Lea Vajnorsky is an allrounder: She is Global Head of HR Change Management at Henkel and Founder and CEO at Wo\men Inc. one of the first networks bringing together career focused women including men to enable personal and professional growth as well as building a professional network. Part of their profits are given to organization that support women that have human right violation issues and low access to education. We had the pleasure to speak about how she manages her busy schedule, what makes her heart beat faster and what exciting secrets she hides behind her ambitious power persona.
TELL US WHAT HIDES BEHIND YOUR SLASHES?
Sporty Spice is quite easy to explain as sports really brings the spice into my life and gives me a lot of energy. I mostly love all types of intense sports such as HIIT, Boxing and Hot Yoga. I work out almost every workday, ideally in the morning as it gives me the energy I need to manage two demanding jobs.
Beyond that I consider myself a changemaker as I am at the forefront of driving change at Henkel through a dedicated Change Management role As well as with my role at Wo\men Inc.
And Femme Fatale should be obvious. I love being a woman and leveraging my femininity as a strength. A Femme Fatale to me is a strong woman understanding and embracing her femininity as an inherent strength and doesn’t put herself into the role of a victim very quickly.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL LIFE?
Not an easy question as both are important to me and I love my job as much as I love my personal life…so there is not really one life and the other. I believe that if you have the type of job(s) I have which I love then you don’t really consider it work but passion and feel a privilege to be able to do that and hence, you can’t draw a proper line between this and your personal life. They are intertwined and that is how it should ideally be. It took me about 10 years to get here and I am truly thankful that at the age of 30 I was lucky enough to now do what I am most passionate about.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE STRESS?
To me, it's all about prioritization. I have clear priorities that I regularly revisit to re-prioritize. Things that aren't really on that list get pushed away, not allowing them to stress me out. Priorities that do stress me out I handle best by making a very clear plan broken down into micro tasks. Apart from that, working out also helps me manage stress as it calms me down and allows me to be more conscious. Making room to focus on things outside work is also quite helpful in refocusing myself and reenergizing.
WHAT IS SOMETHING PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?
Most probably the fact that one day I would love to own a little flower shop. Another fact is probably my very sensitive side. I don’t explicitly hide it but I feel that my strong personality and professional dedication does somehow cover that up or at least people do not believe both can go hand in hand: soft and feminine on the one hand as opposed to ambitious and driven on the other hand. But then again, that is why showing the versatility in a SLASH series like this might help bring that better across and show that we as women unite so many different, often perceived as contradictory characteristics within us.
HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY WITH THIS IS HER'S MISSION?
Women that pursue a career tend to wear clothes that are very masculine given what is offered still follows antiquated ideas of what power really looks like: masculine rather than feminine.
For a long time, we as women have felt the need to play down our femininity and dress more masculine in order to convey capability and power. Women in powerful positions are also more scrutinized for what they wear as opposed to men. I can see how women’s desire is changing today and hence, I believe This is HER’s mission is responding to this increasing need of modern women. That’s why I love to be part of this, advocating and bringing authentic femininity and versatility back to work.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE TO HELP WOMEN PROGRESS MORE, ESPECIALLY IN TODAY'S BUSINESS WORLD?
The cry and need for female empowerment is growing louder but I feel there are too many events and get togethers without clear objectives and agendas. What is really needed is action. If you asked me 3 years ago I would have said we don’t need a quota to bring more women into top positions in but today I know we need them in order to change things in the short- and mid-term. Long Term I hope we won’t need them anymore. Nevertheless, I believe that networks such as Wo\men Inc. where women (and men) support and promote one another are essential and crucial to enable a more diverse workforce.
WHAT MANTRA DO YOU LIVE BY?
Don’t take no for an answer and don’t take mistakes too serious. Just make sure to be smarter when you have to make a similar decision next time. And last but not least: I am truly convinced, that regarding your personal career almost anything can be possible. You just have to have a clear focus and the ability to motivate yourself every single day.
A PERFECT DAY FOR YOU LOOKS LIKE?
My perfect day ideally starts with some sports and with some early work as I can better focus in the mornings, the perfect ending would entail a dinner with my boyfriend where he cooks for me - he is the best cook I know.
Photos by Cherie Birkner (https://cheriebirkner.com/)