International Women’s Day 2021 is a global day marking a critical call to action for accelerating gender parity. But it is also designed to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women — to ensure that their world-changing achievements don’t go unsung. This year’s official theme, #ChooseToChallenge, calls on us all to challenge gender bias and inequality, be that at work or in our personal lives, and to choose to seek out and uplift women’s achievements.
At Yext, we have amazing female colleagues working all over the world, and we thought there was no better way to show our support for this important day than to hear their thoughts on what IWD means to them. All of our contributors have also shared a book recommendation from a female author, providing a vibrant mix of titles for you to explore as you think about this year’s theme.
From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.
Amanda Chen, Senior Manager, Sales Operations & Strategy, EMEA
What do you do at Yext? I lead the Sales Operations team in EMEA with analysts based in London, Berlin, and Paris. We partner closely with the EMEA Leadership team across regions and functions on GTM strategy, forecasting and pipeline management, territory design, as well as sales system and process enablement to scale efficiently and drive the business forward!
What does IWD mean to you? International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate, recognize, and lift up all the amazing, diverse women in our communities from family to friends to colleagues and teammates. It is incredibly important to bring awareness to the progress and wins, both big and small, that we’ve made thus far, but even more importantly, acknowledge how much further we need to go.
Amanda’s book recommendation: The Power, Naomi Alderman
Dana Fesjian, Senior Technical Partner Manager, EMEA
What do you do at Yext? I am based in Berlin and help our EMEA teams – CSM, Support, Platform Services, TEM – with any questions they have with the Knowledge Network. I also work on and improve the publishers in our Knowledge Network.
What does IWD mean to you? International Women’s Day is a day for all of us around the world to remember all of the amazing women who have worked hard, had courage, and were brave enough to fight the status quo and pave the way for the opportunities we have today. It’s also a great reminder to us all to take some time out of our day to lift each other up and continue supporting global initiatives that support women.
Dana’s book recommendation: The Long Run, Catriona Menzies-Pike
Charli Rogers, Vice President, International Client Services
What do you do at Yext? I run the Customer Success team across EMEA, with teams based in London, Berlin, Paris and Milan. Our teams help Yext clients to adopt and see value in our technology, with the ultimate aim of retaining and growing these relationships.
What does IWD mean to you? International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the power of women, whilst reflecting on the work which needs to be done to structural and social changes needed to make equal opportunity possible. There is still so much more work to be done to level the playing field, despite significant progress being made in recent years. Inequity and inequality are still too common, and it is up to everyone, not just women, to address it. When women are confident in bringing their best and true selves to their work, amazing things are possible!
Charli’s book recommendation: Glennon Doyle, Untamed
Stefania Fussi, Director, Client Success
What do you do at Yext? I work at building and growing relationships and platform optimization with our Italian client base, working closely with our services functions and cross teams to make sure our clients can be well represented and supported throughout their journey in becoming Search-ready as well as making sure we can replicate and scale best practices across our regions.
What does IWD mean to you? International Women Day to me means celebrating all women! It means recognising the leadership qualities each one has within herself and the way they demonstrate these qualities in all aspects of their life. It means the powerful resilience and commitment women show at all levels. It’s an opportunity to remind the world women are a source of admiration, hope and inspiration through all their experiences and the grace and compassion with which they navigate life; whether that is working from home, leading a company, dealing with pregnancy or overcoming difficult workplace and social situations. I hope we all keep challenging inequality and contribute to forging a more inclusive world! Cheers to all women of history, those sharing our present and who will build our future!
Stefania’s book recommendation: The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership by Joelle Kristin Jay
Amy Reed Salgado, Enterprise Account Executive, Healthcare
What does IWD mean to you? When I began my professional career, I participated in many meetings where I would be the only female in a room with 50 men. Even when I would be the most senior person in the room, I have been asked to get coffee. Since those days, the world has truly changed (even though we still have more work to do.) I have a daughter ready to go to college and I’m so proud that she doesn’t even think twice that she can run a company, create a life-changing A.I. program and be whatever she wants to be. International Women’s Day is a way to celebrate how far women have come and how women can be an instrumental part of making this a better world.
Amy’s book recommendation: Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Mari Shimizu, Senior Director, Japan Marketing
What do you do at Yext? I am the head of Japan Marketing and I am based in Tokyo. I have been covering PR and Marketing since Yext started a business in Japan.
What does IWD mean to you? International Women’s Day is a day to honor the courage and determination brought about by the women who have played such an amazing role. I would like to make this a day for both men and women to think about and act on gender equality as a day to think about women’s lives in Japan. Happy International Women’s Day (IWD)!
Mari’s book recommendation: The Professor’s Beloved Equation by Yoko Ogawa
Kira Hundertmark, Senior Commercial Counsel
What do you do at Yext? As Senior Commercial Counsel at Yext I partner with our CE Enterprise and Partner sales teams in managing, negotiating and executing revenue deals and provide support to the company’s expanding European business including a variety of operational areas such as data protection, regulatory and compliance, procurement, strategy, Marketing and HR.
What does IWD mean to you? Since 1911, women have celebrated “International Women’s Day,” which draws attention to women’s rights and gender equality worldwide. In Berlin, by the way, IWD has been a public holiday since 2019 which is a great sign of the socio-political importance to me. The IWD is important to celebrate the achievements of the women’s rights movement so far, but also to draw attention to existing discrimination and inequalities and to encourage people to work for justice and equality, so that gender, as well as ethnic background or skin color, religious affiliation or sexual orientation are no longer decisive for someone’s personal and professional chances and development. Quoting the remarkable (and notorious) Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “Women’s rights are an essential part of the overall human rights agenda, trained on the equal dignity and ability to live in freedom all people should enjoy.”
