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Inspiring the Leader in You: Lessons from Women Deliver

August 25, 2023

Developing your own identity as a leader is a constant journey. As members of Abt’s talent acquisition team, we’re often focused on the recruitment process (see our tipsheet). But that’s just one piece of career development.

This summer, we traveled with colleagues to join 6,000-plus people in Rwanda for Women Deliver, the world’s biggest conference for gender equity. As we listened to people at our live sessions, at our Solidarity Space, and at our booth, we heard that Abt can make an impact on future leaders at every stage of their careers.

On stage and in 1:1 meetings throughout the week, we shared best practices for leaders at all levels. Our panel discussion, Inspiration Starts Here: Supporting the Leader in You featured leaders from Abt and USAID to share lessons from their own careers. A sampling:

Strong networks are critical for career growth and access to opportunities. But for introverts like me, networking is hard. It can feel transactional. Instead, make it relational by approaching networking as “I learn from you, you learn from me.

- Lisa Simeon, Chief Operations Officer

Manage your boss. It’s normal that your boss manages you. But you need to manage them, as well, to gain the support for your initiative. Be heard, be clear. Be supportive of your boss to make them successful, which can lead to you getting the support and resource that you need so you can be successful.

- Midori de Habich, Technical Director, USAID-financed Local Health System Sustainability Project (LHSS) and former Minister of Health in Peru

There are so many platforms, so many leadership opportunities for you to grow your career. Please apply. And sometimes you have to apply many times. Even if you get rejected, apply if you know you have something to offer and you know it is really important to you.

- Joan Chahenza, Senior Technical Advisor, Renewable Energy, Healthcare Electrification and Telecommunication Alliance

Abt leaders then offered individual career counseling around four main topics:

  1. Maximizing Mentorship. Whether you are a mentor or a mentee, think about how you can leverage these relationships to practice active listening, accepting feedback, and creating a space to grow. Mentors are wonderful resources as you begin your next career choice or to help you navigate your current career.
  2. Refreshing Your Resume. If you are ready for a new opportunity, update your resume. Think about how to best highlight your relevant experience and specific skills. Use bullets, action verbs, and readable font. Keep your format simple so that both human and AI reviewers will understand it (and yes, Abt still uses humans to read every resume as we learn more about potential AI bias).
  3. Interviewing Excellence. Do your research and do a dry run. As you prepare for the interview, think STAR: Situation, Task, Action, Result—and have stories ready to illustrate these. 
  4. Maintaining your brand. Develop a focused message about who you are, what you value, and what you want in your career, and take inspiration from those around you. In this connected world, your personal brand can advance your career journey.

Abt’s career support at Women Deliver wasn’t all talk. Our booth also sponsored free professional portraits for people to enhance their online profiles.

Whether you join the team at Abt or elsewhere, we want you to have the guidance and tools to succeed in your career. We were inspired by those we met in Kigali and continue to be inspired by those who help us continue to make a world of difference.

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