Her Century is a female network with a focus on one-on-one mentoring for women. We encourage women to step out of their comfort zones and fulfil their personal and professional ambitions. Our mission is to impact the personal journey of women.
Olga Yanovskaya is Co-Founder of Her Century. She was born in Russia, lived and worked in Europe, Latin America and Asia. She is a mix of entrepreneurial spirit and a loyal corporate citizen. She is now a Spanish citizen, comfortable with 5 languages, working in Healthcare industry and living in Shanghai for 2 years.
Dora Ke is Shanghai lead of Her Century. Starting her career in management consulting and having obtained two master degrees in two countries by the age of 30, Dora strives to pursue more roles in her life as a mentor, connector and more in building an international MBA community, empowering women and helping people to build a unique personal brand.
Dora: Welcome, Olga. Could you tell us about Her Century? What kind of organization is it?
Dora: 欢迎你，Olga, 能向我们介绍一下她世纪吗？这是一个什么样的组织？
Olga: Her Century is a female network, the heart and mind of which is mentoring. Her Century was born out of many years’ personal experience of informal mentoring with colleagues and friends. I realise women need mentors in their lives to help them grow professionally and personally. But it’s very difficult for women to find such roles. So I thought why not build such a network of mentors?
Dora: So how does the mentoring work? How do you organise it?
Olga: We actually have a fancier name for it – ‘a flash mentoring’. Ladies who search for professional advice in education, corporate career or entrepreneurship are paired with accomplished women on a monthly basis, face-to-face mentoring session. All the mentors are volunteers, who are committed to have 2-3 sessions with the same mentee.
Dora: Her Century is now active in India, Spain and France. But it all started in China, right?
Olga: Yes, right here in Shanghai. China with its amazing female population was the final trigger. Ladies residing here are all lifelong learners, humble, but extremely ambitious, constantly looking for the next best “her” opportunity. I fell in love with it, like totally in love. And Her Century was born.
Dora: Shanghai is an amazing place with so many networking events going on daily. How do we choose the best investment for our time?
Olga: I think networking is essential to our success. There is a tremendous value in meeting people and building relationship outside your circle. Similarly, having a dedicated mentor maximises your chance of success. At the end, mentoring is like a personalised service, which is all about you.
Dora: This definitely resonates with me. I was in a career transition period and lucky to have female mentors to be supportive in being myself and designing my own life path.
I am also a mentor in Her Century. I joined because I want more women to share the benefit of mentoring without having to struggle all by themselves. So what is the typical reason that mentors join Her Century?
Olga: Being a mentor means giving and receiving. Our mentors like you, are passionate about female community. They are either well established in business corporations or thrive as entrepreneurs. They are eager to listen and willing to share their personal stories of ups and downs.
Dora: Any advice on how to make the best out of your time with your mentor?
Olga: Be authentic and open-minded. This is also a process to learn more about yourself. Talk about your typical struggles and successes so to be better understood. Do take notes and do your homework. Eventually you’ll make breakthrough and be a better self.
Dora: What’s the future plan for Her Century? Will there be other events besides mentoring?
Olga: We are building personal branding series and workshops covering topics of
Shanghai startup ecosystem, Foreign VS. local MBAs, Job hunting at different stages of career and Social innovation in China in the following months.
Dora: The concept of mentoring is universal to men and women, Olga. Why only women to women mentoring?
Olga: We women need female role models, who are energised, successful and powerful through their happiness, leadership and support to others. We will engage men in our community definitely but the power of women interacting with each other, the spirit of sisterhood, the humour behind the scenes is invincible. This is Her century and it will happen.
Dora: Finally, who is your mentor, Olga?
Olga: It’s the entire Her Century community. The energy that the ladies bring to the community inspires me to make it better. It is also a personal challenge to build a more impactful and sustainable women network. You, Dora is my mentor in building the community, Grace is my mentor in navigating China, Sophie is my mentor for India, and my mom has been my lifelong mentor. So welcome to Her Century!
Interviewed, written and translated by Dora Ke