people are really nervous about that. Because there’s an idea of being in perpetual beta, you’re never quite finished. And so sometimes people look at that and say, that sounds exhausting. Why would I go there? You know, and I think that one of the things that was transformative for me leaving my full time corporate role and going into initially a sabbatical, and then a portfolio career was this shock that you could do that. And then in a way that was really, Amii talked about self authoring, the technology, and the remote work, all things that have been accelerated by COVID really are possible. So being able to travel around the world be anywhere, do online courses, be able to be on a podcast, have weekly meetings, and even more asynchronous communications with my FT team, all those things. Were so easy in 2016, when I stopped going to work every day. And I think that that makes me feel really positive. And one of the things that I want to do is make it easier for people to do that. That’s a big part of my work, but also to paint the vision of a future of work. That is exciting, that allows you to not do the same thing every day to actually connect to people and follow your interests and your passions. And I see it as this mosaic and Amii’s career to a certain extent, and mine as well. It started out maybe with some different pieces. And the picture that it looked like went in the very beginning, maybe was different than it looks now. But all of those pieces from all of your career in your life, ultimately, make a bigger picture. And they’re all starting to come back into this larger picture of who you become. So if you think about it, from that perspective, to me, it’s exciting. Whereas I think where we are right now is this fear based, we’re gonna be fired, we’re expendable, we have to learn there’s like 10,000 things to learn, and where do we start, and the people that I’ve seen that, embrace it, and I did 100 interviews with people who seem to be having a lot more fun, and growing and excited. And that was the constant theme is that they were constantly learning, they were always putting the pieces back together in a new way, a different kaleidoscope. And it was really exciting for them. So that’s that that’s the promise of transformation.
Amii Barnard-Bahn 23:22
And there’s a physical element to that I find exciting, as well, I know, Diana, I studied probably as well as around neurology, when we are learning something new, our brain center literally lights up, we literally create new neural pathways. And it’s a way of staying alive, quite literally, when we’re doing rote tasks, the brains that are is flat, or it goes dark. Now, look, if we did new tasks all the time, we would run ourselves into the ground. And so I’m not suggesting that, you know, you could do that 100% of the time. But if you’re doing you know, 50, 60, 70%, you’re growing learning, it’s literally life affirming, to learn new stuff, and to get yourself out of your challenge zone. And you learn faster and more rapidly, the bigger the change, and the shift is.
Kimberley Cole 24:10
So lots of opportunity in transformation risks as well, if you’re not thinking that way. And I love that concept of this sort of mosaic and that vision is fantastic. Diana, tell us more about you’ve written an entire book on Future Proof. So tell us a bit more about how individuals should be thinking about making them, you know, future proof. And what does success look like?
Diana Wu-David 24:36
Well, I would say that I just spoke to somebody in our Future Proof community interviewing her and I was asking her what the difference was between before and after. And she said, I’m in the driver’s seat. And I thought that was a really good metaphor for what you’re trying to do. So radical self reliance, is also a good metaphor. Because truly that is the shift in the workplace that is taken place where if we don’t have a job for life, if there isn’t a track, if we’re living longer, then all of a sudden we’re in charge of our own professional narrative. And we’re in charge of our own reinvention. We don’t have mommy and daddy corporation to tell us what the career ladder is, and what the progression is, and what rating on the performance review you have to get in order to go and so to plug Amii’s Promotability Index, when I saw that, and when she wrote that book, I thought, Oh my God, this is it. Because this is something that allows you to have conversations about a ladder that no longer exists, and how we can go up and to a certain extent, future proof is a bit like that to where it talks to you about, okay, don’t