Kira’s book recommendation: Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg
Kristina Geissler, Director, Client Success
What do you do at Yext? I run the Customer Success team in Central Europe out of Berlin, Germany. This team is the client advocate within the company. We are building trustful relationships to our clients and show them the value of our technology solutions in order to make them successful
What does IWD mean to you? International Women’s Day should be a day to celebrate and honor all the brave and fearless women who fought for their rights and equality. But it is also a day to make yourself aware of how strong and unbelievably efficient women are and to think about how women could support each other even better.
Kristina’s book recommendation: Don´t p@nic it is just technology- Kenza Ait Si Abbou
Mel Bickford – Director, Client Success Northern EMEA
What do you do at Yext? I run a brilliant team of strategic Customer Success Managers who own our customer relationships from end to end across a broad range of countries, cultures & timezones! We partner with our clients to ensure a strong relationship that drives value, helping each unique business across a plethora of industries ensure their business goals are achieved through our partnerships.
What does IWD mean to you? IWD is a welcome reminder of all the amazing women in each of our lives, no matter how far away, especially during such a challenging pandemic where so many of us have been separated from our loved ones. It is a day to take time to reach out to those female superheroes who matter most to us and tell them what makes them special to you. This day isn’t just about women though – it’s a day for every human on this planet to think about what they can personally do to progress the equality agenda on every front. We have a lot of work left yet and need all hands on deck.
Mel’s book recommendation: Dare to Lead, Brené Brown
Samera Makhloufi, Director, Enterprise Sales
What do you do at Yext? My mission is to align the value proposition of the Yext platform with the business challenges of our customers, to enable them to accelerate their business and improve customer experience.
What does IWD mean to you? International Women’s Day represents a visible reminder of gender equality, but also a reminder of all the gender inequalities that are all too often invisible. #ChooseToChallenge is not only a challenge for women but also a challenge for men who, alongside us, must accompany us in the fight we still face, in terms of duties, rights and consideration in the world. On March 8th, we are rebalancing the position of women.
Samera’s book recommendation: Witches, The Undefeated Power of Women by Mona Chollet
Anne-Laure Blondeau, Director, Client Success Southern EMEA
What do you do at Yext? I am based in Paris and run the Customer Success team for Southern Europe (France, Spain and Italy). We help our clients adopt and optimise their use of Yext technology and services so that they can improve their prospect and client search experience, achieve their business objectives and see value from our partnerships. What I particularly love about this role is seeing my team and our client relationship growing everyday!
What does IWD mean to you? International Women Day is a great reminder to acknowledge women history and progress made for gender equity and equality over time, celebrate women leadership and reflect on what still needs to improve. I feel lucky to work in a country and organisation where this is an important matter. I feel there is still room for progress. #ChooseToChallenge is an important initiative to encourage women AND men to think about how together we can further improve our organization, behaviour, social interaction and belief for future generations.
Anne-Laure’s book recommendation: Grit: The power of passion and perseverance, Angela Lee Duckworth
Erin Pfiffner, Design Director, Professional Services
What do you do at Yext? As a Design Director for our Professional Services team based out of DC, I am responsible for building and growing a world-class team of UI designers who astutely observe every detail of a client’s brand and whip up custom-branded digital designs for Yext’s products. I love working with brilliant creatives and engineers to help our clients and users achieve their goals. It’s the perfect marriage of art, technology, and psychology.
What does IWD mean to you? The #ChooseToChallenge theme is a call-to-arms to refocus and recommit to making progress towards achieving complete inclusion and equality for women. We haven’t reached global gender parody and there are adversities women face in their everyday lives that often go unnoticed or undiscussed. IWD is a time to bring awareness to both how far we have come with gender equality and intensify the conversation around what more each of us as individuals can pledge to change in OUR thoughts and interactions that gets us one step closer to seeing worldwide gender equality.
Erin’s book recommendation: InstaBrain: The New Rules for Marketing to Generation Z – by Sarah Weise (a friend from my husband’s grad school)
Tania Rahman, Social Media Manager
What do you do at Yext? I lead social media here at Yext! Anything you can think of that’s remotely social is within my line of work – whether that’s brainstorming ways to launch major announcements, working with our designers on creative strategy, serving as a liaison between client outreach and customer success and maintaining a consistent brand voice and presence on social media. I work cross-functionally with nearly every team at Yext – global marketing, product, revenue, recruiting – to effectively translate our values, products, people, customers and news to our social media audience.
What does IWD mean to you? Every ounce of freedom that is afforded to me today – my ability to choose, to pursue my dreams, to vocalize my feelings and stand up for myself, to vote – are the fruits of labor driven by generations of women before me. When I think of the countless sacrifices made by unsung heroes from every corner of the world, it reminds me that this enormous debt cannot be paid back – it can only be paid forward.
International Women’s Day recognizes the immense hurdles that had to be crossed to empower people like myself with unimagined opportunities, but it is also meant to ensure that we are cognizant of how much work we have to do to address intersectional inequalities and see to it that justice is extended equally to all people.
Tania’s book recommendation: My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor – a painfully honest account of the United States’ first Latina Supreme Court Justice’s upbringing and boundary-breaking career journey. Warning: be prepared to cry. A lot.