International Women’s Day with Lauren Tropeano, Skillshare

As a woman-owned business, we are honored to share the stories and messages of incredible woman leaders across a variety of industries for our International Women’s Day blog series.

This interview is with Lauren Tropeano, Chief People Officer at Skillshare.

Why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day celebrates the amazing accomplishments of women from across the world. It also provides a much-needed opportunity to reflect upon and shine a light on issues of gender inequality and to raise awareness about issues of inequity that disproportionately affect women and girls across the world.

What motivates you to be a leader in your industry?

I am motivated to improve outcomes for people (and companies) by using deep human skills to help people feel seen, understood and motivated to perform at their highest potential in both their professional and personal lives. I am especially motivated to help women and girls see and understand their worth and the unique talents that they bring to the world. In a world where we are hearing so much about AI, I think it’s extremely important to not lose sight of the very powerful things that make us unique as humans and the wonderful talents we each provide.

I have been extremely fortunate in my career to have had opportunities to work with people who were willing to take a chance on me. Even when I lacked experience, they saw my potential. I want to help give others those opportunities by openly sharing the knowledge I have of how corporate systems work to demystify how people grow and advance their careers and help navigate the nuance. Additionally, I really enjoy mentoring and motivating women at all stages in their careers to strive towards whatever goals they have. I’m at a point in my career where I have more opportunities and a larger platform to do this as a leader in my industry.

Are there any female leaders that have inspired you throughout your career?

First, my mom and grandmothers have always been a source of inspiration for me. My grandmother was an entrepreneur and a business owner in the 1940s and the years following, which was a feat and accomplishment in and of itself at that time. My mom was always a great role model to me of what being a successful working mother looked like, always seeming to find a balance between being present for family and growing in her career over the years. 

Professionally, I have been inspired by many fearless female trailblazers. I deeply admire Mary Barra, the CEO of GM. I appreciate her success because she is a leader who grew from within GM over the course of a long career and wasn’t afraid to take risks, try new things and stick it out regardless of how tough things got. Her approach to leadership is personal and refreshing. 

Early on in my career, I was lucky to work with a handful of really smart women who were successful and had highly impactful roles. While working at Pivotal Software, the company hired a first-time female CFO. She has since gone on to be the CEO of DocuSign. I remember thinking how great it was that she had three small children while holding such a prestigious position for a public company. Seeing her success gave me the confidence to go on to have three children myself knowing that it was possible to have a successful family life and professional career. Representation matters; it’s much more difficult to be what you can’t see.

What advice or message would you share with young women who are looking to build their careers?

I would offer two pieces of advice for women who are looking to build their careers. First, be comfortable with taking risks. That can be applied in so many different contexts but some examples would be taking a stretch assignment or role and asking for what you want and advocating for yourself, even if it feels uncomfortable. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is both extremely challenging and extremely rewarding. The more you do it, the easier and more comfortable it gets. Some of the most rewarding outcomes I’ve experienced have been a result of working through something that was extremely challenging and uncomfortable. 

Second, I really believe in the power of positive thinking and operating from a place of self-love and confidence. This is not to be confused with ego, which can be destructive, but rather a deep understanding that you are where you need to be and in the driver’s seat of your life. This applies to so many contexts, both personal and professional. For example, giving yourself grace when you fail, finding the strength to navigate difficult changes, embracing imperfections within yourselves and others, and prioritizing your personal goals and values and aligning them with work that brings you joy. 

When you operate from a place of positivity and agency from within yourself you will show up as a natural leader, people will want to partner with you, and help you and opportunities will present themselves. Mindset is 90% of success and you can achieve anything you want with a combination of excellent skills, hard work, humility and grit.

Read the rest of our International Women’s Day blog series here.

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