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January 2, 2021

Social entrepreneur journey - Listen to our podcast

January 2, 2021

In the 4th episode of the social entrepreneur journey podcast, Thousands Eyes on me had the opportunity to interview Isabelle Mashola, CEO of isahit, a social impact platform for digital tasks.

Listen to the podcast here

Isabelle Mashola is a Senior executive with a strong track record leading the IT vision and strategy execution to drive various businesses and to transform complex international organizations. She is the CEO and co-founder of isahit, an award winning startup providing a social impact platform for outsourcing digital tasks performed by women from Asia, Africa and South America who are looking for additional income, to realize a professional project. Isabelle has an Engineering degree and has served in very high level positions at large companies including Business Intelligence director at Dell, Director of IT Operations at Cisco, CIO at Publicis for EMEA region. Isabelle is also ranked as one of Europe's top 10 women in AI in 2020.

A company that makes a difference by providing employment opportunities for 1000s of women across 32 countries

Isahit is a French company based out of Paris which is a socially responsible platform for outsourcing digital tasks. The company was launched in 2017 by Isabella and her co-founder Philippe Coup-Jambet and brings together an international community of over 1000 workers spread across 32 countries in Asia, Africa and South America. Isahit allows young talent, mainly women from emerging and developing countries, to work part time online to earn an additional income to finance their career goals. The hiters can work for a maximum of 100 hours per month for a duration of 2 and half years for isahit customers. Computer vision, NLP and data and content services are the 3 kinds of digital tasks that can be assigned to hiters.  Our lives are so entwined with technology whether we like it or not. This technology can be used to create a social impact in the society we live in. Isahit started as a follow up of Isabella's engagement with women during her career in big corporations . They created an association that helped young women entrepreneurs.

Isabella says "one might ask 'Why only women?' There are 2 billion people living under the poverty threshold and among those 2 billion people 70% are women. And so the idea behind the aid is provide women with this opportunity".

5% of isahit's revenue is reinjected into a program that help aid the most vulnerable through

  • Education - Education in the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world - Nelson Mandela. The organization provides education to women so that they can be prepared for the future and stand independently.
  • Financial aid - Providing women with the required financial funds to help aid their projects.
  • Resources - Having good internet connectivity is of utmost importance for survival in the VUCA world. Allocation of funds for better connectivity and access to the isahit alumni community is just a few of the resources that the program provides.

Isahit has a team of 20 people and celebrated its first anniversary in January 2021. The core values that the organization abides by are kindness, honesty and equality.

How to Build yourself to enter the C suite ?

  • It starts with you - Believe in yourself and work on yourself for you. Have confidence that you can do it. Do not try to copy people who are successful, you have your own unique identity. How would the world have turned out to be if everyone was the same? None of the revolutionary findings and innovation would have happened. So just be you.
  • Learn, unlearn and relearn - Keep your mind young, be open to new suggestions and learn new things. Isabelle says "When I do know how to do things, I have the impression I am not learning anything".
  • Have a network - We are social beings who are dependent on one another for our survival. Surround yourself with people who can help you and motivate you to get out of your comfort zone. "You can't succeed on your own. You have got to have a network that is going to help you in making it easier" says Isabelle

Queen bee phenomenon and finding work life balance

For those who are wondering what the queen bee phenomenon is when women in leadership and managerial roles reinforce the gender hierarchy by not supporting efforts to fight gender equality. Most often the reason behind this is the fear of replacement due to the few leadership roles and positions available for women. (For more details - Queen bee phenomenon). Information is power but withholding information with a false belief that it can help your career growth is wrong. Share and collaborate as that would help you not only bring in a new cultural change but also be seen as a true leader.

With more and more women in leadership roles, it is important not to compare yourself with your male counterpart. Masking emotions and not empathizing, which is often seen as a strength in men should not be a women's go to for a seat at the top. Instead the mindset has to be changed, a woman who is herself and can empathize and lead the team with a strong objective is what is required in society. Not women trying to be men.

Isabelle recalls an incident in her life where someone referred to as superwoman. She says that the concept of a superwomen does not exist. All of us have different roles and responsibilities in this fast paced life of ours. When we are performing extremely well in our professional lives, it is because we have sacrificed something from our personal lives and vice versa.

We all have 24 hours a day to distribute among all our activities. Certain days some tasks and activities would far precede in terms of importance and urgency and others may not. Therefore it is always a constant fight of deciding what to prioritize and engage with for the day. Should you focus on your professional life or personal life? Therefore becoming a superwomen is impossible. In order to gain something you have to lose something. The challenge will always be in finding the balance but the key lies in prioritizing. Organize your day and prioritize your to-do list. A very effective way to do so can be by using the Eisenhower's decision matrix.

On Leadership

"You never become a leader by yourself." Do things with honesty and transparency, being respectful and compassionate towards others. Everyone has a perspective of their own, so try to see the world from the other person's perspective. When you take the effort to do so, it helps you to view the same problem from a different angle and also makes you a better leader. "The best leaders have a high consideration factor. They really care about their people"-Brian Tracy

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