burn the boats. If it you know, a lot of people aren’t ready to just go out there. And if they are, they’re probably not in need of reading my book. But it’s the people who want to but don’t know where to start. And so I go through the idea of experiment, reinvent, collaborate and focus, because those, when I wrote the book, were the big future of work skills that I identified. And I still think that they’re more important than ever. So building up a muscle of experimentation, you don’t have to quit your job. So a lot of people who can find small bets and ways to go outside of their comfort zone, start to build that muscle. So for example, I remember when in 2016, I decided to do a children’s book. And I always wanted to write a book, I never really wanted to write a children’s book. But it was an opportunity that came my way. And I thought it was in my TED talk, I talked about the death of my friend and all the things we never did, because we were too busy doing the things we should do. And her death really woke me up to the fact that I needed to do these things. So the experimentation was just to do a children’s book, it was based in Hong Kong, and it was a small thing. And it was a great experiment. And it just taught me a lot. And it allowed me to go outside my comfort zone and become an author. And that was many years ago, longer than 2016. That was I think, 10 years ago, and now it’s sold 20,000 copies. And when I have been introduced to the head of Hong Kong, the chief executive, it’s not my financial times work. It’s not, you know, my work in the community. They’re like, She’s the author of Hong Kong ABCs. So you never know where those things are gonna pop up again. But that’s just a small example of how do you think about something you might want to do? And how do you take a small bet on it. And then reinvention is about the idea of really thinking about adjacencies not being locked into, I’m an attorney, or I’m a business executive and media, and how you can start to shift really going from a career mindset to a value proposition mindset. And then collaborative courses, all of us being able to form teams to do new projects, because I feel that’s the vision of the future of work in the future, both inside companies, as well as outside companies. And if I was really smart, I would have started like, slack with that vision. But instead, I just read books. And then focus because self management has become a huge issue, you know, being able to prioritize, being able to figure out what we want to focus on and carving out the time and the work to do that. So all of these things were in 2019 groundbreaking and then COVID came and and now everybody is really in the thick of it, it accelerated the change that I saw by 10 years.
Kimberley Cole 29:02
Amazing. And Amii, Diana already mentioned, the Promotability Index. So tell us more about your study and your work on that and how we prevent ourselves becoming expendable. They’re too heavy, too.
Amii Barnard-Bahn 29:17
We talked a little bit about radical self reliance, and why that’s so important right now. And I think one of the healthiest things you can do for your career is to focus on what you can control, especially right now, there’s a lot that we could really go down a deep dark hole and never come out in terms of things that are out of our control. That’s not helpful. So let’s not do that. And achieving an exceptional career really does require some advanced planning and investing in yourself and self management, as Diana just mentioned. So the leadership tool that I started with was an assessment of 82 questions for free. I just made it available to anyone and it is an assessment that anyone really can take along any point in their career, any interest Free anywhere all the way up to the C suite and beyond to use it. And then now the guidebook to discover how you stack up against these five elements that I know are used behind closed doors in the room where it happens in terms of promotions, and who gets to continue, who gets supported, who doesn’t. And the five elements of the pie are really what key decision makers use when deciding who to invest in and who to promote. So that’s why I did it. And it’s been fun and based on my years as a global 50, executive, and being in those rooms, the elements are self awareness, external awareness, strategic thinking, executive presence, and thought leadership.
Kimberley Cole 30:40
Well, we’ll all have to read, and you specifically focus on compliance and legal professionals. And so what’s unique that, you know, our risky women should be thinking about?
