Member Spotlight | Irena Grofelnik
Founding Member of WomenH2H, Strategic advisor, Sales trainer, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women Alumni Mentor, Points of you® certified trainer, a lecturer at Altius University, owner of Spiriton Coaching, and proud aunt.
There is still a renegade, samurai, dreamer, and a naughty child hiding in me. I just adore to travel around, be among kids, and follow my soul. Staying up late into the night, don't expect me to answer my phone before 8:30 in the morning. And in case you stop at my house, bring the largest cappuccino with. Coffee and sun make me smile.
My professional path was driven by knowledge and authority of wisdom. I followed leaders, joined their teams to be able to learn and grow. I was fortunate with superiors who saw my potential and gave me opportunities to accelerate. At the same time, I was attending classes and courses to expand my knowledge. I hold an executive MBA diploma and an university degree in finance and banking.
From a sales clerk to a sales director in the international company and CEO, my goal is to help as many young people as I can.
When it comes to the role of women at work today, what inspires you and what keeps you up at night?
If someone asked about gender equality 10 years ago, my answer would be - we are equal. Nowadays I can pretty much confirm that we need another 50 years to get to the same line. Looking into female career achievements we are always somehow 5 years behind. My first CEO position was at my 40's. Whereas my male colleagues were holding it at the age of 35, 36. Do not understand me wrong, I declare myself as a very lucky person.
But there is nothing more beautiful than to be a woman. Yeah!
What’s your goal around women at work today and why is it important to you? Why is that a priority for you right now?
Today I am focused on female entrepreneurship support, mentoring, and coaching just to pass all the knowledge and experiences to women who are struggling because of different biases.
What are the biggest challenges you have personally had as a woman at work? How did you try to overcome them?
There were times when I was mistreated because of my gender, and not just from the male side. I was many times surprised that the worst female enemy is her female closest colleague. Getting over such biases is harder and must be handled with a lot of empathy and communication. As if it is forbidden for a woman to have ambitions. Being known as a straight forward speaker was of a great help quite often.
Who or what would have made it easier? What do you wish you would have done then?
Having a mentor is a great asset. All along the professional journey. Not only for decision making but also for building resilience, self-trust and self-esteem. Try to find one as fast as you can.
Once my mentor told me: "You have 2 choices. To quit immediately or to be treated the same from today on." My mistake was not to quit and leave the company. Today I would. But on the other hand, I made my team one of the most engaged in the whole group.
Who do you follow on these subjects? Are there authors, influencers, leaders, sites, blogs you follow?
I am taking my inspiration from authors whose mission is to lift humanity. They can be male or female. I follow Mindwalley authors, Mooji, Simon Sinek, but being old fashioned, I love books as Teachings of Budha, pearls of wisdom of Confucius etc.
Do you participate in other women groups or communities? What have you seen work in such communities and what was missing for you?
I am really looking forward to growing and contributing to the WomenH2H community. In addition to my other experience, I was also a Cherie Blair Foundation mentor, helping women build their own businesses in the past. If I can be of help to any of you, reach out and drop me a note.
Why is it important for women to be surrounded by other women and what is the role we play in each other’s lives?
I would not say it is important that women should be surrounded by women.
Surround yourself with people who want to help you and are supportive. No matter the age or gender. Feel the presence of energy flow, genuine intentions, open heart and acceptance.
What activities could we do so that we master together how to get back our zest, thrive on change, lead with grace and confidence and co-create the beautiful workplaces we all long for?
How can we thrive on change? Connect, be positive in intentions, speak out and dare to do. Dare to ask for help. Women have the mistaken belief that we have to do everything on our own. No, we do not have to. Delegate, create, innovate, use technology, invite others to contribute, build a tribe.
How do you see your role in building this community? And is there anything else you want to add that you think would be helpful for us to know as we are building this community?
I am still discovering. Reach out if you feel the same and let us co-create our reality. I will invite as much female colleagues and friends as I can. Let us grow and blossom. See you!