Breaking stereotypes and taking risks: Insights from four women leaders


Last week, our Rokt Sydney office was joined for a Womxn Who Rokt panel featuring women leaders across industries. The panelists, Melinda Petrunoff (Country Manager at Pinterest), Lauren Ahern (Head of Partnerships at Alquemie Group), Michaela Michaut (Head of Customer Acquisition and Retention at Cotton On Group), and Michelle Rando (Head of Acquisition and Engagement at Mosaic Brands), shared their professional backgrounds and how they’ve navigated being a woman in a leadership role.

Overcoming stereotypes in the workplace

When asked how they’ve handled stereotypes about their gender, Michaela Michaut shared how she felt intimidated as a young woman engaging with peers in male-dominated departments. She felt the need to mimic behaviors that she thought would be valued and increase her influence. However, she soon realized that leaning out of her strengths was taking away her power. “By leaning into my strengths,” she said, “is what allowed me to regain my power.” She shared that it’s not the people at the other side of the table that make you worthy of your seat, it’s what you bring to the table that matters. 

Lauren Ahern previously worked in a tech role, and for her, proving credibility was one of the biggest stereotypes she had to overcome which she did by learning to trust in her own voice. “As you get those wins and you fight those stereotypes and you speak up and you realize that once you kind of fight that barrier, people are really impressed and then they lose that stereotype in their own head,” said Ahern. 

Learning moments and taking risks

As leaders, these women have had to navigate challenges and learning moments to help them grow throughout the course of their careers. Melinda Petrunoff spent a period of her career in Singapore which brought about new challenges to her management. “What I found challenging was getting my team to feel comfortable speaking to me and participating. The importance of appreciating differences in people, communications styles and therefore understanding people’s background, which plays a huge role in their comfortability to speak” said Petrunoff. 

Especially in a leadership role, these women have taken risks throughout their professional journey that have helped them learn along the way. Michelle Rando shared when she was new to a role that was complex and out of her wheelhouse. She kicked off a redesign project, received buy-in from her entire team, but when it got to the building stages, wasn’t able to come to fruition. “In terms of failure, we really have to look at it as a way to not take it to heart, but to view it as a valuable experience,” said Rando. 

Learning through failure is also a crucial aspect of leadership. Michaela shared that she feels failure the most when she misses the mark with her team. “The learning then is how do you ensure that next time you are there for your team? And definitely do not repeat that same mistake,” she said.

We’re continually humbled to be able to partner with outstanding women from across industries. From this panel and beyond, we look forward to amplifying the voices of women who are impacting generations of women to come, fighting for a seat at the table, and continuing to implement change.

Learn more about how Rokt is fostering a culture of equality here.