Amii Barnard-Bahn 30:53
Yeah, it’s a passion of mine, particularly to help governance and what I would call gatekeeping. Professionals for many reasons, both because I’ve had the roles I know how challenging they are, and how usually under resourced, and often unappreciated, they are, and yet, usually last thanked first blamed when something nasty happens. And so I instinctively pay special attention to them. And I’m including HR as well, which is equally vulnerable in many ways. And I can say that having been both a CCO and a CHR and a general counsel. And I feel that those three functions all work together to build the infrastructure, and the rewards and recognition system for companies that really underlie the corporate culture, which is so critical. And we know that companies that have healthy workplace cultures produce better business results, and are happier places to work. So to your question around, you know, what are things that I see that might be helpful to risk professionals in general, I mentioned two things, because these are things that I work with my clients quite frequently on. One issue that I see a times with risk professionals, as quite natural. When you think about it, we’ve talked about it a bit, but is they over index on their credentials at the expense of their relationships. And they don’t realize that at a certain point in your career, and I wrote in a recent HBR article on this, that the ability to do their job and their skills, and their credentials are the table stakes. And if they’re already good at their job, now it completely flips. And it’s absolutely all about your relationships, and how you manage yourself, and how you influence your stakeholders, and how you share your thought leadership and all the other areas that are in the motability index. So knowledge workers, doctors, it people, lawyers, risk professionals, I would say ten to two have a higher risk based on my coaching practice of under indexing, as opposed to people who already know that relationships are critical, such as sales, marketing, that’s how their breads been buttered for quite some time. So they’re actually an advantage in that sense. The second area that I see for risk professionals, is sometimes a lack of appreciation on how we use our governance power. And I sometimes get a surprise reaction from risk professionals because they say power? We’re constantly fighting for resources and getting someone to listen to something that we’re concerned about in terms of our board reporting. But we do have governance power, we have a dotted line to the board, depending on what country and what regs you’re in. And I wrote an article for Fast Company around how to deliver bad news without shooting the messenger. And there’s a lot of neuroscience around being tagged in a negative light, when you are the person delivering bad news. And like it or not, all of us in gatekeeping roles, again, legal, HR, compliance, audit, are often in a position where we have to say something that other people don’t really want to hear whether it’s slowing down a project or doing an extra audit, or a health check or a safety check. And so it’s important to know how to navigate that gracefully, and to understand the neuroscience behind it, because truly, it’s nothing personal. It’s just unfortunately, how we’re built as human beings. We just felt like bad news delivers. And so I coach with my clients around how to leverage that and not have political backlash, but be able to do their jobs effectively, and help their companies do the right thing. So they’re sustainable.
Kimberley Cole 34:29
Excellent. So I think I mean, both of you have obviously written a whole lot of different articles that I recommend everyone goes onto your websites and reads, and has a look at if we were going to capture all of these kind of messages and all of the things that you think are areas that we should be thinking about and you are going to look at a particular leader that you know, you admire who you think really embodies some of these, and that shows some of the things that we could learn from who who would you pick and maybe start with Diana?
Diana Wu-David 35:02
I was really thinking about that question because a lot of the leaders that I was thinking about to begin with were really people in the trenches, they are not necessarily, you know, the Hubert Joly, who’s going on about purpose and is sort of like using their platforms for good. A lot of the leaders that I admire are the people in my MBA class who are really, who’ve gone through the interpersonal dynamics course, and are really in the trenches trying to get better at communicating with other people and, and doing the work of being authentic and vulnerable and humble, and connecting with people. So I think that I would like first to say that there are a lot of people that I admire, that are in that sort of bucket. But the one leader that I have served under that I always admired and wish I could have another leader that was as inspiring was Marjorie Scardino, who is the CEO of Pearson. And the reason that I joined Financial Times, which was owned by Pearson at the time was partly because of her. And I just was so impressed that she created a sense of belonging, and what was a 40,000 person organization. And she was so inspiring. And I still remember our purpose, and our values were Be brave, decent and imaginative. And those three words have transcended my work at that company, to become something that I use as my own metric. And so she was always able to set that sense of culture and a huge organization, but was also really challenging and warm. So when we, you know, she came out to Asia, and we had a dinner with her with this top management in Asia. She was warm, but also incredibly challenging for all the people in the room, you know, really some spicy conversations, which I appreciated. So that would be the leader that I put on a pedestal, in addition to all the leaders that I know that are really working so hard to make things better for their people.
