An HR Business Partner and Learning Manager Boosts Her Own Negotiation and Leadership Skills

A conversation with Ghina Filiana about her experience in the High-Potential Women Leaders Program

April 20, 2023

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Ghina Filiana

As one of few female leaders and minorities in her department at Grundfos, a Danish manufacturing firm, Ghina Filiana often felt reluctant to negotiate for what she felt she deserved. But, after attending the High-Potential Women Leaders Program in 2023, Filiana, a human resources business partner and a learning manager for high-potential talent, is ready to own her value and capabilities.

What made you decide to enroll in this program at this point in your career?

Compared to many colleagues, I’m considered young. It can be difficult to advance while you’re young talent in a company, especially as a female in the manufacturing world, which is a male-dominated area. I want to become a leader in the near future so I wanted to learn how to prepare myself to make sure I’m heading in the right direction. I also wanted to take what I learn back to my company’s women-focused employee resource group to help empower others.

What were some of the sessions you really benefited from?

The sessions that were powerful for me were on negotiating and acting with power. I now know what to do when I negotiate my salary and how to actually communicate that.

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My biggest takeaway is that I now know what I need to do to get me further in my career.
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Ghina Filiana

As for acting with power, it’s easier for a female leader to be considered as either the tough one or as someone who accepts everything. We talked about how to place ourselves in positions of being respected – not labeled – but respected for our ability. Those discussions made a huge impression on me.

Have you been able to try out your new negotiation skills?

I recently had a performance development dialogue. In part of the review, my manager said she was having a hard time categorizing me [for merit incentives]. What I usually would do, and did in the past seven years, was nod and say, ‘Oh, okay. I accept.’ But this year, especially since I am in a new role in the company, I felt that I needed to advocate for myself. Later my manager complimented me for expressing what I felt I was entitled to. So I’ll keep doing that.

What other lessons on leadership strategies or styles resonated with you?

We had activities in which we talked about using humor in meetings to convey messages. Usually females are more hesitant to put humor into whatever they are saying but I’m not afraid of doing that. I’ve been using humor forever. But I would sometimes worry, ‘Is my humor too much?’ or ‘Am I saying the wrong thing?’ After the program, I’ve realized that as long as you’re mindful not to hurt or insult someone, you really can’t do wrong and that using humor is a way to make others feel comfortable and see you as someone they can relate to and communicate with.

How did the program’s online format work for you?

It worked very well. I have a small child at home and I’m traveling constantly for work right now so the fact that this program is online was very suitable for me. The amount of information that I got during the program exceeded my expectations.

What have you been able to share with others at your company?

We are initiating some activities in our women-focused employee resource group and I want to do some of the exercises that we did in the program, such as negotiating salaries and terms of employment. I would like to inspire others and have others inspire one another because we all have a lot to bring to the table. I’d like to help my female colleagues start those discussions and help them to advance their careers.

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