In Conversation with Rachel Gogel
Business Today: What aspect of your career do you find most fulfilling?
Rachel Gogel: Honestly, I prioritize my team the most. I think that because of my past experiences with managers, when I became a manager, I really chose to make this a priority. I know that if you create a good working environment, good work will come from it because people are happy in the day to day, they feel valued, and they feel credited. A good team culture is definitely my priority, and from that comes feeling challenged, embracing the space, and learning as much as possible. Seeing my startup succeed and grow shows me that there is something happening that is working.
BT: What was one surprising challenge you were forced to overcome as a woman that your male colleagues have not had to face?
RG: There is one conversation in particular that really comes to mind. When I started at this current job I was told that I was going to be responsible for a team of junior designers. Soon after that, I heard that there were two male creative directors coming in at my level, but that they were not going to have to shoulder this same responsibility. At the time, I just wondered why, if we are all at the same level, these men didn’t have to do the same amount of work as I did. I embraced this extra level of responsibility, but, months went by, and earlier this year I wanted a title change. I felt that I was doing more work than the other two men and that because of this I deserved a title change. I had earned the respect and reputation to grow further than them. But, I was essentially told that I could not change my title, and if my title were changed, theirs’ would have to change as well in order to match mine. I had to accept that we were still seen as equals, even though I was doing more work. I do not feel that I work in a sexist environment. However, I have wondered whether this incidence was related to gender or maybe just company politics. For the most part, I am not going around day-to-day feeling as though I am inferior just because I am a woman. The whole advertising, marketing side of the company is led by a power woman, and so that has never really been something that I have had to deal with. It has really just been a conversation or a comment here and there that have caused me to stop and ask myself, “was this just because I am a woman or was it something else?”
BT: What do you think women in the business world can learn from women of our generation?
RG: I think that it is important to be able to inspire young women and empower them to make their own decisions. You may have a lot of pressure, from either your parents or yourself to go in a certain direction. But, what I have seen is a kind of shift. It seems to me that younger generations are more entrepreneurial, more into the tech scene, and embracing the startup life. I think that it is important to bridge the gap between higher executives and younger generations. I think that there is a mutually beneficial learning experience there. For example, we could learn about how the younger generations consume the news or media. Or we could look at the business landscape and make decisions based on what younger generations are seeing. I think that enhancing intergenerational communication is key. Younger generations need to know that being a woman is not a burden. It is actually really powerful when you feel confident and have certain skills and raise your hand and put one foot in front of the other. You can do anything.
BT: What is one piece of advice you would give young women looking to succeed in the business world?
RG: Stay open minded. You think you know what you want when you are young, but like I am still figuring out what I want. Clearly, when you get older, you either settle or it gets harder to move around and do a million things. I think that being open minded is important, because if you are so narrowed in on that perfect job and that one thing, that means that other doors could be closing. You ignore other opportunities that could have been there for you because you are so set on one thing. For the most part, I think that this could hurt you, because you never know where a road would have taken you. Going into fashion first taught me the importance of an open mind.