On International Women’s Day, 13 Leaders Share Challenges, Advice Amid Pandemic

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This past year has challenged everything: our wellbeing, our routines, the way we work. In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we asked leaders from across the Adecco Group to share their experiences this past year, and their advice to shape a better future of work. Let’s #ChoosetoChallenge.
March 8, 2021

Adrienne Harris

Admissions Producer, General Assembly , USA

“Listen to our needs, advocate for oneself and others, and continue to build empathy to support those around us.”

As a parent of a toddler and a person with a significant disability, I was greatly impacted by the pandemic. Not only did I have to adjust to working alongside my son in a small, two-bedroom apartment and was unable to access my monthly medical treatments due to the overwhelming COVID-19 cases impacting my hospital, but I had to endure these challenges while still maintaining my professional responsibilities.

My advice is that we listen to our needs, advocate for oneself and others, and continue to build empathy to support those around us. The COVID pandemic has impacted us all in a variety of ways, but I believe through empathy, agility, and resilience we can find a more impactful and thriving way to work.

Valérie Beaulieu

Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, The Adecco Group

“Have the empathy to simply ask each other ‘How are you doing today?’”


The first challenge that I faced was finding a place to work. My husband and I used to share a desk at home, and when both of us ended up being on calls every day, we had to find a way to share that space differently. I ended up in my daughter’s bedroom to do all my calls.

The best piece of advice I could offer is: Take ownership. Don’t be a victim of the situation, be in the driver’s seat. Decide what’s important for you and don’t forget these awareness moments. We are extremely lucky to have a job, and be able to work from home, when so many people are not in that situation.

Now more than ever we need to think about others. Some people are dealing with very challenging situations at home; whether caring for elderly parents, whether as young professionals feeling isolated , or parents having to look after their children’s schoolwork. Have the empathy to simply ask each other “How are you doing today?” and just start the conversation to create human connection when we are on a screen. This is something I really appreciate, when people just say: “How are you today?”.

Tom Ogletree

 VP - Social Impact & External Affairs, General Assembly, USA

“Men must also take our share of responsibility.”


Men must also take our share of responsibility for the invisible work that too often falls to women. It's on us to take parental leave, set clear boundaries with our colleagues to care for children and other family members, and create space for members of our teams to do the same.

Ranjit De Sousa

President at Lee Hecht Harrison

“It is critical that leaders lean in.”


There are so many reasons why diversity and inclusion are important. It makes good business sense. There’s overwhelming evidence that companies which focus on creating an inclusive and diverse environment, perform significantly better in terms of creativity, innovation, and productivity, employee engagement, and ultimately in producing business results.

It is critical that leaders lean-in and drive diversity and inclusion. For instance, from a recruitment level: how do you ensure there is as little bias as possible throughout the process? What tools, assessments and technology are you utilizing in that process?

But also at a practical level, simple steps such as ensuring that you give an equitable amount of time for everyone to speak and share their opinions and points of view during a meeting is something that every leader or every chair of a meeting can implement.

Stela Tocheva

EMEA Sales Director, Modis Tech Delivery

“I needed to come up with a new way of doing things.”


This year I came to a realization during the pandemic. I told myself: “Well, since nothing works the same way, then I need to come up with a new way of doing things.” I overcame the challenge by putting a new order in my life. . .This triggered a shift in my mind which led me looking for opportunities to optimize my time and channel my energy and power, focusing on the end results.

Jalie Cohen

Group SVP, HR Americas, The Adecco Group

"Keep going. Don’t give up. Accept the change, embrace it, and move forward.”


I never imagined that I would have to be a corporate executive, and a stay-at-home mother, and a teacher, all at the same time. It has been, personally, a struggle, if I could be honest. It’s going from onboarding at a new role, leaving that, then immediately going to figuring out how can I best support my children, making sure the homework is done, making dinner, and trying to organize things that in the past I have never had to manage, at least not all at once.

As far as overcoming those challenges? I don’t know that I have overcome them, to be honest. I can speak to how I’ve grown. If there’s one thing that I have improved for myself personally, it’s really focusing on making sure that I’m caring for myself, both mentally, physically, and spiritually. Oftentimes, as women, we put ourselves last, because there’s always other things happening. I’ve made it a priority to put myself first.

