Ten Questions - Beatrix Dart

The executive director advises women to be aware of stereotypes and biases in their work environment

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Beatrix Dart is the executive director for the Initiative for Women in Business at the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management in Canada. She aims to advance women in management and works with groups such as the Women Entrepreneurs of Canada to understand and remove barriers for women to business education. She is also the associate dean of the school, which is ranked 19 in the FT Executive Education ranking of open programme providers.

Prof Dart joined Rotman in 2000 following a successful career with McKinsey in London, Zurich and Toronto where she focused on serving international Fortune 500 companies in Europe and North America. A Swiss-German native, she has a PhD in economics and statistics and two masters degrees.

In her spare time, Prof Dart enjoys sailing, golfing, skiing and the arts.

1. Who are your business influences?

My work experience at McKinsey exposed me to some truly outstanding individuals, who helped me to grow professionally and personally. I admire people who can stay true to their values and who can resist the temptation of putting their own interests ahead of the best interest of their business.

2. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the fact that I can be an “intrapreneur” – trying out new ideas for the business school, from establishing a business plan to implementation. Although not all of my ideas are successful, there are always valuable insights to take away and the successful projects truly make the school stand out. New projects are also highly energising for the team that I have the pleasure of working with and new projects bring out the best in them.

3. What would you do if you were dean for the day?

Heavily promote Rotman’s unique Initiative for Women in Business!

4. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?

‘Whatever you do, do it smartly and think about the consequences.’ My teacher gave it to me in the Latin version: ‘Quidquid agis, prudenter agas et respice finem’ and it has been my lead motto ever since.

5. What academic achievement are you most proud of?

I studied physics as my undergraduate topic and it was a true challenge, but it completely took away any anxiety of models, numbers or other quantitative methods. This was remarkably liberating when I switched to study economics as my master degree.

6. What is your biggest lesson learnt?

My biggest lesson learnt in a professional work environment is the fact that it is not good enough to do something great, you also need to market yourself and bring attention to your great work.

7. What is the worst job you have ever had?

One of my summer-intern jobs required me to stand at the automated packaging line of a pharmaceutical company and package drugs into boxes. After four weeks, I was fully committed to continue with higher education!

8. What advice would you give to women in business?

Be aware of stereotypes and biases in your work environment. Our work in the Rotman Initiative for Women in Business has demonstrated that it is no longer the open gender equalities we experience, but rather the hidden stereotypes and assumptions which often remain unspoken that have career-limiting effects. Creating awareness and having the ability to talk about those biases and stereotypes is the only way to overcome those barriers.

9. Where would be your favourite place to teach?

I had the pleasure of teaching at the business school of INCAE in Costa Rica – the combination of very polite, engaged and appreciative students, inviting faculty colleagues and a fabulous campus in a great country was a terrific experience! And it even helped my Spanish to come along…

10. What inspires you?

I love visionary and strategic thinking and connecting the dots to allow me to collaborate with new (and sometimes unlikely) partners. I believe that we can all learn from each other and finding those opportunities to work together can be highly inspiring. For example, we created wonderful new partnerships from the private and public sector to support the Rotman Initiative for Women in Business, which encourages women to strive for their sweet spot in their careers, whatever that might be.

Compiled by Charlotte Clarke

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