Kimberley Cole 37:29
I love that. That’s fantastic. And what about you, I me,
Amii Barnard-Bahn 37:32
Mine would be justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I had the privilege of meeting her when I was at Georgetown, she came and visited my woman in the law class with the late great Justice Brennan. At the time, she was a circuit court judge the frankly, all the attention was on Justice Brennan, who had done so much for women’s rights in the 70s. I admire her for so many reasons, like Diana alluded to, she was humble, funny, strong. And then I think I appreciate how she appreciated that enduring change happens. One step at a time, she was very thoughtful, and strategic about how she led change in the law, and not getting too far ahead. Because I believe she was aware that that can create a backlash that’s then not sustainable. And she had kind of what’s known as a brick upon brick strategy that ultimately convinced the justices how the legal system which was based on fixed gender stereotypes, at the time was harmful to everyone. And then a couple other things that are really important. Number one, she realized that male allies were absolutely critical for women’s success. A lot of people are familiar with the story that after graduating law school, at the top of her class at Harvard, she couldn’t find a job until a favorite Columbia law professor put her name forward for the highly prized annual clerkship. And the judge refused. So the professor came back and said, if you don’t take her, I will never submit another student to you again. And that’s how she got her first job. She also had a very equal partnership with her husband, who was a beloved professor at Georgetown. And I also knew Marty Ginsburg, and he did all the cooking, and they had kids and they managed to both have these incredible careers. And then a couple other things, I’d say she loved the arts. I’m a big opera lover. So that was just another thing that I appreciate so much, and then related. She appreciated that democracy is about seeking to understand and one of her most vehement opponents from a jurisprudential standpoint on the court, Antonin Justice Antonin Scalia, who rarely agreed with her on and opinion was one of her best friends. And they often had friendly debates and went to the opera together. And I just love that image and I hope to see more of that.
Kimberley Cole 39:59
Yeah. Certainly, she was RBG was major, inspiring for so many. Now you’ve both done a hell of a lot of work on diversity on boards. And I know, Amii, you have done some legal work. But can you both tell us a bit more about what you’ve done? The impact that you think diversity on boards should bring? And I guess, how are we going?
Diana Wu-David 40:24
So let me start with the reason that the Financial Times that I decided to started here in Asia was because of Women on Boards, actually, Angela Mackay and I were at a women on boards session. And then the Hong Kong Exchange started consultation on diversity on boards and their governance code. And, you know, we just looked at each other, and they were changing things to mandate either a third of all directors be independent, which was a big change, opening up, no turn is good for board diversity. So that opened things up. And they were also putting into the governance code, more about diversity specifically, and there was debate over women on boards, other aspects. And yesterday, I was on a webinar with a bunch of folks in Japan about boards. And so that was an interesting conversation. So I have this sort of global view of it. And the last 10 years would say that, we started the board director program, both for women and men. And we decided to opt on being neutral. And from my perspective, I felt like, it was always an opportunity to get women. So sort of my unspoken desire, which of course, I would never say when I was a corporate executive there was to try to get at least 30% women in our course, to be prepared for the board. And also because they would be in with people, men who were already on board, some some of them and so I just felt like that was a good dynamic. And then fast forward 10 years, we didn’t have quotas, we had pretty soft legislation on diversity. And we’ve gone from something like in Hong Kong, what 9% to like, maybe 13, with maybe three of the women in Hong Kong being on most of those boards, which is a it was a pretty like, you could see the S curve, you know, in many countries following that. But because I do futures work with boards, one of the biggest drivers now that I see in diversity is really that boards have gone from moving from stability to ensure sustainability, to agility to prepare for the unexpected. And the single best way to do that is diversity is to have inputs, in terms of board composition, that can give you a more rounded view, more rounded skill sets and perspective of what the possibilities are, what the plausible scenarios and futures are. So that’s my feeling in terms of what can drive diversity going forward, how it happens on the ground, we’re still far away from that. And Amii has been working on this systemic level to really move that forward in the US.
