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helps you in your leadership.
Name: Svetlana Gershman
Title: Vice President
A seasoned professional, Svetlana is accustomed to taking ambiguous business questions and shaping a roadmap for actionable answers. She is known for innovative approaches to tricky problems and stays engaged in the market research community as a board member of Puget Sound Research Forum, a Seattle-based association of insights professionals.
A graduate of the University of Washington Foster School of Business, Svetlana is a technology enthusiast, fashionista, and online shopaholic. A true Pacific Northwesterner, she's also into skiing, hiking, and just about anything outdoorsy. Born in Russia, Svetlana has a true bi-cultural perspective and loves to travel. She is a self-taught cook and a foodie. Svetlana is a music enthusiast and a theater lover. Most of her leisure time is spent with the loving husband and amazing three kids.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
The most challenging, throughout my career, has been dealing with Imposter Syndrome. Though we came a long way, women are still viewed as less competent than their male counterparts, no matter the experience. This amplifies even further when a woman is married with kids.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Becoming a leader was a transformation through time. At some point, I decided to take charge and "just go for it." Leader is not a title that is given to you. It is a state of mind, and you have to train yourself to accept it.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I work across a variety of timezones, with some of my team members being 12 hours ahead of me. Throughout my career, I learned how to become flexible. This might mean that you wake up for a 6:30 am day one day but stop working earlier. Other days, it might mean that you start later in the day because you had to catch up with your team members across the globe the evening before.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
I recently learned to never doubt myself and speak my mind. It never helps to keep frustration to yourself. If there is a conflict with others, either at work or in personal mind, logic and conversations are the best way to overcome it.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
"Leveling Up: 12 Questions to Elevate Your Personal and Professional Development" by Ryan Leak. This book brought the focus on my goals and helped me understand what I am trying to achieve. It also taught me how to lead myself. I truly believe that, before leading others, one needs to look inside themselves to understand how others are perceiving you from outside in. This book really helps bring this perspective to light.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
I would say to learn how to listen and hear what others are saying. Miscommunication is the biggest hurdle and the greatest cause of conflict. What you think you know about others, and yourself, is not always the truth. It might be a perception. Talking through things and hearing what others have to say is the best remedy to it.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
At the beginning of my career, when I was managing a research project team, I had one team member, after whom I always changed things before delivering them to the client. Some analysis was off, some takeaways weren't crisp enough. After learning about this, my manager advised me to comment on deliverables, instead of making changes. Through multiple iterations and conversations, the analyst's work started to improve. I had to spend less time on final reports before they went out to the client. Since then, I made it a practice to never make changes for others, without showing them what the changes are.