Stay focused on your goals and connect with people

International Women’s Day has a history stretching back over more than 100 years. Since then, the fight for women’s rights has been going on all over the world. Since then, people have been using this platform each year to draw attention to injustices and discrimination against women.

International Women's Day

Since then, this day has been an annual opportunity to address diverse issues: better education for girls, equal pay for equal work, and ending oppression and violence against women and girls. Even now, in 2022, the fight for women’s rights is not over. Gender equality is still an issue across the globe. And this day draws attention to these problems. 

The theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is “break the bias”. It’s all about promoting equality by breaking down the stereotypes and prejudices we all still have in our heads.

Germany’s gender quota legislation was updated in 2015. This law mandates a quota of at least 30% women on the supervisory boards of publicly traded companies in Germany, applying to new appointees joining boards as of 2016. In 2021, the Second Leadership Positions Act came into force. It contains binding requirements for the economy. If the executive board of a listed company with equal co-determination has more than three members, it must in future be composed of at least one woman and at least one man.

METRO also pursues the goal of raising the share of women in leadership roles: 25% of positions in the first tier below the top management level and 40% of positions in the second tier are to be held by women in 2025.

METRO is working equally diligently toward the target it has set itself of filling 30% of leadership roles worldwide at METRO Wholesale with women.

What does that look like in the real world? We present 5 store managers who are pursuing their careers while striking a balance between work and family. They illustrate that at METRO, we are taking action to promote gender equality.

Linda Kwanten-van Gerrevink, Store Manager at MARKO Netherlands

Linda Kwanten-van Gerrevink, Store Manager at MARKO Netherlands

My tip for women: Stay focused on your goals and connect with the people you think are good leaders and ask them for feedback. Be straightforward and stay true to your own beliefs. Show real interest in the people you work with and be authentic.

So far, I am the only female Store Manager in the Netherlands. In total we are a team of 17 Store Managers. Because I have done a lot of different jobs at MAKRO, I have a lot of knowledge about various topics, and I am not afraid to speak my mind – for example in Store Manager meetings. I feel fully accepted by my colleagues.

I think it is good to have a mix of male and female leaders in a company to have a better reflection of society and diversity in the teams. When both partners work, it is normal and healthy to share the tasks at home as well. The most important thing is to have a good safety net at home so that you can be present at work when you are needed there. And also, to have good people around you in the business who can step in if there is an emergency at home.

Benedicte Lemeteil, Store Manager at METRO France

Benedicte Lemeteil, Store Manager at METRO France

My tip for women: Embarking on this professional adventure must be carefully thought out. It is a very stimulating, enriching and comprehensive job in terms of skills development. However, this work requires a lot of investment in terms of time as well as energy. Put out of your mind the concern that things will be more complicated because you are a young woman. The important thing, in my opinion, is to be well rounded, whether in your private or professional sphere.

When I started my position as Store Manager, my son was 1 year old. Finding the right balance between professional fulfillment and my personal life was essential and one of the prerequisites for success in my new position. From the beginning, I convinced myself that it was possible to be a young female manager with a young child. I regularly look in the rear-view mirror and ask myself if my work-life balance is right. The important thing, in my case, is to always be alert to this subject and I don’t let myself be driven by everyday work.

I think the important thing is not so much about ratios of women to men, but about valuing skills. Parity brings meaning and synergy to a team and allows us to share points of view that may sometimes diverge. Generally speaking, mixing teams, whether by age, experience level, gender or seniority, for example, is the best way to make the team grow.

Roha Khawaja, Store General Manager at METRO Pakistan

Roha Khawaja, Store General Manager in METRO Pakistan

My tip for women: Any woman who has the urge to go up the ladder needs to be headstrong enough to be able to make daily decisions. Challenges are to be faced with great grit, and never giving up is the way forward.

It is an exciting opportunity to have remarkable experiences, rising to daily challenges with great coaching, while embracing the diverse wholesale industry practices. 'Enabling people', coupled with being empathetic towards my colleagues is my forte.

Leading with both heart and mind to generate what is required is how I get things done. I firmly believe that spreading a clear message of equal opportunity for everyone brings positive and constructive change to any organisation.

Urbashi Bajaj, Store Manager at METRO India

Urbashi Bajaj, Store Manager at METRO India

My tip to women: Please believe that you can achieve your dreams only when you have the courage to follow your heart and its intuition. Believe me, you already know what you truly want to become. As someone rightly said: if you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun. So just go and get it!

I would like to begin with a quote by Dolly Parton: “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” I consider this the mantra of my life. The key to this workable philosophy is to schedule your priorities and then work towards them relentlessly. Like many other working women, my morning begins with juggling between the demands of work and personal life but as the day proceeds the target charts, planning, virbant floor, enthusiastic staff and enthralled customers give me the drive to move ahead.

The rising sales numbers and appreciation from the happy customers definitely acts like dopamine for me to keep myself and my team on top of the things for the rest of the day.

Because I realised that it is commonplace to check emails at odd hours, take business calls at the dinner table and work on our laptops on weekends, I try to balance it out with some reading time, weekend get-togethers, and a physical exercise regime, and these have definitely proven to be fruitful and productive.

Kimberly Nonio, Store Manager at METRO Italy

Kimberly Nonio, Store Manager at METRO Italy

My tip for women: As a woman it’s important for me to encourage young women to believe in their possibilities and to allow themselves to be able to achieve the role they want. The advice I give to women is not to be afraid, to ask, try hard and have a good time.

I have been working at METRO for almost 18 years, in the position of Store Manager for the last 2 years. During this time, I have gained many skills and competences to lead a team. Ambition, tenacity, and awareness of oneself and what one is capable of are qualities that have enabled me to adance to this role.

My daily challenge is to observe people, understand their potential and help them develop their skills and competences to achieve all goals together and build a cohesive, coherent and interdependent team.

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