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An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

BE A ROLE MODEL FOR OTHER WOMEN — This is probably something you may be before you know you are. It may be that it happens naturally, organically, spontaneously by practicing these habits. That is, other women will see you as you’ve seen your role models and they will mirror you as you mirrored those who went before.

How does a successful, strong, and powerful woman navigate work, employee relationships, love, and life in a world that still feels uncomfortable with strong women? In this interview series, called “Power Women” we are talking to accomplished women leaders who share their stories and experiences navigating work, love and life as a powerful woman.

As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jill Bausch.

Jill Bausch, a top head-hunter for international organisations has seen hundreds of women underestimate themselves and lose out on wonderful life opportunities. Her new book “Why Brave Women Win — Creating Your Path to Confidence and Power in the Workplace” is the cure to self-doubt and imposter syndrome. Jill has worked across the globe in the public and private sectors on five continents, and now shows women how to find and take on the success they deserve, while having fulfilling relationships and mentally healthy families.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?

I was brought up in upstate New York, the middle child of five, my father was a doctor and my mother a housewife until she got her master’s degree in her forties and created a path for herself outside the home. In my teens I was very close to a juvenile delinquent, in trouble a lot and doing things I shouldn’t have been doing. Because I was so disruptive to the family my parents sent me away to a boarding school, so hideous it made me sit up and think about how to craft a fulfilling and productive life. In my 20’s I married a British man and moved to the UK, and went on to live around the world including Europe, The Americas and Africa.

Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?

I started in the private sector and had great jobs in senior marketing roles in luxury hotels in the USA and Europe. That work became increasingly unfulfilling to me, and I wanted to do something that would matter and leave a legacy. I quite accidentally found an opportunity to get into women’s health issues in the middle of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and talked my way into a British Government training program to teach me how to help prevent people from HIV/Aids, where it was ravaging Africa and Asia. I had none of the skills they wanted but I crafted my way around those needs and learned things quickly and got the post. There were 600 applicants. It became my life’s work, and I felt a renewed fulfillment that my life had purpose. After 10 years as CEO of Futures Group Europe working in 50 countries on Aids prevention, I moved to the headhunting side and now hire top people to run organizations like the United Nations to keep working to raise women up, get them out of poverty, give them a voice and education so they and their families can achieve and live full lives.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

This is an excerpt from my book ‘Why Brave Women Win.”

I was sitting in the hot tub on the roof of the Maurice Hotel in Paris, in the presidential suite, alone.

In the last hour, the expert staff at this 5-star+ hotel have delivered a two-foot ice sculpture, a bottle of Tattinger Champagne and a tray of foie-gras to my suite. I’m Director of Marketing Communications for Intercontinental Hotels for Europe, Middle East, and Africa. When I stay in one of the hotels, they bestow their best treats on me because it bodes well for them if I “experience” the exemplary attention they bestow on guests. But every time some gloved butler brings something else, with each rap on the door, I feel emptier.

In every hotel, in all these exotic locations around the globe, it’s the same. In all these places, the 5-star excess is giving me a 1-star feeling in my gut. The contradictions in the world are troubling me because the poor get poorer, the rich get richer, and the divide gets wider every year. I know I’m lucky to have the job, live the life, and all that comes with it, plus a supportive husband and two small children at home but, suddenly, it’s not enough. The job is increasingly meaningless to me. I don’t want my legacy to be a solitary life feathering my nest without purpose. I’ve been feeling this way for a while, and I know something must change. I’ve spent 10 years in senior roles in Hyatt, Marriott and Intercontinental Hotels and been all around the world. Increasingly, that just isn’t enough.

I’ve reached the point where the reason for marketing luxury hotels completely eludes me, and I go home every night feeling like life is passing but I’m not learning, not growing. I’ve hit my limit at this conference, so I leave the conference room, head to the lobby of the hotel and order an expensive coffee while sitting by the hotel’s front windows, which face Buckingham Palace.

