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Aspiring Women Leaders Programme

To be limitless is to know you have choices.

Katarzyna Moritz

Rider Operations Lead (EMEA), Uber

We have so many choices in life, to move abroad, to stay, to choose a certain career. For me, when I made specific and intentional choices for myself are moments when I feel limitless and authentic.

Considering herself a citizen of Europe, Katarzyna Moritz has made several pivotal decisions in her life resulting in major geographical and career moves - from being born and raised in the city of Lublin, Poland, to moving to France to continue her education, getting married and settling down in France, and recently culminating in a move to Netherlands for a career opportunity. 

From her starting point in information and technology, Katarzyna ultimately found herself working in operations and marketing-based roles in tech industry such as Amazon, Apple, and Uber. Smiling, she shared that she when she got her first job, an internship at Amazon after writing her master’s thesis on ecommerce, something which she dreamt about and at this moment she thought to herself: “Hey, I’m limitless and it feels great!” 

Now based in the mobility business unit at Uber, she works as a Rider Operations Lead taking care of the EMEA region, an exciting expansion that she took on with relish. Diving into her new role, she especially enjoys the diversity in the people she meets, saying: “I work mostly with local operations teams – it’s fantastic to work with them as the eyes on ground. I get to experience the diversity of the experiences from Cairo in Egypt, Paris in France, or London in the UK – it’s important to understand from them how we can keep the world moving and make an impact.”

“What I love is to listen to consumer calls or customer feedback, I think it really nourishes how we understand their challenges and how we can improve.” 

Something core to her belief, is the need to embrace retrospect for constant iteration, something that she practices through engaging with the riders and previously with customers at Amazon. She reflects that whenever she takes on a new team project, something that she anticipates is digesting what they have learned and even gets excited early thinking about how they can bring it to even greater heights in the next iteration. 

This was a topic that she also thoroughly enjoyed during her time at INSEAD’s Aspiring Women Leaders Programme, where Programme Director, Svenja Weber, shared about the importance of taking these learnings from the past and being open to having a discussion as well as seeking feedback. As leaders at Uber say - feedback is a gift!

“What really mattered was prioritisation of me, my career as a leader and also my prioritisation of my personal life”

It is important to Katarzyna to raise awareness for taking care of yourself, before being able to take care of the people you lead and even your family. The thought of taking a pivot or break from your career might be something incredible hard to swallow. 

Throughout her experience being a first-time leader, she benefited from her mentors who have provided her the safe environment for transparent conversation, feedback and examples about how she can manage difficult conversations across different cultural backgrounds. 

In exploring her working and leadership style, Katarzyna shares that she is a relationship-focused leader. She enjoys having 1-1 conversations with her teams; however, she maintains result-driven and employs these indirect networks to better reach her goals. Acknowledging that things may not always work out the way she envisions it, Katarzyna strives to always bring her authentic self to the table- to not be afraid of making mistakes, to always strive to be constructive, and dare to laugh at herself. 

She does find herself conscious of being afraid to speak in large audiences at times but sees growing encouragement from male senior leaders. Having had the opportunity to work with senior female leaders - Laureline Serieys, Stephanie Hughes and Renata Sa, she was inspired by their charisma and authenticity on her journey.

“I think it is important as a leader to be conscious of your strengths and weaknesses in order to use them wisely. On this journey, I benefited from mentorship.” 

And she is further encouraged by the presence of sponsors who have been pushing for DEI initiatives and encouraging women like her at work to proactively speak up. Specifically, she cites Julie Laboureix, a manager from her time at Amazon who had inspired her to grow both as a leader but also encourages balance in all aspects of her life from career to familial roles. She is also blessed by inspirations in Uber, Helene Barrot who as a mentor has supported her through her time in France, helped her gained confidence to pursue changing roles through to the Netherlands and apply for the Aspiring Women Leadership programme. She believes it was more than worth associated time and financial investment, and more! 

In today’s world, it is not just a story of women supporting women, men have also stood up as great allies, as seen for Katarzyna, who shares about Marc Gavazzi, Louis Raynaud and Roch de Longeaux, colleagues and former managers who are her go-to for constructive feedback and to share jokes and good times with. And importantly, her husband has been one of her strongest supporters throughout her career, constantly encouraging her to push beyond her limits. 

She shares that one of her role models is Marie Curie Sklodowska, laughing to be citing such a classic example. Marie Curie, in her career as a great scientist, inspired Katarzyna through her passion, her humbleness and her audacity to reach for her goals in a time where access to education was limited especially for women in Poland – gender and accessibility barriers which we are slowly dismantling only in recent years.

“Going back to school, in some extend, was a simple pleasure.”

 After nine years in the workforce, Katarzyna joined the Aspiring Women Leaders Programme to give herself a boost in her career and as a nod to her belief in lifelong learning. 

The programme provided her with the opportunity to take a step back to understand her strengths and weaknesses and to think about how she wanted to bring her authentic self to the table in both her work and in her personal life. Throughout this programme, she understood better leadership facets and, as relationship-focused leader, particularly identifies herself with indirect influence for strong impact rather than formal authority. 

This experience shared with twenty other like-minded women also showed her the great importance of peer groups and friends of learning, where she shares that that her coaching group has maintained their monthly meetings beyond the programme, noting that it has become a vital part of her network.

“I benefited greatly from mentorship myself, so I always try to give as a I receive.” 

Outside of her already busy work schedule, Katarzyna works with NGOs to help Polish students and young entrepreneurs develop themselves through networking events. Remembering fondly of a fantastic event which she co-organised with the Embassy of Poland, the Polish Tech Day, where she brought together several Polish start-ups to help them showcase their solutions to French investors as well as institutes. 

In her spare time, she also provides coaching for young students from her business school especially if they would like to pursue a career in tech. Acknowledging that she is barely scratching the surface of what she can do, she feels that gender equity is hindered by three key factors:

Access to education and training

Today, only one out of three STEM graduates are women, and something which she experienced first-hand from being part of the minority during her technical education years in IT. 

Katarzyna felt incredibly lucky to be awarded a scholarship for her to pursue her education abroad, something that helped push past geographical and financial accessibility issues, but she strongly believes in diversity and providing an equal opportunity to everyone.

The lack of female role models.

While it is a work in progress, Katarzyna would like to see more women in leadership positions and speaking up about their experiences and challenges in reaching there to break the barriers. This is something she has also been striving to also embody through participation in speaking engagements and panels which she finds are still heavily male-oriented.

The lack of work-life balance.

Being a young woman in her thirties, she admits that while her next goal is to embrace her current role and establish herself as an authentic women leader, she does have thoughts about pursuing something outside of work or about family planning. 

“Half the women who go into tech drop out before their 40s!” she shares, citing that its due to the lack of flexibility and adaptation at work for females who hold multiple roles in the society be it mothers, daughters, partners, leaders or more.

Katarzyna shares the following advice for women looking for empowerment. 

“Don’t be shy about speaking out about your aspirations, ask for feedback and ask for help, and always remember that you are not alone.”