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31 March 2008

Learning survival skills in Paris

Hello – back in the blogging saddle today, after an extremely busy and hectic schedule last week.  Monday 24th March saw me boarding the Eurostar and travelling to Paris in order to participate in the pilot English language version of a training event entitled “The Women’s Survival Course”.  This was originally designed and run by PwC France, with the support of GAC member Agnès Hussherr and earlier this year my colleague Dale Meikle kindly invited me to participate in the first English version. You’ll be learning more about Dale in a future blog entry, by the way ….

Eight of us, from various European PwC territories, arrived to be the English language guinea pigs and we spent a fascinating day learning how to change our behaviour and reactions in order to “Change the Company”.  The tutor, Thierry Roland, explained that this was part of a Trojan horse approach to creating an evolution (or perhaps a revolution?) from within.  Much of the day was spent learning about and from each other – how did we respond under certain circumstances?  What cultural norms impacted our behaviours?  What are the “key illusions” that we all hold about ourselves, and how can we flex these?  Thierry provided us with 15 golden rules, some of which I had heard before and some of which were new to me.  The concept of “not always being 100% available” created the most debate - I wonder how many of us are trying to apply that principle this week?

Dale is currently organising a second pilot event for the end of April, after which the course will be rolled out across Europe.  I hope that the other participants found it to be as useful and thought provoking as I did.

One of the other women on the course was Wanda Eriksen, an Assurance Partner who also represents Switzerland at the Eurofirms’ Women in PwC events and who has had a fascinating life to date. Having joined the New York office from university, she then moved to Switzerland in her mid 20s and became a Partner a few years later.  I took the opportunity to interview her whilst we were both in Paris and her profile will soon appear on the Role Models section on the main site.

Leaking_pipelineI’ve previously referenced that one of the major GAC projects on which we have been focussing over the last few months has been a study of our key female leaders around the world – who are they, what are their stories, what can we learn from them, what messages can we take away about the “push and pull” aspects which enable women to succeed?  Last summer, we interviewed 79 senior women in seven PwC territories – and on Thursday, the report of our findings was made available for download from PwC's main website. As both the primary author of the report and the person who undertook nearly half of the interviews, I feel as if I’ve been living with the interview scripts and the report for quite a while now... so it’s great to have it finally concluded and available to share.  Let me know what you think.

Finally, I posted last month that I would welcome blog entries from readers who had a story to tell about their views on life in PwC.  I’ve had some amazing entries and I found it too hard to just pick one – so I’ve actually chosen three articles and will be posting those over the coming weeks.  Congratulations to Paula Holt from PwC UK, Dale Meikle, based in Brussels with the Eurofirms, and Blanka Dubrokova from the Czech Republic, all of whom will be published here and receive a copy of “Why Women Mean Business” - www.whywomenmeanbusiness.com - as a thank you.

And mentioning WWMB – I’m off to Toronto later this week as the book is launched in Canada on Thursday.  My next postings will come from either Canada or New York, as I’ll be attending the USA book launch, going to the Catalyst Awards and meeting up with contacts from The Glass Hammer and Working Mother.  I also hope to interview a few more great PwC women for the Role Models section, as that area of the site consistently receives strong feedback and I really enjoying talking to inspirational women such as Wanda and sharing their stories.

Until next time,

Cleo

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