Engineer, does 15 years he founded the consulting firm DINKA, where he leads an interdisciplinary team of 10 women. "We are empathetic, but we combine it with hard skills ", it defines. And it says that the smallest SMEs were the most affected by the pandemic.
Sandra Felsenstein is an Industrial Engineer and has a postgraduate degree in Strategic Marketing. Worked in industrial plants and in process reengineering. He also worked in a finance company, doing analysis of investment portfolios for foreign companies. In 2005, with 29 years, decided to set up his own consultancy, DINKA, oriented to SMEs and made up of an interdisciplinary team of 10 professional women.
Account that in its portfolio of clients some names of big companies stand out, but what 90% they are SMEs and entrepreneurs. “They are people who are very used to getting ahead and fighting it; the Argentine businessman is not usually in favorable contexts or has policies that usually accompany him. In this sense we have a great challenge, but the good thing is that the entrepreneur precisely because of these shortcomings developed the capacity for creativity and innovation to get ahead "describes Felsenstein, who was also a speaker at events organized by the Argentine chapter of Vital Voices, the NGO founded by Hilary Clinton with the aim of identifying and training women for leadership positions.
What did the pandemic reveal for SMEs?
The pandemic accelerated a process that was perhaps going to take place in 5 years. Companies that are more familiar with innovation or those that had already been working on their digital transformation suffered much less from the effects of the pandemic. The pandemic revealed where we are going and destroyed archaic preconceptions such as task control or pre-specialty. It was evident that from the consulting firm we always teach, which is that financial problems are not solved with money but with innovation.
What other consequences were there?
The pandemic also accelerated the need for efficiency in terms of processes and the use of technological tools that help make better use of time or work better remotely.
Was everyone able to use those tools?
The smallest SMEs, with less back, are those that, next to the productive (that require face-to-face work), were more affected. The biggest ones were able to surf the situation better and those that belong to the most technological category or linked to essential activities, they grew. Many of the more traditional ones went bankrupt and therefore the market share of others was enlarged and they gained in turnover. But it was because they fell by the wayside.
How do you rate the woman in the consulting?
Consulting is a man's world. I think that earning the right of floor is more difficult being women. Everything costs double because you have to break down the preconceptions of society. I believe that it is more difficult for women to sell ourselves. Even the least educated man dares to go to market before a. I felt the challenge of being a woman in areas appropriate for men, both in the consulting firm and in the engineering career. Due to DINKA’s intervention , after so many years of work, we have a portfolio of clients that supports us, but at first I felt that my word was underestimated for being a woman. Being a woman is a barrier to entry.
It happened to me that they ask me, how i thought i could handle, being a woman, a team of sellers. Skills are not given by gender but by training and experience in the field. Before starting with the consulting firm, I managed teams of men in the plant, and she was the only woman. From the Faculty I have a list of tremendous anecdotes, that involved even having to think about how to dress. When I started the consultancy I was already tanned and I think that also served as a cover letter. I am very persevering and never doubted the added value of our proposal. Today I trust a lot not only in my abilities, but also in those of the whole team.
Are women lacking in the hard sciences?
It is true that there is a lack of women studying hard careers, they generally choose softer careers and I think this responds to how socially we are pigeonholed men and women, when in childhood they raise us giving dolls to girls and building blocks to boys. However, I believe that there are abilities that women are born more naturally than men, like empathy. But that in no way implies a lack of skills to work with harder skills. In the consultancy, empathy is a fundamental tool, but it is combined with other hard skills, as dashboards, processes, indicators. That combination is our true added value.
Women are also lacking in leadership positions
The rate of women in leadership positions in SMEs is very low, what are the ones that drive the market. I think there is something we are not realizing. I believe that if we could encourage more and more women to reach leadership positions, or enter tougher careers, it would be a benefit for everyone. The man is more risky and it is something that women have to learn.
We are so perfectionists that in this search for perfection we are losing ground, just for lack of confidence. A man presenting a project speaks of it as a mega business and the woman as something smaller, although both are the same. Another reality is that household chores are not equitable and women end up occupying several roles simultaneously, so professional development becomes more uphill; It is more complicated if the responsibility of taking care of the children and the home falls on us alone. For all this, there are more female entrepreneurs than SME owners; it costs us more to take that leap. Contrary to what is expected and desired, the pandemic, regarding the division of tasks, made the gap between men and women grow. Although some men began to do some household chores that they did not do before, everything continues to fall more on women.
What immediate benefits would there be with more women in leadership positions?
First, for his capacity for empathy, a fundamental tool to have a motivated team. Women, usually, we are more orderly and detailed; two benefits when it comes to leading. And it is, Of course, the formation. I am not in favor of hiring a woman if she does not have a training according to the needs of the position, but it is also true that women, by perfectionist, It is usually more educated and is trained in everything it deems necessary to continue growing.
Por Laura Andahazi Cash.