The Real Deal: How Women Leaders Thrive by Having a Growth Mindset
In this second instalment of “Women of Thunes”, we chat with Thunes Solutions Delivery Director, Nicole Li.
A seasoned executive and self-professed pragmatist, Nicole’s reflections can perhaps be regarded as universal truths that go beyond the workplace. She speaks candidly about the primary challenge all leaders face regardless of gender, and shares a pro tip to maintain a balanced life.
Read on to learn more about Nicole’s insights on teamwork, mentorship and why she would love to grab coffee with Elon Musk.
What inspired you to pursue a career in fintech? Who helped you the most along the way?
I have always been captivated by the real-world implications of technology. Roughly 10 years ago, a work opportunity led me to discover that the unbanked population in Africa had been utilising SMS to make and receive payments.
I was pleasantly surprised by this simple yet effective solution that enabled and empowered individuals. This discovery served as a catalyst for me to dive further into the world of fintech and find passion here.
What advice would you give young women aspiring to become leaders in their field?
First, it is realising that we all have to face challenges in our lives and then building a habit to transform those challenges into something motivating. As leaders, especially leaders in a startup world, we will be working against obstacles.
We can allow the obstacles to affect us, or we can ask ourselves: how can this be a good thing? And how can we turn it into something we are proud of when we reflect on this moment?
And secondly, to focus on what we can work on and influence in those moments. It’s very easy and tempting to shift blame externally to something we cannot control. But it doesn’t improve the situation and it won’t help to make us or the team better. Focusing instead on what can be done step by step as a continuous improvement will eventually get us there.
Thirdly, being a leader is not about one person individually but about the people in the team. It is to help people find their inspiration, share their enthusiasm, and celebrate the success of others.
As a female leader, what have been some of your biggest challenges, and how have you navigated them?
Many of the challenges female leaders face are not that different from those male leaders face.
Work-life balance has been a challenge for me. However, having a clear to-do list, prioritising tasks, and setting a one-hour time box when working on those things have helped me to maintain efficiency and keep the boundaries between work and my family life.
How can we encourage more women to pursue leadership roles, especially in traditionally male-dominated fields?
Provide mentorship and support: Women interested in pursuing leadership roles can benefit greatly from mentorship and support from other women who have successfully navigated similar career paths.
Mentorship programmes and support networks can help build a community and guide and encourage aspiring female leaders.
If you could have an hour of their time and have coffee with anyone, who would you pick and why?
It would be Elon Musk. He is the entrepreneur who had a dream about SpaceX and founded a series of profitable companies to fund that space exploration.
His vision for the future is ambitious and inspiring, and I want to gain insight into how to build scalable and profitable companies repeatedly.