How to make it as a female board member

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Deepti Patankar, Co-Founder and COO at leading home rental management company, Hostmaker, shares her top tips on how to make it as a female board member.

Speak up; you have earned your right to be in this room

When I first started out, I felt like some of the other board members thought I was only there because I was the wife of the Founder. I made a deliberate effort to make my voice heard and set myself my own personal target of saying at least one comment per meeting. Although I knew I had a right to be in the room, this small exercise helped build my confidence and prove my worth to others as well as to myself. I also ensured I never let Nakul (my husband) speak for me; my area of expertise was sales and customer relations, so I always owned that. It can be intimidating being in a room full of people who may be twice your age and have more qualifications or experience in these environments, but the more you speak up, the easier it gets.

You can only add to the debate if you are prepared

Preparation is key when it comes to smashing that board meeting. Know the facts and figures from your area of the business, but also read up on those other areas which you don’t usually get involved in. This will get you ahead of the game and feel more confident, as well as ensure you have a bank of valuable insights ready to share with the board.

Know your industry inside out

A great way to stay engaged is to be aware of everything that is happening around you, both within your industry and outside it. Whether that is reading the paper every day on your way into work, listening to podcasts, watching the evening news or signing up to daily newsletters into your inbox, soak up all that knowledge – you never know when it might come in handy!

Avoid playing ‘Mother’

Small gestures such as only serving lunch or coffee if a man helps reminds both myself and others that I am equal and have earned my place in the room.

Don’t let emotions get the better of you

Some people have a tendency to let their temper flare within the board room (this can particularly be the case if it is a male dominated board) but you need to make sure you keep the focus of the meeting. Having a professional and calm attitude goes a long way in a room where emotions might be rife. Remember the goals of the company and why you are all in this room together – leaving egos at the door.

About the author

Deepti Patankar is the Co-Founder and COO of Hostmaker, the award-winning home rental management company. Since founding the company in 2014 with her husband Nakul, Deepti has been instrumental in the company’s growth, taking it from its London roots to being present in nine cities across Europe.

Before starting Hostmaker, Deepti worked at Linklaters as a banking lawyer after winning a training contract from her university in Bangalore. Leaving this position to found a travel & hospitality start-up was a leap of faith but Deepti believed in Nakul’s clear vision for Hostmaker. Since then, this legal background has come in handy with Deepti successfully negotiating the five rounds of funding for Hostmaker, helping the company raise $29.3 million – making Hostmaker one of the most well-funded start-ups in Europe. As a result, Deepti was featured in the Management Today ’35 under 35′ list in 2018.

Hostmaker is the leading home rental management company born with the vision to unlock the potential of every home. Hostmaker offers an end-to-end management service infused with hospitality expertise, smart algorithmic pricing technology and thoughtful interior design.

Founded by entrepreneur Nakul Sharma in 2014, Hostmaker has expanded its operations to nine international destinations to date: London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, Cannes, Florence and Bangkok, managing over 2,000 uniquely curated homes across these markets. This rapid growth placed Hostmaker at no.3 in the Deloitte UK Tech Fast 50 Awards 2018.

Working with partners including Airbnb, BNP Paribas and Zoopla, Hostmaker has hosted more than 275,000 guests since 2014 and has generated earnings of over £60 million for homeowners to date.
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