#SSOWomen Interview with Tania Wilhelm


 Five years ago, is this career/role what you envisioned?  


No, five years ago, I was thinking about staying in the same company and looking for relocation opportunities; I always thought that entrepreneurship wasn’t for me.  Today, more than ever, I feel the decision and my future is mine alone to build. Whatever you decide to make out of your next five years, be sure it is your decision, not what a business, your manager or even a mentor needs or sees for you.  


What do you think is the biggest challenge that women currently face in the workplace? 


Many times companies fill upper-level positions with women only to fill a quota, and although the person is qualified and the right person for the job, in the minds of the old guard, the "gender card”  never goes away.  You get to sit at the big executives table, but are expected to blindly agree with them, while your opinion is not truly valued.


 How do you view/handle failure in the workplace? 


Ask before you react, collect as much information as possible, look for a work-around or other options, learn from your failure and then move on to the next thing.  Always ask for help, as asking for help is not a weakness, but just plain smart.


 How do you go about encouraging innovative ideas in your workplace? 


You need to create specific initiatives and actually put these in motion.  Have people present their projects, having the most viable ones voted on by employees with the winner getting tuition up to X dollar amount for relevant certifications.  Companies love to open innovation labs, but then they let “tradition” take over saying, “that does not work for us” or “that’s not the way we do things”, which ends up killing innovation.

What is the most important career advice you’ve gotten in the last 10 years? 


Lead by example and keep your reputation in tact.


 Have you had any female mentors in your career and if so, what wisdom did she impart? And feel free to give that person a shout out! 


Julianne Law, may she rest in peace.  She taught me:

·  There is room for everyone to grow

·  Don’t put companies above people

·  Stay loyal to your people

·  Never take loyalty and integrity out of the equation

·  Be hands on, don’t just sit at your desk

·  Take walks with and talk to your team

·  Sit with your team to understand what it is they do


 What, if anything, do you and/or your SSO currently do to foster female empowerment in the workplace?  


I am currently creating a foundation to support women in leadership positions and experts in their fields to increase their presence in companies and in the job market.  We will use the resources collected to fund small start-ups, helping them assemble their company, register it, get their accounting in order, etc.  (https://www.facebook.com/SintechosdeCristal/?epa=SEARCH_BOX) Right now it is under construction and some services and information will change as it develops.