How CEOx1Day Allowed Me to Embrace Pressure and Take Initiative

Sharon Shamuyarira just graduated from the University of British Columbia and will be joining IBM as a Consultant in their Global Business Services in Toronto.

Andrea Scott (CEO, Skoah) and Sharon Shamuyarira 

Pressure is a privilege. I had seen the CEOx1Day ads in my newsletter and on the screens around my school, and it had never really occurred to me to apply. Like most of my female peers, I had unknowingly self-selected myself out of the process. The fear of failure crippled my resolve to apply. One of the male champions in my life, who was a semi-finalist the previous year, encouraged me to apply. 

After a series of leadership assessments and interviews, I was selected as a semi-finalist! I saw this as a massive accomplishment. On the day, I showed up in my most authentic self and engaged with the Odgers Berndtson staff and leadership activities. One of my key takeaways of the day was the Hogan leadership assessment debrief, a tool the firm uses to evaluate their C-suite level executives when placing them in leadership roles. The full report about me was comprehensive; it described things I had known about myself but had never been able to express so articulately. An example of this was I had scored in the 90th percentile for Interpersonal sensitivity which was described as “unusually diplomatic”. The downside of this is I have a thin skin and don’t handle failure well, which explained my initial hesitation to apply. The subtle pressure from my friend had opened this privilege of increased self-awareness.

A week later, I received an email telling me I was a finalist and had an opportunity to follow Andrea Scott, the CEO of Skoah! Skoah is a one-service line spa with 18 locations in Canada and the US, and is quickly growing. On the actual day, the first thing we did was have a conversation about how Skoah started; and how this was linked to Andrea’s core value of “listening to understand”. She then turned the question to me and asked me what my values were; I mumbled something about paying it forward in my interactions with others.  This was an eyeopener for me, I could not articulate what my values were. I felt pressure here, the kind where your blood pressure rises and your mind races. Again, I saw this as a self-development opportunity: defining my values would allow me to succeed as a businesswoman.

The rest of the day involved going to the lab to see how the Skoah products are made, meeting the rest of the team and understanding how different products are brought to market and promoted. We also had an opportunity to visit one of the franchisees who raved about the mentorship Andrea provides to her and how this has shaped her success. Finally, the day concluded with my first ever facial in the same room as Andrea, while we giggled like the best of friends.

Pressure is a privilege. CEOx1Day encouraged me to reflect on my values, experience real mentorship and gave me insights into my leadership style. The experience was instrumental in me pursuing and successfully landing a role in consulting with IBM, a company that shares my values.