Championing female leadership: An interview with CMO of Skillsoft, Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek

This year, more than ever, diversity has been brought to the forefront in many forms, such as race, disability and gender. Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek, CMO of Skillsoft, spoke with Kavita Singh about some past experiences as a female leader.

Can you tell me some of the challenges of being a female in a generally male-dominated field like tech? 

I’ll answer this question with a story: one of the biggest moments of my career thus far has to be working on the Women Leaders in AI programme at IBM. AI is an actual reflection of who we are as people. These systems are trained by human beings, but the field is largely dominated by men. As the technology becomes more pervasive, there is greater opportunity for bias that could impact anything from HR and recruiting, to customer service. To me, it was very important to voice the value of making sure this technology is developed with a diversity of thoughts and perspectives. This is a challenge that I, because of my gender, was acutely aware of and, as a result, passionate about solving. More than anything, it highlights the need for diversity in leadership – we need equal representation.

How can women break that stereotype and attain these senior leadership roles?

In my experience, there are keystone skills that unlock access to myriad others. For example, there is tremendous value in adopting a growth mindset. Seek continuous development, look for new opportunities, and open up to new ways of thinking. From there, the possibilities are endless. For marketers specifically, I would say some of the best skills to foster are curiosity, listening and awareness. Ask questions; don’t make assumptions. Really listen to customers; be aware of what they want and what they need. All of this is critical to ensure marketing is done side-by-side with them, not pushed towards them. Especially in times like these, where so much is uncertain and changing every day, it’s important not to create problems and present your brand as the solution. Instead, take the time to uncover their true needs and understand how you can help.