Owning Who You Are: An Introverted, Black, Woman in Leadership

Owning Who You Are: An Introverted, Black, Woman in Leadership

Cachet Prescott

Cachet Prescott

Global Head of People

Author

Jess Koerner
Senior Marketing Executive
North America

Arcadia: Tell me a little bit about yourself. We know that you’re the Global Head of People, but what else? 

Cachet Prescott: To be honest, I didn’t realize I was a people person. Before I jumped into my career, I thought that I wanted to do something more behind the scenes. I was leaning towards computer programming or something to that effect where there were less people. But as time went on, I realized that I really enjoyed the people aspect much more than I enjoyed the technical aspect of things.  

I kind of fell into this space. I took one sociology class and that changed my world. It completely changed my perspective on what work could look like for me. Since then, I’ve been leaning into all things related to particularly maximizing people. I like to see people shine in whatever it is that they’re doing. That extends to just who I am as a person, outside of the workplace, my kids probably get very frustrated. They will often say “mom, stop teaching me” but, there’s a lesson in everything. 

Arcadia: Are there any reading recommendations that you would suggest based on your sociology background?

Cachet Prescott: I’m always intrigued by other people’s stories, so my book choice aligns with that. I can’t remember if I read it in my sociology of conflict class or another class, but one book that stands out is not necessarily about the good aspects of humanity. It’s a book called Monster. It’s about a guy who used to be in a gang and his journey of gang life; going into prison; and how it had such an impact on him. Once he was released, he wrote the book and he became a motivational speaker. He is someone that really speaks to people about this idea of redemption. It was such a good book; I couldn’t put it down.

"Monster: The Autobiography of An L.A. Gang Member" by Sanyika Shakur

Arcadia: Speaking of journeys, can you share some insight into your journey as a female leader within Arcadia, particularly highlighting any challenges or barriers you faced along the way and how you overcame them?

Cachet Prescott: My journey really showcases the power of promotion from within. When I first joined Arcadia, I joined as an associate. I was a contract facilitator which lasted all of three months before I officially joined the team. Now, I’m the Global Head of People.

One thing that has been instrumental in my journey to leadership within Arcadia has been the advocacy, support, and sponsorship I’ve received from the start. I am so advocated for and sponsored at Arcadia that I know there will always be a voice for me even when I’m not in the room.

Probably two months into me being here at Arcadia, I was asked where I wanted to be in 3 years’ time. I was pleasantly surprised by the question so soon into joining the team, so I jumped at the chance to showcase my desire to take on a global HR role. I’m a visual person, so I went to Canva and created a vision board of sorts.

Lo and behold, I took on that role just two years later.

But of course, like you said in the question, there have been challenges as well. I come to work with 3 identities: three marginalized identities that intersect and create a very specific experience for me. I’m a black, introverted, woman in leadership, and those three things coming together can be very challenging at times.

When people think of introverts in general, they can see them as aloof, antisocial, or sometimes arrogant. We are often to ourselves, may not say a lot, and people may assume that we just don’t want to be bothered, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re just in our heads quite often. If you couple that introversion with being a black woman– there are a lot of stereotypes about what a black woman is, what she looks like, and how she shows up–it can be challenging.

My introversion is very contradictory to what one might assume a person in a Head of People role might be like. I’ve grown to be much more intentional about building those relationships. My goal is to really get to know people and give people the chance to get to know me. That builds a foundation for everything else.

Arcadia: How has the culture of the company evolved regarding gender diversity and inclusion since you joined, and what initiatives or strategies have been implemented or are now underway to support the advancement of women in leadership positions?

Cachet Prescott: As a global organization, we’re quite diverse already. One of the initiatives that we’ve put in place is proactively collecting information to allow for informed decision making when it comes to our people. We’re becoming very intentional. We started with our first employee engagement survey in 2022 because, in addition to diversity, there’s also the inclusion and belonging pieces of the conversation that are just as important. Yes, we have a diverse team, but it’s like Verna Myers says in her famous quote, “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”

“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”
Verna Myers
Leading Diversity and Inclusion Expert

The information we collect in these surveys is going to help us create the space and culture where people feel like they are truly seen, heard, and appreciated.

Arcadia: In your experience, how does being a woman in leadership influence your approach to decision making and leadership style?

Cachet Prescott: This is a tough one because I don’t necessarily think that it’s just about being a woman. I think all of my experiences and all aspects of me contribute to how I approach decision making. I don’t approach leadership as a woman, I approach it as a human.

Arcadia: I love that. So empowering. Can you discuss any mentorship or support programs that you’re a part of that have been instrumental in fostering the professional growth of women?

Cachet Prescott: There are a few different organizations that I’ve been involved with or serve on the board of. I was a member of CHIEF for about a year which is an organization focused on developing executive level women in leadership. Their sole purpose is to create a space for female leaders and help them understand what their development process should look like.