Absentmindedly, I pick up a London magazine I would never normally read and flip to the ads in the back. There, I find an advertisement for a job in the Department for International Development (DFID), the agency of the British government that bestows monetary aid on developing countries in need. They are looking for marketing experts to train in social marketing. I’ve never heard of social marketing but quickly learn that it’s marketing products and services for social good — with an emphasis on halting the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic which is ravaging Africa and Asia — by creating marketing and education programs for poor people at risk of contracting AIDS.

I am instantly energized by the idea of this new job; one I know I can do with my whole heart and soul. The ad says the government will train those they accept in the areas of sexual health, social marketing, and working within aid agencies, then employ them in British government aid programs.

Then came the bad news, I found some roadblocks. Candidates must have the following:

  1. British Citizenship. (I did not, although I was married to a British citizen.)
  2. Commercial FMCG experience. (Another hurdle — FMCG stands for “fast-moving consumer goods” and hotels certainly are not.)
  3. Professional experience in women’s health issues. (Besides actually being a woman, I had none.)
  4. Experience in poverty-stricken countries in Africa and Asia. (The closest I could get was a visit with my sister to Nepal a few years prior, when she adopted my niece. My title might be Director of Marketing Communications Public Relations for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, but our hotels are in major cities — Cairo, Amman, Delhi — where the poor congregate outside the doors to beg. Hardly the experience they were seeking.)

Still, I tore the ad out, downed my coffee, and, instead of returning to my office, I went home and applied for the job. I later found out they had six places to fill and over 600 applicants. My chances were not looking good.

On the London tube (the British name for the subway) heading home, I thought, I don’t have anything they have asked for, but I do have two things they didn’t ask for.

1. Confidence.
2. The ability to learn anything that I put my mind to, if I care enough about it.

So, I waited. And waited. And one evening, I came home from work to hear a phone message thanking me for the application, but sorry, DFID said I did not meet any of the criteria they were seeking. I listened to the message, and as I heard it, I simply sat down and cried. My four-year-old daughter, Hannah, was next to me when I heard the message. I excused myself from her to go to my bedroom and have a real wail. I stewed in my sadness overnight and tried to reconcile this lost opportunity. Then I decided to use the power I had. I pulled out my two secret weapons: confidence and my ability to learn.

I rang DFID the next morning and asked who oversaw this program. To my surprise, they gave me a name. Even more remarkably, when I asked to speak to him, they put me through. A kindly male voice asked if he could help me and, when I asked if I could speak to the head of hiring for this post, he replied, “That’s me.”

I thanked him for taking my call, told him my application had been turned down but that I felt I had a lot to offer. Knowing that a personal meeting face to face is almost always best, I asked him if he would give me 15 minutes to talk if I came to his office, with the promise that I would not stay longer, I would not stalk or pester or plead with him when he said the meeting was over.

Astonishingly, he agreed.

I planned those 15 minutes very carefully and, on the appointed day, sat down with the gentleman. The details of the conversation are unimportant, except that, when I was done, he started a conversation that lasted, all-in-all, about two hours. I left his office with the job in hand. Life then pivoted for me enormously. I was now moving in the right direction. Over the next two years that I worked for DFID, and the following 10 years as CEO of Futures Group Europe, I had tremendous opportunities to learn, to grow, to give, and to take back some of my own power — power I felt I’d lost in the grind of my hotel PR life, which had lost its meaning for me.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. The premise of this series assumes that our society still feels uncomfortable with strong women. Why do you think this is so?

Society sometimes rewards men for being strong and criticizes women for showing strength. Words like ‘feisty’ will be applied to a woman when she speaks out, but a man will be called assertive, as a compliment. In western societies women are still expected to be subservient to men, and some men, still warn women not to become ‘emotional” because they don’t know how to handle a woman that shows up, stands up and speaks out. Women need to show they can be strong without being loud and aggressive and we need to call on and mirror our great female role models that have proven this to work, like Michele Obama, Christine La Garde, and Angela Merkel.

Without saying any names, can you share a story from your own experience that illustrates this idea?

Early in my career, I was appointed Manager of Public Relations for North America for Hyatt Hotels. I was just 25, so had a few years under my belt, but was looking for female role models. I was hired after several tough interviews, including a few with my potential direct supervisor, a woman in her late thirties. During the extensive interview process, she was open, charming, and supportive.

