Shazia Syed - Chairperson, Unilever Pakistan
Mentoring has always been a key value for me. As a leader, I feel it is my responsibility to develop and enable people to unlock their capabilities, improve and strengthen their skills. As someone who has been thrown into the deep end during the initial days of my career, I am keenly aware of the importance of mentoring in helping develop leaders. Personally, I find it to be a very humbling experience; knowing that I can help someone and extend that support towards them is an incredible feeling.
I truly believe that mentoring is a two-way stream. Whilst developing my team it also helps me better myself as a leader. It is a great way to connect with people and learn from their questions, concerns and anxieties and understand them better; which in turn helps me address their needs and tailor my leadership style to suit my team’s current sentiments better. Mentoring also helps me build a trusting relationship with my team as we put in our heart and soul into the conversations and share our victories and losses alike.
Being able to make that kind of difference inspires my work every day. Especially as a woman leader in a developing market, I have had to overcome a variety of obstacles to achieve everything that I have today. To be able to be a ray of light for those who have a dream is an inspiration on its own. It is critical for me to make that level of mentoring a part of my every day behaviour.
I strive to be a catalyst of change in the organization, breaking the glass ceiling not just for myself but also for others, by supporting and enabling other women to grow and develop.
It is also so important to me to know that I am giving something back, because at the end of the day, mentoring is a part of what got me where I am today at Unilever. My transition into a business leader role would not have been possible without the supportive, empowering mentoring I have received, first while I was heading the business in Sri Lanka, and now in Pakistan. It was my time spent with all the seasoned leaders of Unilever that has really helped me ease into my role as a Chairperson.