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IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge: Janara Jones

Gareth Davies IWD2021


Disclaimer: Please note that all commentary and opinions provided in this interview are those of the individual and not the organisation/company they are employed by. 

How can female leaders ensure they get a seat at the table? 

I do not feel women, in general, self-promote themselves, so I believe talking about why and the value we bring by having a seat at the table is necessary. Typically, we are looking for the invitation, instead of outlining why we deserve that seat. Women tend to think differently and bring a different perspective, offer different solutions, and bring an element of diverse thinking to the room. We need to do more self-promotion and explaining the value proposition of what people gain for having us at the table. That way not only do we get the chance to be there but then we are able to maintain our position at the table. 

What impact could Kamala Harris’ appointment to Vice President have on the next generation of female leaders? 

I love this question, because it gives them an aspirational goal to strive and a picture of how when one door closes another opens. If you look at her career before she was the Vice President, she held several roles that a lot of people thought she didn’t deserve. Her strength, intellect and determination not only speaks to her being great at what she does, but also it shows her ability to break barriers and lay the foundation for the next generation. She has shown that she is able to flex her style to maintain her relevance, knows when to be humble and when to be bold. She has shown how to take control, be deliberate in her decisions and turn negative situations that have happened in her career and turn them into positives. She has shown us what is possible when you can break barriers and overcome hurdles. 

What has held you back in your career to date and how did you come to overcome that barrier? 

Early on in my career I believe I didn’t recognise my blind spots and that takes time to overcome. That takes reflection, a desire to want to change and dedication to work on things that could be viewed as career limiting. The willingness to be vulnerable, take and accept feedback with a mindset of growing from both the good and bad is key. I had to focus on that early on and I still do today. What you learn from those experiences and how you develop yourself in coming out of that is really important. 

How have you had to adapt your own leadership since the beginning of COVID-19? 

I am an extrovert, I get my energy talking to people, meeting with them, walking the floors, having conversations with people around the office and I have not been able to do that for a while. I have spent a lot more time than I had historically having one-on-ones with all levels of my team as well as group level discussions. I use this time to really get to know what is going on with them personally, to understand how they are doing and what can I do to support them personally and professionally. I have done this with my team, as well as, set up virtual coffee breaks with various individuals throughout the organisation at all levels. 

What is your next goal or adventure?

 For my next adventure, I am hoping to check off the last continent that I have not yet visited from a travel perspective, Antarctica. So once we are allowed to travel more internationally, this will be something I would love to check off my bucket list. From a professional standpoint, I really enjoy serving the community and would love to have the opportunity to serve on a non-profit board again. It is something I’ve done and really enjoyed, but with my recent relocation and work commitments I have not had the chance to focus on this. In 2021, I will get back to serving on at least one nonprofit board. 

Who is your female inspiration? And why? 

Oprah Winfrey as some of her life principles have really resonated with me. She recently reminded me of the importance of being intentional in your actions and her point that “Everyday is Day 1”. Plus, if you look at her ability to focus on life and be very intentional about the things that she does must serve a purpose, is something I try to apply in my life, both personally and professionally. Do things with purpose. Also if you look at the impact she has had in people’s lives, from her charity with a focus on women and youth education, to the time she has spent with people and organisations giving of herself and sharing her experiences, both good and bad, for others to get through their own challenges and grow, she is truly a role model. She does incredible work not only in the black community, but internationally and when you see how she focuses on uplifting people and protecting young girls it’s very inspiring. She uses her gift to inspire and empower others through her sharing of her personally experiences (good and bad), being authentic and passionately supporting others. I admire her for that and strive to do the same. 

Click below to read the full edition of IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge: Female Leaders Across The Globe.