On my first day in the job, she criticised the business suit I was wearing, swore at me, gave me press releases to draft, and then took her red pen to savage them. Her face the colour of her pen, she would burst into my office, just across from hers, with floor to ceiling glass walls, throwing red-marked documents on my desk, scribbled with expletives. What came out of her mouth in these outbursts was more of the same — loud and angry.

For two years, I continued working in this environment, not knowing when I arrived in the office each day (early every day) whether she would sing-song “Good morning!” or shout “Get the ꭍμ¢₰ in my office, right now!”

She confused solving a problem — my style of writing, which was raw back then but improved over time — with creating stress and controversy. I spent many long nights up with a colleague and friend trying to decide if I should go to HR to complain or go over her head to her boss, or simply quit. I’ve always believed that going over the head of your boss can be suicide, but after getting a lukewarm response from HR, who simply shrugged and said, “Well, we know about her but that’s the way she is.” I went to her boss; at that point, I had nothing to lose.

I had come to the place where it was quit or seek advice from her supervisor. So, I asked for a meeting with her boss, the Vice President. He made time for me privately. To my surprise, when I told him the situation and that I was near resigning, he calmly said, “Don’t let her do it.”

What? How would I just “not let her do it”? He explained that he would intervene if he had to, but that I was fully capable of managing this situation. He told me he had faith in me and that the next time she treated me in an aggressive and disrespectful way, I should simply say, “I’ll speak to you about this topic only if we mutually speak in a respectful tone, without angry shouting and aggressiveness.” I went home that night, thought hard about whether I could do this, and decided to be brave.

The next morning when she shouted, “Jill, get the ꭍμ¢₰ in my office, now!” I went into her office, and when she started delivering the loud angry diatribe at me, I was terrified, but said, as the VP advised, “I’ll speak to you about this only if we mutually speak in a respectful tone, without angry shouting and aggressiveness.” I then turned and walked out of her office and into mine and sat down. Unsurprisingly, she went ballistic and came after me. I repeated the same again and, after the third repetition, she stormed out and left the office. I did not see her again that day.

The next day, and every day afterwards, she never raised her voice, she never wrote the red scribbled expletives, I never saw the shouting red face. I took her (now calm and helpful) suggestions on how to improve very seriously. I learned many lessons there, but perhaps the most valuable lesson is that being motivated by fear never solves problems, it only corrupts and creates tension. And, that power is standing up and speaking out against wrongs done to all of us.

What should a powerful woman do in a context where she feels that people are uneasy around her?

There are many tools for this. Listening is the first one. Most people don’t listen fully, hear fully, and engage fully. In my book, I explain the differences between level 1, 2, & 3 listening. If other people are uncomfortable, directly asking about their discomfort and truly listening to what would increase their comfort is within everyone’s toolbox.

Learn about levels of listening and adjust your behavior accordingly to win.

What do we need to do as a society to change the unease around powerful women?

One by one talk about the courage of women, that their novices are also be safe spaces in which to speak up and they do not have to denigrate others to get positive messages across.

In my own experience, I have observed that often women have to endure ridiculous or uncomfortable situations to achieve success that men don’t have to endure. Do you have a story like this from your own experience? Can you share it with us?

I had to suffer through daily sexual harassment in London as senior executive at a young age, 27. If I had complained to the HR department, they would have laughed me out of the office or fired me. It was daily, relentless, vulgar, and corrupt. But I had to endure it to keep my job and excel. And this was in the headquarters of a well-known luxury hotel brand.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women leaders that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Comments about their sexuality or appearance, lower pay for the same job, not getting the respect or authority given to their words in comparison to men, assumptions that certain tasks are ‘women’s work.’

Let’s now shift our discussion to a slightly different direction. This is a question that nearly everyone with a job has to contend with. Was it difficult to fit your personal and family life into your business and career? For the benefit of our readers, can you articulate precisely what the struggle was?

