“Achieving a thriving leadership role while balancing various commitments is a reality at CAMELOT”, says our colleague Aleksandra Baumann. In this article, Aleksandra provides valuable insights into how effectively she is managing multiple responsibilities. She shares her personal experiences, highlights the challenges she has faced, and offers practical tips for future leaders who aspire to navigate the same journey.
Hi Aleksandra, nice to meet you. Before we jump right into the topic of leadership and motherhood, could you please share your experience starting at CAMELOT?
Thank you for having me, and sure! I began my journey at CAMELOT six years ago, marking my first foray into external consultancy. Prior to that, I had worked in various industries and gained experience in in-house consulting. Joining CAMELOT presented an exciting opportunity for me. I wanted to work with external customers and experience a fast-paced and multicultural environment, where I could grow. I started supporting leaders in strategic projects and formulated data analytics strategies for master data in large corporations. Over time, I have developed into a leadership position myself.
Sounds exciting. So, what inspired you to become a leader, and what drives you now on your leadership journey?
I have always known that I wanted to take a leadership path, rather than an expert path, as we call it at CAMELOT. As a generalist, I thrive on gaining a broad overview of different topics and approaching things from a higher perspective. Engaging in strategic projects has always been a personal motivation for me. Initially, I was driven by a captivating topic, that revolved around AI in Master Data Management (MDM). This undertaking demanded considerable effort and energy, and I felt highly motivated. However, I soon realized that I could not successfully carry out such initiatives alone. So, it was obvious to me that forming a team was a pragmatic approach to moving such topics forward. As a team, we needed to grow together to push boundaries. Engaging with people and supporting them through change, allowing them to thrive in their new roles, has also been an essential aspect of my leadership journey. Being able to transfer my knowledge and values to those who join CAMELOT has been motivating.
And you really sound motivated. What do your team members appreciate most about your leadership?
Well, the team consists of ten individuals with diverse backgrounds and skills. I deeply value the input of each team member; I try to recognize their unique strengths and provide support considering their specific needs. Some thrive with close guidance, while others require more autonomy. It is my responsibility to understand where each person is at and strike a balance between offering support and granting freedom for their personal development within their respective roles. I truly appreciate the motivation and intelligence of the team members I work with; they are driven individuals. Additionally, I see it as my duty to match my team with projects that align with their interests and skills. This sweet spot not only keeps them motivated but also benefits CAMELOT as they deliver their best work, ultimately benefiting our projects and customers. At CAMELOT, we highly value our employees, regardless of their career level or personal circumstances, and strive to create an environment where everyone can find a place that suits both their personal and professional needs. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. And I’m not going too far out on a limb when I say that this approach is very well received by the team – although performances speak for themselves here.
From your experience and perspective, what is the most challenging aspect of being a leader and how do you tackle it?
Leadership presents itself in various forms. Sometimes, it involves assuming a leadership role without an official title. One of the challenges, but also motivations, for me, is to be authentic in how I want to lead – not merely as a role model but by truly walking the talk. If I advocate for valuing mental health, maintaining work-life balance, and setting boundaries, I must demonstrate these values through my behavior. Another important aspect is our mutual support within the team, regardless of whether it falls within our official responsibilities. We always help our colleagues if we possess the knowledge, skills, and perhaps even the time required. Balancing this challenge is both demanding and motivating and it makes me grow as a leader.
We understand that you are a parent. How do you manage the responsibilities of being both a leader and a parent and how has CAMELOT supported you in this regard?
I have been fortunate to receive wonderful support from my manager and the team. Before I went on maternity leave, I had open discussions with my team and my supervisor to shape my return to my role to fit my new situation and needs. I rejoined on a part-time basis, primarily supporting internal activities. We prepared for this transition, and after six to seven months, I resumed working full-time on projects similar to those I had worked on before. It was undoubtedly challenging, but there was no expectation for me to deliver from day one part-time at the same level as before. There was always a mutual understanding that my availability and priorities might change after becoming a parent. But also, the pandemic played into my cards. Our way of working at CAMELOT evolved towards more flexibility. I had the freedom to combine my personal and professional life. The opportunity to align my personal and professional development and the supportive work environment at CAMELOT have made it quite easy for me to fill both roles – the one as a leader and the one as a parent.
How you describe it, it sounds seamless. But being also a parent, I know it can also be stressful. How do you find balance as a parent?
Yes, I totally agree. Achieving balance is an ongoing learning process for me, one that I strive to improve every day. But of course, it is not possible alone. The work environment in my team at CAMELOT is very supportive in this regard, and, which for me is the most important factor, I have very strong support from my spouse. And very importantly: I actively seek help wherever I can. While I used to be efficient before, I have become even more efficient now. Prioritizing tasks has become crucial as I juggle different responsibilities as a leader, like managing projects, organizing events, and supporting the team. The flexibility provided by CAMELOT’s Flex Work policy enables us to harmoniously blend our personal and professional lives. When I’m with my daughter, I set work aside, and when I’m at work, I strive to be highly efficient and complete tasks promptly.
Do you believe being a female leader poses additional challenges compared to being a male leader?
At CAMELOT, I have never encountered any obstacles preventing me from becoming a leader. It was a natural progression for me, and I haven’t experienced anything that would hold me back. However, I would like to see more female role models on the management board in the future. Coming from Poland, it is ingrained and evident that women strive for and achieve senior positions in their careers. However, I understand that cultural perspectives differ, and one of my responsibilities as a leader is to demonstrate to other women that choosing this path is valid and should not be questioned. Gender should not be the determining factor in deciding whether to pursue leadership. It should be based on ability, willingness, and hard work. Whether leadership is the right fit for an individual depends on their personal inclination, and gender should not play a role in that decision.
What advice would you give to aspiring leaders?
Well, there are different forms of leadership. In the work environment, for example, younger colleagues could initially take on a partial leadership role supporting older colleagues on projects. But you can also exercise leadership in local clubs or organizations. It’s essential to gather these experiences and build a network of people who can support, guide, and mentor you throughout your leadership journey. If you feel ready for a leadership role, it is crucial to communicate this aspiration to your manager and work together to develop a plan and a clear path to achieve your leadership goals.
And to all women, I just can only repeat myself: You may want more, be ambitious.
Aleksandra, thank you very much for sharing your experiences with us! And to our readers: If the story of Aleksandra inspired you, reach out to her on LinkedIn or visit our career pages. You also have the opportunity to achieve great things with CAMELOT.