Another one is Fe League: I’m a member and I also serve on their board. They are similar in nature to CHIEF, and they have two versions. One that is focused on C-Suite leaders and one that is focused on female leaders in general. Whether you’re new to leadership and growing or someone that’s been there for a while, you have insights to share. It’s a great space for growth and development and a community of likeminded individuals who understand the things that you’re going through.

These are great spaces for women to have conversations that they’re not able to have in other places. They all have virtual components and many of these types of organizations have local chapters.

Arcadia: That’s great, what other advice would you give to aspiring female leaders within the organization or those aiming to break into leadership roles in their respective fields?

Cachet Prescott: One thing I really want to impress upon female leaders is that you deserve to be there. Wherever “there” is for you, you belong. You are just as capable if not more, capable, competent, and knowledgeable, of doing the things that other people are doing. Just believe in yourself and own your confidence: own your voice.

Own how you show up and again do what you know how to do. That’s one thing that I’ve learned about myself over time. Sometimes you look at other people and you’re thinking oh my goodness, I wish I could blah, blah, blah and the thing is…you can. Even if you don’t necessarily have all the skills in the moment, you can get those skills, but you have to believe that you belong there. It’s a mindset thing and there’s that famous Henry Ford quote: “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” And it’s absolutely true.

That’s all one component of it and the other is just about being unapologetically and authentically who you are. I mentioned that at times it feels like being an introverted black woman can be challenging, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I want to be who I am while recognizing that there are times to adapt and to be flexible because that’s what we have to do as human beings. Every bit of who I am has brought me to where I am and there is value in it.

Arcadia: What legacy do you hope to leave behind as a female leader?

Cachet Prescott: I’m a mother of three female leaders in the making, and I want them to see that they can. I want them to know that whatever it is that they set their minds to, they can do it. It is possible and I want them to be able to say at the end of the day “I can, and I did.”

I want them to feel empowered. I don’t want them to feel like the odds are against them. And of course they will be at times, but despite the hurdles and roadblocks, I want them to feel like “OK, yeah, I can do it.” It’s important to me that I set an example for them and that they take it well beyond whatever I could have shown them.

Arcadia: Your daughters have quite a mother to look up to. They should be proud. Final question, it’s an easy one: what song gets you pumped to take on the world?

Cachet Prescott: This is the hardest one! But one that always comes up for me is, “All I Do is Win” by DJ Khaled. It just gets you in that place and fills you with confidence to feel like, “yeah, I got this–I’m ready to take on the world.”

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Authenticity in Leadership: A Woman’s Journey

Authenticity in Leadership: A Woman’s Journey

I was asked by our marketing team to do an interview about women in leadership, about my journey as a female leader, and the challenges I have faced along the way. I’m afraid I have rebelled against the questions already, and instead have sat down with a blank sheet to try and openly describe my thoughts about women at work and perhaps my own feelings on the topic of women in leadership from my own experiences. 

The top lessons I’ve learned about being a leader, authenticity wins: 

  • Authenticity rises above gender 
  • Authenticity earns respect 
  • Authenticity inspires others 

Authenticity Rises Above Gender

I have always been inspired by other women I work with. Not because men aren’t inspiring too, but because women always seem to be juggling more – both in and out of work. After more than 25 years in the workplace, I’m a firm believer that equality at work for women shouldn’t be about diversity quotas. To me, it’s about the right person in the right role based on their talents. Gender, as I see it, shouldn’t be part of the discussion when recruiting or promoting someone. We should all have the same opportunities and chances to shine, regardless of old stereotypes. It’s 2024. 

Authenticity Earns Respect

Early in my career I worked at one of the big 4 consultancy firms with the Global Head of HR – a woman. Shirley was in a powerful role, but she was wonderfully genuine and approachable. She seemed unafraid, even when in a very senior meeting, a tough corporate environment and often the only female. It was as if she didn’t notice that. I was in my mid 20’s, not as confident as Shirley yet but was so inspired by her. She stood out next to the many senior men around me. I look back now and believe it was her attitude to communicating with everyone equally that set her apart. 

Authenticity Inspires Others

After my time with the firm, I lived for over a decade in the Middle East where I spent many of those years both raising my children and growing my own retail business. In an extremely male dominated world out there, I pushed against the larger retail giants to carve out a niche business based on customer experience. I ran my business authentically. When it grew and I had a large workforce of people working for me, I put fun, teamwork, and smiles at the top of the agenda and people naturally worked hard. I didn’t change myself in order to lead others. I led by example. I always wore a smile even when times were tough, I worked as hard as everyone else and made sure to foster an open team spirit where we all supported one another. Both the men and the women. I channeled my inner ‘Shirley’ and was genuine with everyone.  

What it Means to be a Good Leader, Regardless of Gender.