The advice I would give to women: Stay the course. We have this. Push through. Make sure you take the time to care for yourself. It’s just a moment in time, it feels like it’s been a very long moment, but it’s just a moment where we have the opportunity to really strengthen, upskill, reskill, redevelop, whatever it is that we didn’t have before. My advice, honestly, is to keep going. Don’t give up. Accept the change, embrace it, and move forward.

Dana Ianuzziello

VP, Business Development, Ezra / International Future Leader Delegate, Canada

“Set your boundaries and be confident in what you’re doing.”


Over the last year, I have become more confident in saying what I need and have noticed that the people around me ask more how they can help. We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge, and my dream is that the future of work is one where the success of an organization is measured by the wellbeing of its employees.

My advice to everyone and especially to women is to set your boundaries and be confident in doing what is right for you. The future of work is going to look a lot different and it is up to each and every one of us to shape it.

Simon Crichton

Managing Director, Modis, UK

“Diversity keeps us healthy and helps us grow.”


Women have found different challenges to men in 2020. It is an unfortunate fact that women often bear greater responsibility for running a house, childcare and home schooling. COVID-19 and lockdown have created intolerable strain, this is something as leaders we need to recognise and understand.

When people are accepted and embraced as their whole full self, they are more productive, creative and can achieve the most incredible results – something I have witnessed many times in my career.

We are all so different, and different means contrasting strengths and weaknesses; it means that when some of us struggle, others can step forward and shine; it means that when we are problem-solving, we won’t always go down the same path; it means a different perspective resulting from different experiences; diversity keeps us healthy and helps us grow as people and as an organization.

Cindy Chen

Regional Head of Adecco Taiwan & South Korea, Spring Professional Taiwan


During the pandemic, I felt frustrated about the uncertainty in running a business. I learned that I wasn’t alone in handling all of this. Colleagues came together and supported each other, and also supported the company. We realised we had all the tools and learnt to be creative to meet the challenge.

My advice is to embrace the technology and upskill your digital skills, no matter which generation or gender you are. Be positive and be agile to better assist others, who may not be as strong as you are.

Valentina Ficaio

Regional Head of Finance Southern Europe, EE & MENA

“Anything is possible if you really put dedication and hard work.”


The main challenge I’ve faced was having to juggle a huge workload with a 4-year-old bossing me around on my own. The travel restrictions made it impossible for my husband to commute back on the weekends.

However, I feel we need to treasure what we have learnt and achieved this year. My flexibility and resilience boosted. I was able to start a new position and I feel more confident than ever that anything is possible if you really put dedication and hard work.

Sangeetha Jayabalan

Global Head- Information and Communications Technology Consulting Business, Modis

“Life is more flexible than we think.”


We are adaptive, and life is more flexible than we think. Spending more time at home with no social interactions, it is so easy to feel unfulfilled in the areas in our life we felt we no longer had control over. While it is good to want better for ourselves and to be bold enough to pursue endeavors, we once deemed unattainable, relaxing, recharging, and doing less is also beneficial.

Sibeth Ndiaye

General Secretary, The Adecco Group France

“Take care of others.”


This year taught me how important is the balance between family life and professional involvement. There is no work performance without personal development nor private fulfillment.

Take care of others. Make sure that distance doesn't impair proximity with them. Show kindness to your teams, as together we are able to transcend ourselves and overcome the trials of life.

Gordana Landen

Chief HR Officer at the Adecco Group

"This year is an opportunity for companies to rethink the way they work to foster a more inclusive and flexible culture.”


COVID-19 has changed how leaders, managers, colleagues, and associates live and work. More people are interacting online and remotely, parents are balancing work with home schooling, and individuals are finding new ways to manage their wellbeing and development. We now have an opportunity to continue fostering an inclusive culture while considering how these new ways of working will impact our diverse workforce. Our aim at the Adecco Group is to have the right infrastructure and support in place to make the future work for everyone.

We envision a world in which talent matters, not labels, and where everyone has a chance to be part of the world of work. Our priority is to continue building an inclusive culture to power belonging, trust and participation amongst our colleagues, recognising and valuing differences to help our business, communities and clients win.

We are committed to achieving gender parity in leadership levels by 2030. We are part of Paradigm for Parity, a coalition of business leaders committed to eliminating gender gaps in corporate leadership.