I was lucky and I was smart, and I watched and absorbed everything when I moved between countries. I had a great mentor/boss who allowed me to do the work anytime if it was done. So, I picked my kids up from school, never missed a rugby game or ballet recital, and did the work at night or early morning. Not every woman is as lucky. One of the best things the pandemic has shown us is that we can be highly productive from home, and we don’t need to congregate in groups at the office every day. Seek out an understanding mentor who practices tough empathy and respects you. Settle for nothing less.

What was a tipping point that helped you achieve a greater balance or greater equilibrium between your work life and personal life? What did you do to reach this equilibrium?

Read the chapter in my book entitled “You’re not-to-do list is your BFF.”

Women often think the more they do the better they are. When I began to believe the less I do, the better I feel, things got much better. I only do the essential things that give me fulfillment and I have committed to do. The other thing was to learn how to say NO.

I work in the beauty tech industry, so I am very interested to hear your philosophy or perspective about beauty. In your role as a powerful woman and leader, how much of an emphasis do you place on your appearance? Do you see beauty as something that is superficial, or is it something that has inherent value for a leader in a public context? Can you explain what you mean?

My undergraduate degree is in fashion design and my master’s is in Population and International Development. I love fashion and beauty and the businesses around it, and I love working in HIV/Aids and health issues. I wear makeup every day and am very careful about how I dress and present myself, for two reasons. My self-esteem stays healthy if l stay healthy and reasonably attractive. Secondly, I want my demeanor to be as a professional, not otherwise. Beauty and fashion are fascinating businesses, and many world economies thrive around them. After all, even the poorest people wear clothes!

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Powerful Woman?” (Please share a story or example for each.)


When I had an in-office staff, before I began working from home, I frequently used the “more of, less of” exercise. I mentioned this in a previous chapter, but it needs more detail here. It’s a way to give and receive feedback that’s low-key and gentle. I find most people are naturally reluctant to give feedback, particularly feedback that could be construed as negative or critical.


Performance feedback is a communications process. It should be ongoing, meaning adjustments are made based on the information exchanged between manager and team member. There should be regular follow up dialogue to determine success.


This feedback exercise is an example of a crucial conversation, and such dialogues require planning. My beloved, departed mother, Jo, would always say, “Imagine the worst that can happen. Plan for it, then everything else that can happen is better. After you do that plan, put it away and plan for a better-than-bad outcome. Then plan for the very best outcome you could have.”


First, crucial conversations are not chit-chat about the weather. Coined by a group of researchers at the turn of the century, “crucial conversations” refers to interactions of “high stakes, differing views, and strong emotions.” These terms are relative. A high-stakes subject to one person might be chit-chat to another. Likewise, some people are raised to never show emotion in public. To them, any display of anger or embarrassment or other feelings would be considered strong emotions.

Second, they’re so rarely conducted successfully via text, email, or chat apps, that such a plan isn’t worth considering. Crucial conversations need the human connection so that the participants can see, hear, and judge voice tone and inflexion; body language, like eye contact and posture; and everything else. Information is generally transmitted by the words we use, but the interpretation of data is very much affected by body language. Researchers have estimated that anywhere from 55 to 90 percent of communication is nonverbal. They add that, if there’s an inconsistency between the attitudes conveyed by word and those conveyed by posture, posture will be, in almost every situation, the more convincing.


Very few people see Plan A come to fruition. Good leaders always create a Plan B, a Plan C, and maybe several more if they think things could really go sideways. Look as objectively as you can at an upcoming crucial conversation and plan various scenarios in advance of those conversations to form a path to success.

Consider the following:

  • What is your goal for the conversation? What goals might the other participants have?
  • What is the relationship among the participants?
  • What individual strengths, weaknesses, or other factors could affect the conversation.
  • What outside influences may affect the conversation?
  • What do you know about the situation? What do you think you know? What are you sure you don’t know?

• Who is affected by the conversation’s outcome? Positively or negatively?