Some people believe they have to act a certain way when they reach leadership level ‘status’. The old clichéd leader, closed off from the team and overly direct in their communication style. They believe they have to suddenly appear stoic and very serious. During the Covid lockdown, a video of a BBC news presenter went viral. While he was live on air, his children unexpectedly entered the room and disrupted the live broadcast. His initial reaction was one of frustration and anger. He tried to hastily remove the children and maintain the traditional facade of a serious news anchor, as he must have felt this was what was needed to keep the respect of his role. I think in reality, people would have respected him far more if he had embraced the unexpected interruption with grace and perhaps even seen the humour in it.  

Everyone is human, and their being extends beyond their professional roles. To push the idea of bringing your ‘whole self’ to work is to push back against the old stereotypes. 

In Summary

If I reflect back on all my working roles, I have always been authentic in my approach. Asking questions when I don’t understand something, admitting when I’ve made a mistake and learning from it, and certainly putting authenticity into my sales & customer service conversations. In a world full of bravado and fearfulness, people have always responded well to me being open and authentic. You might call it being real. 

In my role today at Arcadia, whether it’s managing a team, working with my peers or leading a function, I put integrity and openness at the forefront of my communication and decision making. I am on a constant learning journey as a leader, I fully admit that I still get things wrong and I love the fact that we have a culture here at Arcadia where authenticity is celebrated and encouraged. If you aren’t learning or failing then you are standing still. And personally I have too much energy to be standing still! 

Whilst the world is looking for the freshest perspective on the best ways to lead, I don’t believe we need to look further than authenticity. To be authentic, in all scenarios and in all decision making, is to inspire others. And perhaps, women are just naturally a bit better at being openly authentic… 

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From Clueless to Fearless: A Mom’s Rise to Leadership

From Clueless to Fearless: A Mom’s Rise to Leadership

A 10-year journey of Carla Quiatchon, Project Manager at Arcadia.

Into the Unknown

 

I entered the corporate world at a young age. 

I had no idea what I was doing back then, clueless of what was happening inside an office. All I know is that I must get a permanent job. 

But life had other plans—before I even got the contract as a permanent employee, I discovered that I was pregnant.

The pressure intensified. I was under huge pressure of getting regularized to that first job that I was not doing good enough and at the same time, I was carrying a child. 

After a few months, the training was over, and I passed! 

After a few months, I gave birth to my son. All this happened really fast. 

The challenge is not over though, I had to face something more difficult. I had to raise my son alone at the age of 19, at the age when most of my peers were still enjoying the carefree youth.

Balancing Motherhood and Ambition

I was questioning everything. I did not understand where my life was going. Until one day, something had taken all my fears and doubts. 

I need to stand up for myself and for my son. I had to believe in myself again that I am a strong woman. 

My first corporate office became my second home. Some workmates even became my second family. I promised myself to take all the opportunities that I could have in this company. I need to bank on my skills because I cannot be jobless. 

It was more than 8 years before I had the courage to discover opportunities outside this second home. 

Empathy and Growth at Arcadia

When Arcadia opened its doors for me, I carried my story like a cherished treasure into that interview room. Arcadia and their people, with their discerning eyes, saw beyond my résumé—they glimpsed the fire within me. They accepted me, embraced me, believing in my potential.

For me, this change was not easy. Leaving behind my comfort zone—the familiar walls of my second home—I stepped into uncharted territory. The company that had honed me for eight years now lay in my wake.

I told myself that I must try something new, another skill that I can deposit to my experience bank. I was ready to embrace change.

Arcadia became more than an employer; it became my compass. Arcadia gives me a whole new level of understanding of the workplace and the work itself. I am only in my second year with Arcadia, and I can brag about how much learning I gained not only as a Project Manager, but also as a contributor to the company.

Here at Arcadia, the workplace wasn’t just about tasks and deadlines; it was about people. The threads of empathy wove through every interaction, creating a tapestry of genuine connection. I felt valued—not just as a Project Manager, but as a vital person in the company’s heartbeat.  Arcadia makes me feel that I am a contributor to the success of the company. They value my hard work and most importantly, believe in my potential. I am excited to contribute more and celebrate more success with the Arcadia people. I am proud to be part of this family!

 

A Journey of Inspiration

I finally understand why I needed my son at that early stage of my life. Why I had to go through all those challenges. It hit me like a sunbeam breaking through clouds: he was my catalyst. His tiny fingers pushed me forward, urging me to be better, to reach higher. If he did not come into my life, I would not have an inspiration to always push myself to be better…To be determined in achieving more.

So, fellow travellers, remember this: inspiration isn’t a fleeting muse; it’s a flame that burns within. It whispers, “You can,” when the world shouts, “You can’t.” It’s the wind beneath your wings, propelling you toward uncharted skies.

All we need is inspiration to always move forward. An inspiration that will always remind you to believe in yourself. An inspiration to keep us going. I hope you all find your inspiration in life. Find it, hold it close, and let it light your path.

May your life be a canvas painted with inspiration—a masterpiece of courage, resilience, and unwavering belief. Happy International Women’s Month to all strong woman out there!

If you would like further information on this topic please get in touch with us at hello@arcadiaconsulting.com

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