Amii Barnard-Bahn 43:25
We were at about 18% of the Russell 3000. And we hit our goal early, we were 2020. I mean 20% of women on boards by the year 2020. And we actually beat it by a few percentage points, which was nice early in 2019, we had over 20. These are of course only publicly traded boards. And the toughest boards to get diversity on are actually private boards. And so the law does not apply to them. But our hope is that it’ll be an influencer, that customers will also speak up and investors will start questioning. There are some great stories we had more time around boards such as Chanel, which didn’t originally have a woman on it, which is a little hard to think about. When you think about the end customer base Skechers didn’t have a woman on sport for a while either neither did Estee Lauder for a long time. And these are all product companies that pretty much exclusively sell to women. So you have to wonder about innovation and who can really understand the end customer. Again, those are extreme examples, but it’s getting better. To Diana’s point. I agree that the conversation in the boardroom, I think is also around just the health of turnover, which isn’t a gender issue. It’s It’s truly an just having fresh ideas on the board. I think it’s nice to have a balance of historical foundation as well as some new people but I think you know, the board’s role is to support the CEOs vision, it’s ultimately to hire and fire the CEO, right so they need to that’s their ultimate job. in one sentence, and so they ideally support the CEOs vision. And they know when to put the brakes on and ask questions and demand the data to fulfill their fiduciary duties. And then they also know though when to allow the CEO wings, I think for risk, it’s thinking of what are the right risks to take because all of businesses are risk. And so I think the more that women, women prepare them, we’re doing a great job. There’s so many wonderful programs out there now for board development. It’s an exciting time. And I think that there have been some interesting studies, I’m reading them all and taking them in around the degree to which perhaps, women are better at seeing a multiplicity of risks and and analyzing that and seeing that, and the data around profitability. I don’t think it’s completely conclusive yet. But there have been some initial studies, which will be over time as we have better data with more women on boards, we can actually start to measure that Europe in many countries is way ahead of us with 40% 30%, Germany, other countries where it’s been a quota for quite some time. So it’s still baby steps. But it’s it’s exciting to be a part of it.
Kimberley Cole 46:17
I mean, everything you’ve said, the business case is clear. So let’s hope that we keep moving in the right direction. So now on to my favorite section, rants and revelations,
Kimberley Cole 46:28
Connecting, celebrating and championing women in risk regulation and compliance rescue women radio takes an intimate look at the rants and revelations of the top women shaping the debate and of the industry.
Kimberley Cole 46:45
From both of you, what’s your revelation? What’s the lightbulb moment that you had along your journey, something you wish you’d known earlier that you’d like to share as a piece of advice with our listeners?
Amii Barnard-Bahn 46:58
Okay, I would say that I and I, it’s, it’s all embedded throughout the Promotability Index. And that’s the biggest mind blower I’d say for the 20 to 30. Something crowd that I sometimes talk to at Stanford and UC Berkeley Haas where I guest lecture, is the idea that all of the colleagues that are sitting in your room right now that virtual room, or in your company that you are competing with, and you might have lunch with them, but you know, you’re still competing for whatever promotion might come up, that it’s really important to keep in mind that in your 40s and 50s, they’re going to be your boss, they’re going to report to you, they might leave and go to a company that is your number one dream company and you wish maybe that you’d been a little nicer. So you could pick up the phone and have some emotional credit in the bank, to ask for a favor to have them walk your resume over to HR, I’d say Kimberley it’s that perspective. I wish, if I could tell my younger self now, I would have said, You know what, like, you don’t have enough perspective to see that, that this is just where you are right now. And that even though it feels like all these people are competitors, right now they’re going to your relationship is going to morph and change. And the world is a very small place. And so always try to rise above and to be proud of how you act and control what you can control and manage yourself. Well.
Kimberley Cole 48:22
Excellent. And Diana?
