Ramneek Sohal – Making A Difference

After growing up and feeling like she didn’t quite fit in, Ramneek found her feet in Human Resources. Previously working for huge brands such as Dixons Carphone, Monsoon Accessorize, House of Fraser, The Coca Cola Company and many more, she has recently been appointed as Global People Director for Karen Millen. Ramneek is an inspiration to women everywhere, proving that with hard work, self-belief and a love for what you do, you can achieve anything. She talks to #YesSheCan about how she got to where she is today, her successes and challenges.

“Making a difference to the culture of an organisation and to its people is why I do what I do”

How did you get to where you are today and did you face any challenges along the way?

I worked hard and seized opportunities when they presented themselves. I have also built a group of people around me who I trust that I can rely on to give me honest feedback and advice. With my job now, due to spending most of the week at work, it’s important to me to ensure that people can thrive and are happy. Always go back to your purpose. Why are you doing what you are doing? This will ensure you succeed, particularly when you are faced with obstacles.


What is an important initiative that you feel passionate about in your role?

It would be supporting our people to drive their performance and empowering them to drive change. This includes supporting them with having great performance conversations, supporting them with their development and their career plan.


What do you think gave you the drive and determination to succeed?

From a very young age, I observed considerable gender inequality at varying points throughout my life and because I was one of five girls, we were viewed and treated differently to families who had boys. I also viewed the hardship that my parents went through and their sacrifices to build a life for their family and ensure we had the best opportunities open to us. It’s through their encouragement, leadership and values that we are all successful and happy in our lives.


What’s great about being a female in your role?

I am quite lucky in that my CEO and most of my peer group are females! Having come from a very male-dominated background, this was refreshing. We are a womenswear brand led by a group of women and that itself is very empowering. A balanced team is important though and we do have men on the leadership team too, as well as two women from different backgrounds including myself.


What is your biggest achievement in life?

I am very proud of my children. Apart from that I am proud of climbing the Great Wall of China in my twenties for 6 days to raise vital funds to rebuild a school in India that was destroyed by the Tsunami. I managed to raise thousands of pounds and really make a difference. Given I wasn’t very fit at the time and feared heights, this was a big achievement for me.


What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learnt along the way?

Focus on the things than you can control. You can easily waste a lot of energy focusing on things you can’t. Also, don’t take yourself too seriously and have fun along the way! It’s very easy to put pressure on yourself.


“Ask yourself what would you do if you weren’t afraid or if you had a finite time on this earth”

What three tips would you give to young females starting their careers?

Look for opportunities to add value and make a difference. When opportunities arise, grab them with both hands. Have a personal vision, write it down and refer back to it to ensure you’re on track. Commit to the baby steps you are going to take to realise your vision.


Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?

My mother. She lost her Dad when she was only 1 years old, moved to England when she was 19 and didn’t know a word of English. She learned English by herself and worked while my father studied at University. My mother managed the house and managed the finances to ensure that all bills were paid and there was a safety net. She also raised five children! We are all strong independent women and this is largely down to the example my mother set in being committed, working hard and being your best no matter what.


What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organisations?

Build a strong network inside and outside the organisation. Find a mentor that will be direct with you, challenge you as well as support you. Imposter syndrome amongst women in ‘prominent roles’ is very common so these strategies will help you.


What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?

Have giants around you. A good leader builds their successors. You never know it all. The team is everything.


What would you say to your 16-year old self?

Trust and believe in yourself. You have a voice and if that’s different, that’s OK.


Feel inspired by Ramneek Sohal’s story? Read our post on Barbara Res for more examples of how women are changing the way they are viewed in the workplace!

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