This past March, we celebrated International Women’s Day by dedicating a special series for some of our female leaders at NuVasive. What is International Women’s Day (IWD)? It is a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women all over. In addition, IWD marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Internationally, purple is a color for symbolizing women, signifying justice and dignity. At NuVasive, our mission is to paint the world purple and continue to change as many patient lives as possible. Pairing the two purples together, we hope NUVA can help drive the movement to increase unity, advocacy, and action in our society.
Featuring our November #WomenInSpine feature, Suzett, Manager in Trade Compliance.
What woman inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by every woman that fights for what is correct, for what she believes in, and what she wants. Every woman that wakes up each morning and does the right thing for her and the people around her encourages me, specifically women like Kathrine Switzer, Katherine Johnson, Ellen Ochoa, and my mother. These women have overcome adversity and continue to fight for equality.
What advice would you give to other female professionals in Global Trade Compliance?
Never stop growing. Global Trade is a fascinating and dynamic environment, but it is also one with no clear path to follow. Be open to learning new things that may help you find areas of trade that you may become even more passionate about.
You need to value your capabilities and advocate for yourself. It is often said, at least amongst trade compliance professionals, that our set of skills are unique and I believe that is a true statement. Don’t be discouraged by adverse circumstances, take a step back and look at the big picture. Trade compliance is in the middle of all the action, from reviewing requirements for start-up enterprises per specific jurisdictions, to placing a purchase order, to delivering our products to the final customer. Make sure you value your position, but also value the contribution of people around you since we all hold an important piece of the puzzle.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Even though our society has come a long way over the past 50 years, the environment we still operate in continues to be driven by men. I can think of many barriers out there, such as the labels that sometimes are used to describe women in general—not only in the workplace but also in society. These labels include “emotional, bossy, feisty, too nice, and ‘she has other priorities’”, and these are used too often.
Women need to build their own brand and emphasize what they can bring to the discussion table.
We should not mimic how men behave in order to get to a top level position. I believe that what we need to do is to understand what is required of us and build that up (if we need to) in order to confidently face adversities that may arise, while respecting each team member’s work style.
The responsibility of course is not only ours. Companies and society need to be exposed to women in top-level positions. It is 2018 and we are still surprised when we see a woman running for office, or taking over a top government position, or when we see on the news that a woman is the CEO of a company.
We are just not used to seeing this. That itself is a barrier that is holding women back from those positions, and perhaps it is the fear to the unknown.
How do you think the female perspective benefits our company mission of changing patient lives?
I’m personally motivated by the NuVasive mission. To be able to change lives and offer anyone out there the chance to enjoy life without the restrictions and pain of a spinal disease is what motivates me. It’s what keeps me looking for better ways to do my job to the standard that is required. Women are determined and fight for what they believe in and that is an essential tool to the success of the company.
In addition, women tend to be considerably more empathetic, which allows us to be more in touch with the improvement in NuVasive patients’ lives after a procedure.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
I think women and men need to go back to the basics. We live in such a fast paced environment that we never give ourselves time to just stop and “feel” everything around us.
We don’t connect with people, nature, and sometimes we don’t even connect with ourselves to identify the needs we have. If this is happening today, I cannot imagine how everything will be in 20 years.
Women need to continue fighting for equality and what they believe in and raise their voice to advocate for not only themselves, but also for other women. Women have been fighting for years, not to be better, but to have the same opportunities men have, and I believe we have come a long way. The fight isn’t over though, I believe it is just starting and it needs to be carried out by the generations that follow.
To read other #WomenInSpine features from last month, click here to browse our ‘Culture’ section.