Diana Wu-David 48:24
I would say changing tack because I grew up really with the people element, you know, when you talked about sales and marketing knew that there were relationships were important. And I’ve run sales teams and really P&L. So that has been something that I’ve always thought about, I don’t know how or why. But even in my 20s, I knew that that was true. I did an internship in college, and I’m still in touch with my boss then. So that was a, it came from my mother, quite frankly. So that I think is an important thing. And it served me well. So I would say yes, that’s absolutely important. But shifting into the aha moment for me was really, and I think it’s of our time, was knowing that you really shouldn’t settle for the life you’ve been given. Work hard for the one you want. Oh, and that was my aha moment. You know that I wasn’t going to be given a path that I had to do the deep work deciding what my path would be, and taking a risk to make that happen. And it has been so fulfilling.
Kimberley Cole 49:29
Oh, I love that. Very inspiring. So on the other side of it, what’s your rant? But this can be positive too. Like if you were the ruler of the world for the day, what’s that one thing that you’re going to change?
Amii Barnard-Bahn 49:42
One thing that’s irking me a bit lately is all the talk of authenticity. And this probably isn’t going to be popular. So I’ll mentioned it. I think a lot of it’s BS. I think that a culture fit is a thing and I worry at times about the messaging that the next gen, which is my, my kids who are 19, and 16 are getting from Instagram and from all over the place saying, Just be yourself. Number one, that’s selfish, I would say, frankly. And number two, it’s not effective. You do compromise, you compromise to learn you compromise to learn skills, you need to be humble, realizing that you aren’t actually, you know, knowing everything at age 50, even, I’m not trying to pick on just the younger gen, but I see a lot, it just seems to be a buzzword. And I don’t think it’s realistic. There has to be company fit. And there’s always compromise you, especially as a leader, anyone who has managed a team or has been in the C suite, I think would tell you the tremendous sacrifice that you make, potentially with some portion of your individuality. In order to set a good example, you can’t just do everything you want all the time, or say that random thing that pops into your head. And so again, it probably depends on how we define authenticity. But if you take a really literal interpretation of I’m just gonna let it all hang out, and I am who I am. To me, that’s lazy, and that’s not leadership. So that’s my rant.
Diana Wu-David 51:17
Well, I feel like my rants gonna be about your rant now. Because I’m heading into a five day MBA elective that’s on interpersonal dynamics. And authenticity is like one of the segments that we talk about. And I would say that, I hear you. And it’s actually great to hear that reflected. And I agree that that authenticity is defined by just be yourself can be a poor message to send to people, because we don’t live in isolation from other people. And as leader, but just as human beings, I think that the goal, the higher goal of authenticity, is going from a place where we hit everything, where we really didn’t bring our whole selves to work very separate. You know, it’s not that long ago, and it’s in my lifetime that I would be in a room where I didn’t mention that I had children because it would be a weakness. So authenticity.
Amii Barnard-Bahn 52:22
Same yeah, I didn’t have photos of my I knew there was one company I worked for where my photos were out and it’s one of the things I looked for when I interviewed another one where photos gone. Right. So I I totally understand that. And that that’s not, that’s not great for anyone. And so I do welcome how that’s happened. And I think you’re right about how the pandemic has definitely laid bare the opportunity. And certainly for people of color, there’s been a lot of wonderful work on the incredible stress of covering. And there was a great article that I just read recently about women of color are finding it incredibly less stressful to work from home permanently now, because they’re not suffering as many microaggressions everything from people touching their hair, to all kinds of things that a lot of us never probably even think about our experience in the workplace. And so, so that’s fascinating.
Diana Wu-David 53:15
So there is a cultural shift, I believe, and I hope and I will work hard to create, that allows people more room for people to be themselves if that you know, just themselves maybe not their authentic labelled self. Because there is a risk that we can manufacture an authentic self that looks really good with just the right you know, moment of vulnerability. But I do think that people coming together to have exceptional relationships in the workplace does involve a degree of a being present, of being yourself of bringing beyond the, you know, something beyond the boss and something that is his you your character and your energy and all those things. So, I guess my rant would be that, that people just throw out the idea of authenticity without you know, giving it a chance.
