International Women’s Day: Q&A with Debra Filippin

International Women’s Day: Q&A with Debra Filippin

Monica Bermeo International Women's Day

Carter Murray is proud to be supporting International Women's Day 2019. International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Whilst we all know that gender parity within the workplace has improved over the past decades, we all also know that there is still a long way to go.

We would like to join the discussion and be part of International Women's Day 2019 #BalanceforBetter campaign on the 8th March by interviewing inspiring women we work with and, in particular, understanding the role confidence has played in their career.

We interviewed Debra Filippin, Head of Business Development Asia Pacific, Pinsent Masons.

How do you define confidence, particularly in the workplace?

Confidence in the workplace is being comfortable with the skillset that you bring to the organisation, and never doubting those skills and the contributions they make.

How do you think the confidence gap affects women?

A lack of confidence prevents women from knowing their own worth, and sadly this sometimes results in women comparing themselves to others and feeling a sense of inferiority.

Do you think women’s workplace confidence has improved over the past few decades? Please explain why.

Yes, I think more and more women and recognising their worth, and this has helped raise the awareness of the confidence gap and all that it encompasses i.e. feelings of low self-worth and inadequacy etc.

How important have confidence and self-belief been in achieving your career goals? Please explain why.

Incredibly important. A number of personal experiences such as living in Japan for a decade, have helped me understand how valuable my skills are to any organisation.

Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome (where you doubt your achievements and have an internalised fear of being exposed as a “fraud”)? If so, how did you overcome it?

Fortunately, never.

How much has risk-taking contributed to your career development?

A little. I was given a leadership role at a young age as my supervisor believed in my skills. It was risky for all of us at the time but in hindsight the decision was one that was carefully considered so on a scale the risk was minimal.

Can you give an example of a risk you’ve taken that has paid dividend?

Yes, I have multiple examples of where I have elevated people in their roles before they were "ready", but each and every time the decision was the right one, and ultimately very fruitful for the organisation.

How important is mentoring, coaching and sponsorship in helping women to grow their confidence at work?

Not very important in my opinion. The key is helping women to help themselves, rather than continuing to advise them that someone is going to help them get there. Supporters are of course important, as they are in our personal lives, but we're responsible for our own destiny so no one is going to get us there but ourselves.

How can confidence-building be built into career development strategies?

Confidence-building is critical for any forum – personal or professional. People can benefit from training to help them understand their own worth, and never diverting from that belief that they are truly valuable and have a lot to offer.

What can be done to ensure a woman being assertive in the workplace doesn’t negatively impact on colleagues’ perceptions of her?

There needs to be much more unconscious bias training as well as training to help people identify what I call "distorted information" that unfortunately we'll all been injected with from a young age. Distorted information leads to stereotypes and negative views about how men and women should behave, and this should be brought to the fore.