Many people have an unconscious, destructive habit. Either they ignore important issues, or they minimise or devalue things that are important to other people and, essentially, dismiss those things. Both are tactics used by people who fear contention and do their utmost to avoid it. This is another habit you should be looking for in yourself and proactively working to eliminate. Contention happens and pretending it doesn’t or avoiding it only makes it worse. As you get to know your teammates, it becomes easier to see their perspective and what you can do to accommodate their views without conflict. Sometimes, however, their priorities, which drive their perspective, are not so obvious.

As children, our needs are simple, and our attention spans very short. Children need food, warmth, and security, and tend to focus on whatever catches their attention in each moment.


Zig Ziglar, the American author and motivational speaker, famously said, “If you’re in something, get in it; if not, get out of it.” When you meet someone for a crucial conversation, that person and that subject become your top priority for those moments. Showing up is more than just walking into the room and shutting the door. It’s leaving your phone at your desk or turning it off. It’s telling your teammates that you are not to be disturbed unless the building catches fire. Focus your mind and attention on the business of the meeting. Develop the habit of recognizing and rejecting distractions like:

  • Fleeting thoughts, such as “I need to pay the utility bills when I get home tonight” or “What should I do for lunch?” or “Did my friend text me back yet?” while looking at your phone.
  • Topics you could discuss with the other participants — called “chit-chat,” “fluff,” or “squirrels,” among other things — that might be amusing, entertaining, or interesting, but distract from the goals of the meeting.
  • Rehashing parts of the conversation that have already been decided.
  • “Showing up” is discipline and respect.


One of humanity’s worst bad habits is our “need” to eliminate dead space. The awkward silences that arise every few minutes in normal discussions are disconcerting, but that’s casual conversation — no harm, no problem if nothing life-changing gets said or not. A few seconds of thoughtful silence that arise between a comment and a response can be vital to the success of a crucial conversation because, by their nature, a crucial conversation — such as my interview with the hiring authority at DFID — can be truly life-changing.

  • First, that moment of silence has other participants thinking, “You didn’t spend the time I was speaking thinking about your response, you spent it really listening.” That gains face and builds trust.
  • Second, it gives you time to formulate a proactive response instead of offering a reactive, knee- jerk response.
  • Finally, everybody’s heard the phrase “rush to judgment.” That’s the fastest way to end


By showing up and slowing down, you show the other person that you’re paying attention. You don’t have to agree with everything others say, but you must give them voice. As you do, you will, hopefully, come to a meeting of the minds — an understanding that this solution will meet the needs of all concerned and you all can proceed toward that solution with a clear conscience.

You can do more. As noted, I’m somewhere between an agnostic and an atheist, I don’t know how the universe works and don’t worry about it. But I recognize that any of us (maybe all of us) can be smarter and more aware than we are. We don’t always have to be satisfied with a solution that meet the needs of all concerned. Sometimes, we can make a miracle. We can be brilliant, see what has never been seen before and make it happen. We can truly innovate, by working together.


Assume means both “to take for granted or without proof” and “to take upon oneself.” Assuming the right to mirror confidence does both. Assuming the right to mirror confidence and, ultimately, to be confident, is the path to success. It is, in a real sense, the victory. If you, as an individual woman:

  • Think about how your role models confidence and ask yourself, “How would s/he handle this situation?”
  • Mirror the actions that follow from that attitude.
  • Respond to others as if you already have the confidence you seek.
  • Repeat this cycle until the act becomes a habit, second nature, an automatic response to any situation.

You become the confident woman you should be — the act becomes the persona. You win.


This is probably something you may be before you know you are. It may be that it happens naturally, organically, spontaneously by practicing these habits. That is, other women will see you as you’ve seen your role models and they will mirror you as you mirrored those who went before.

In many cases, it will be something you do:

  • Look around you, see who needs coaching or mentoring or just a little encouragement.
  • Adopt some obvious up-and-comers and some obvious strugglers as protégés.
  • Coach and mentor them, by example and by educating them in how the system works.
  • Encourage them to pay-it-forward by assisting those who follow them.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Arianna Huffington and Michelle Obama but best, together!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

Power Women: Jill Bausch On How To Successfully Navigate Work, Love and Life As A Powerful Woman was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.