Kimberley Cole 54:13
Well, I like that we got layer on layer of the rat. So that’s fantastic.
Kimberley Cole 54:18
Risky Women is a vibrant network at the center of a global community in a rapidly growing, evolving and influential industry. Given the continued pace of change, our rapid fire round revisits the most pressing topics to share ideas and offer listeners new perspectives.
Kimberley Cole 54:36
Okay, rapid fire round. We’ve got three quick questions. One word each. And I’ll just go, Amii, Diana. So in one word, what do you see is the top priority for the year ahead?
Amii Barnard-Bahn 54:50
Kimberley Cole 54:51
Diana Wu-David 54:52
Investing in interpersonal dynamics
Kimberley Cole 54:54
That’s not one word, but okay.
Diana Wu-David 54:59
One word, connection.
Kimberley Cole 55:01
Two, what is the biggest risk for the future?
Amii Barnard-Bahn 55:05
I would say environmental disasters.
Diana Wu-David 55:06
Lacking future thinking.
Kimberley Cole 55:09
And the best quality for successful leaders in risk and transformation roles, but could be just general.
Amii Barnard-Bahn 55:16
So one is knowing your purpose, and the second having the ability to influence to make it happen.
Kimberley Cole 55:22
Diana Wu-David 55:23
Kimberley Cole 55:24
Influence, okay. And I’d like to end on a book that you would recommend for all of our Risky Women, obviously, both as authors. But you know, what, what are you reading? Or what do you think everyone should read? So, Diana, what’s your recommendation?
Diana Wu-David 55:42
From a friend of both of ours, Amii and mine, Ron Carucci, wrote, To Be Honest: Lead with the Power of Truth, Justice and Purpose. And I feel like people who are in risk compliance governance, that have to deal with these ideas of ethics and having hard conversations would really benefit from this book.
Kimberley Cole 56:03
Amii Barnard-Bahn 56:04
It’s an excellent book, based on lots and lots of research around the four qualities organizations need to have in order to promote an honest and ethical culture. So I want to Diana’s one, I’ll add another one, totally different although I completely endorse Ron’s book, I have it sitting right there and talked to him yesterday about it. Mine for change leaders would be Immunity to Change by Kegan and Lahey. And I could actually save people some time because I actually like their Harvard Business Review article better and it’s shorter. So I would go to it’s called The Real Reason People Won’t Change. They ultimately wrote a book about it, which is great if you like it, but if you just want to get the punch. I love it because it incorporates something that I use in my own work around understanding, influence. And when you’re just feel like you’re beating your head against the wall with a stakeholder, understanding what someone’s they coined the phrase competing commitment, and that often what the reason people won’t change or move to where your position is, is this competing commitment, how to unearth that. And that gets to a lot of what Diana talked about, which is so valuable, which is around empathy, communication, connection. And that’s where you get to influence I mean, all of those things come together to underlie ultimately having influence.
Kimberley Cole 57:23
Fantastic, great reading. Thank you both for joining us. And I would just like to say to our listeners that it doesn’t need to end here. For 10 lucky listeners, you can get digital copies of both Amii’s book the Promotability Index Guide Book, which Forbes is calling a SWOT analysis for your career, or Diana’s book, Future Proof: Reinventing Work in the Age of Acceleration, which will help you take advantage of disruption as we have heard today. So it’s been fabulous talking to you. I’m sure we could go on for another hour. But that’s a wrap for Risky Women Radio.
Diana Wu-David 58:01
Thanks so much, Kimberley, and great conversation.
Amii Barnard-Bahn 58:04
Kimberley Cole 47:04
Thank you for listening to this exciting episode of Risky Women Radio, to connect, champion and celebrate women in risk, regulation and compliance. I’m Kimberley Cole, based in Hong Kong. For more information on the Risky Women global network, head to our website, and the episode notes and please be part of the ongoing conversation by subscribing to this podcast, connecting with us @RiskyWomen on Twitter, or even reaching out to me directly by email.