Elizabeth Abati – Build the life you want to live

I am someone who likes to take on challenges. I currently work as a Strategy Manager at Google. My role is focused on Android, and on sustainability and regulatory response as it relates to Android. My role is essentially facilitating and influencing executive decisions. On a typical workday, I usually start my day around 10 am and wrap up at 7 pm. I either work from home or from the office, depending on priorities. After work, I like to keep myself busy. I am a World Economic Forum Global Shaper in the London hub, and sometimes we have meetings after work. Besides this, I also usually have book club meetings or other such social group meetings in the evenings.

Throughout my career journey, consistency has been key. I always try to be open to new challenges and opportunities. I am also very intentional when it comes to professional development, learning new skills, and networking. I also ask for help when needed. There have been several challenges along the way in different forms – whether it’s the difficulty of a new type of task or working with a challenging stakeholder, etc. Regardless of the level of difficulty, I’ve always approached challenges with the mindset of ‘I’ll get through this’and it has been very helpful. 

I have a very clear vision of the life I’d like to live in 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, and so on. And I work very hard to bring that life into fruition. Whether it’s advancing in my career, earning more, strengthening my relationships with family and friends, or finding a life partner— I’m constantly working on these things, so I can get to where I would like to be. I’m a type A personality, so I thrive on setting goals, accomplishing them, and checking them off my list.

One great aspect about being a female in my role is the emergence of communities tailored for women. Whether it’s women in leadership, aspiring women leaders, women in tech, etc., these kinds of communities have provided essential support for me throughout my career journey. I appreciate being able to reach out to another woman who has gone through a similar experience, and is willing to provide advice or guidance, and who also recognises the importance of mentoring and sponsoring other women.

I’d say the biggest thing I’ve learned is about perception. It’s important to be aware of how people see you. There’s who you are and then there’s the image others have of you, and they don’t necessarily align. Recognising this difference is key, and then deciding whether or not to bridge the gap. This applies not only in professional settings, but also in more casual relationships with friends and family. Taking control of your image and being clear about who you are and how you want others to see you is crucial.

I believe my gender has bought unnecessary challenges to my career, in many instances. Society has made a lot of progress when it comes to gender equality but there is still some unconscious bias, from both men and women. And it can be quite difficult to call out unconscious bias because it’s usually subtle. You have to be very strategic on how you respond in such situations.

Outside of work I love reading books and I love puzzles. These days, I’ve been pushing myself to engage in more outdoor hobbies. I’ve started walking a lot more recently, and that has been fun. I also love travelling, and I travel quite often.

My mantra is to simply keep going. Consistency, perseverance & resilience are key for me.

My three tips I would give to young females staring their careers would be: I would say one, to have a female mentor who can give you valuable advice. Two, to prioritise networking. Connecting with people can open up so many doors. Lastly, I strongly advocate for speaking up. It’s essential to speak up, whether it’s negotiating salaries, contributing in meetings, or expressing your thoughts and opinions. Don’t be afraid to make your voice heard!

Assemble a board of mentors & sponsors who can look out for you in your workplace, give you valuable advice, and speak positively about you in rooms that you’re not in.

The best advice I have ever been given would be: Build the life you want to live. For me, this means to not necessarily follow a set path, and to not hold myself back due to preconceived notions. I’m always applying for new opportunities or trying out new challenges. Even if I don’t succeed, I learn something new along the way.

One woman who has impacted my life would be Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala really inspires me. My friends are tired of hearing me talk about her, but I just find her so amazing! To me, she’s the ultimate Nigerian career woman. She’s not only successful in Nigeria but also internationally. She has built such a strong personal brand and an impressive career. It’s incredibly inspiring to me, and I hope to be like her one day.

I do not think enough is being done by businesses to address gender imbalance. There’s a lot of motion, but little movement. We need more women, and women from minority backgrounds in senior executive positions and in boardrooms.

What I would say to my 16-year-old self: I would say enjoy the journey and don’t be so hard on yourself.

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