Gina Lodge | 40 Outstanding global women 2023
In this latest in our series of profiles of women leading internationally as we head towards our International Women’s Day events in March, Gina Lodge, founder of World View, talks about her journey from leading IT projects early-career at Shell Chemicals International to this year’s impactful Reykjavik Forum of Women Political Leaders.
“We all have the capacity to learn the practical side of a role. But looking back, all that exploration and travelling around to different countries made me realise that what we had in common is that we are the same.”
Gina Lodge, CEO at World View
Gina’s personal motivations of “curiosity, collaboration, care and humanity” have real resonance today as employers tackle the Great Resignation. They are also inspirational for all women working in the international context.
Looking at Gina’s impressive CV, it might be easy to imagine there was a plan in place the moment she stepped into her first job. But as Gina is the first to admit, “there was no plan.” Now co-chair of the British-Swiss Chamber of Commerce, UK, Africa and India Chair of the Association for Coaching (AC) global accrediting coaching body, founder member of the Intelligent Leadership Hub, 100 Women @ Davos member and adviser for tech company, Ovida, Gina’s career supporting organisations and individuals to thrive is borne of a real desire to see the humanity in workplaces, develop and champion leaders and let this live authentically in organisations.
Gina started her career at Shell International Chemicals. Here she managed a range of teams, and worked with people in various countries around the world and led pioneering IT development and support. The authentic leadership Gina encountered throughout her time at Shell, together with valuable practical and cross-cultural experiences, provided the platform for Gina to ignite her career and professional development.
“My first employment at Shell International Chemicals has been a huge influence,” says Gina. “I went into the role with naivety and no expectations. As a young woman, I just enjoyed the learning. It was here early on that I realised the importance of the whole human in business.”“We all have the capacity to learn the practical side of a role. But looking back, all that exploration and travelling around to different countries made me realise that what we had in common is that we are the same. How we face life and interact with others is different, but it’s about having kindness and the willingness to grow.”
”These realisations have been a guiding principle and ‘North Star’ throughout Gina’s career. Taking up opportunities early to lead teams, Gina reflects on how supported she was – often in ways that were progressive, including senior leaders who walked the floor to garner colleagues’ insights. “When I was heading the IT development team, one very senior manager would come to our office and ask my opinions. Looking back, that was a real privilege and the sign of a leader ahead of their time. I look back with appreciation on this. I was also invited to senior meetings and asked to share my thoughts. People often talk about big companies in a negative way, but my experience was that it was a very good start.”
In common with many women, for Gina parenthood was a point where careers could be put on hold or reshaped. Like many companies then and still today, Shell recognised that it was losing women mid-career, often to be replaced by men in the senior talent pipeline. This remains one of the key factors behind gender imbalances in pay and boardroom representation. Three decades ago, Shell had started to look at what it could do. Policies and practices pioneered by companies like Shell are now commonplace, for men and women, and supported by wide-ranging legislation in many parts of the world.
“I was asked to take part in a pilot programme, which was how to engage with women who had career as well as caring responsibilities,” says Gina. “Shell organised people to look at local nurseries for example and report back to us. Part-time working at this level was also not at all common, but Shell offered me that as part of the pilot options for a four-day week without me even asking. They really were at the forefront of supporting parents and women at work.”
While Gina stayed with the company for a year after the arrival of her first child, it was the arrival of twins and a conversation with her partner that saw Gina temporarily step out of the corporate world, with the commute into London helping to tip the balance.
The importance of life-long learning and staying curious
While perhaps not the hoped-for outcome for the company, Shell’s genuine care and efforts to retain female talent have been amplified in the intervening years through Gina’s work and personal and professional development. Through Gina, it continues to create ripples of positive change. Away from the corporate world, Gina used her practical skills and volunteered at her children’s school to set-up new IT infrastructure and whiteboards. Gina also collaborated with three other women with international backgrounds to write a fundraising book.
As her three children grew up and became more independent, Gina’s thoughts turned to re-entering the formal workplace. Again, it was an enlightened job advertisement and employer that caught Gina’s attention. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I saw an advert in the local paper for admin work in what I didn’t know then was a coach training company. It was a work-from-home role, which was very rare, but it was that which piqued my curiosity.”
“The company was the Academy of Executive Coaching (AoEC). Here, Gina – supported by the coaching culture and the forward-thinking founder-owner – followed her instincts and passions to move from an administration role into marketing, then to marketing director. Then, after seven years in the company, to her successful tenure of Chief Executive, which also lasted for seven years, and saw the company continue its growth trajectory.
“The admin role was not what I wanted to do. It didn’t seem like the right fit for me,” says Gina, underlining the importance of taking roles that align with who we are and being aware of what makes us tick as individuals. “So, I was honest with the founder-owner, who offered me a different role in marketing. I had never worked in marketing before, but I love to learn and soon after was promoted to the board. It was a very fast trajectory that also cemented the fact that my favourite subject is good leadership and how we are always learning together.”
This step up to the board exposed Gina to all the moving parts of the company, from compliance to daily running and at a time when the company was growing. It was also the moment Gina qualified as a certified coach so she could “walk the talk”, something Gina valued from her time at Shell.
Building flourishing careers for everyone
Now, in what Gina calls the “third-quarter” of her career, she has handed over the reins of the AoEC and founded World View, a coaching, mentoring and thought-leadership consultancy, which supports DEI and champions a future-focused global mindset. This move was prompted by the recognition of “if not now, when?” This is something Gina says is echoed back to her from her coaching and mentoring clients.
Gina is also the chair of the British-Swiss Chamber of Commerce and recognises the fundamental importance of personal connections, mutual support and networks in business.
“My hope is that in a humble way, I can help people and organisations flourish,’ says Gina, reflecting both on her career and her involvement in events to mark upcoming International Women’s Day 2023, and her involvement at the Reykjavik Forum for Women Political Leaders at the end of last year.“
Networks and communities like 100 Women @ Davos, Think Women and others like the Female Quotient are absolutely key,” says Gina. “They are incredibly important as a space for women, and men, to connect, make contact and support each other. I always feel so energised by them because we all have something in common and we and can help one another.
“I can already hear the conversations waiting to happen at the Think Women event at the IoD on 10 March. There’s this amazing generosity of spirit from what we give to one another and share. It is a positive step and helps us all to grow.”