How to bring authenticity in your work environment - Career Story

How to Bring Authenticity in Your Work Environment, Career Story with Amanda Dutko

Meet Amanda Dutko, an avid weightlifter and runner and the newest addition to the OneUpOneDown team. She is originally from a Swiss town but currently lives in France, where she constantly develops herself. She has worked in different fields and now specializes in supporting and boosting startup projects using her outstanding leadership skills to help motivate the teams that she works with to their best performance.

She started as a mentee and mentor with us and was so inspired by our cause that she wanted to join our team and help us grow and thrive. That is how she became our inspiring Partner Success & Community Manager. Find out more about her journey below.

In 2-3 sentences, please tell us a little about you! (your background/story and anything you feel you’d like to share)

Hailing from a picturesque Swiss town, I traded the mountains and fresh air for the UAE desert and its camels. Professionally, I am accomplished at taking projects from concept to construction phase in record time while building and motivating teams. I have substantial leadership in bootstrapping, strategic planning, team unification, and implementing ambitious visions. On the personal side, I am an avid weightlifter and runner.

Why did you sign up to be a part of OneUpOneDown?

The timing of the global COVID crisis coincided with a personal project which began at the start of 2019 as an informal long-distance discussion about workplace gender-related issues with another friend who lives in Germany. Our Mastermind Group idea formed around mutual mentoring, with our pilot initiative composed of 3 men and 3 women from different nationalities, career backgrounds, and responsibility levels. After a year, the mentoring came to an end and seeing how we were all enriched and changed by this project, I decided to continue on this journey. My friend Valentina told me about OneUpOneDown and I immediately signed up on the platform.

What does success mean to you? How do you align with your definition at the moment?

For me, success means looking back at my life and feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment. And because that is so difficult to measure (and is also very subjective depending on the day or my mood), I go through a rigorous process of writing down goals for the next 3 months, 1 year, 3 years and lifetime goals. That way, I have something tangible against which to measure my progress and whenever I doubt I have accomplished anything, I can go back to my planner and get reminded of the steps I took and the successes I have had. I think ultimately for me, movement = growth = success.

What prompted you to pursue the career or business you’re working in/on now?

When I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to study in a field that would give me the broadest variety of options in terms of the industry and location. In other words, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.

I studied hospitality and business management at the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, which then allowed me to work in many industries; from event management for large corporate clients, to PR for a luxury watch brand before finally pivoting to the sports industry. I always felt a bit uncomfortable about not being a specialist in a field. I now understand the value of being more of a generalist and tapping into all the various interests I have. If you can relate to this, I recommend reading the book “Range: Why generalists triumph in a specialized world?”, which makes a compelling case for how people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive.

How did you know this is what you wanted to do?

I didn’t 🙂

I followed my interests and went through some trial and error. You can’t really know if you’ll love something until you try. When you begin your journey, you may like some aspects of your job, such as using certain skills and dislike other elements, such as the sedentarity of sitting in front of a computer day in and day out. What’s important to me is to keep track of what I like so that I look for jobs where I can do more of it, while removing as much of the downsides. There is no perfect situation, but you can actively put the odds in your favour.

Have you made any big transitions or changes in your career? What were they? How did you do it?

In 2017, three years after graduating from university, I realized that I had grown too comfortable with my life in Switzerland. I was in a stable job, had a good social life, lived close to my family and spent my weekends in the beautiful Swiss Alps. But as a 26 years old, I wanted more from my life and my career and for that, I had to push past this comfort zone.

Around that time, the Dubai CrossFit Championship (one of the most prominent events on the CrossFit circuit which I knew from having launched my own brand in Switzerland) hired me as their consultant on the management of their competition. Geographic symbolism also gave way to the tough reality of cultural challenges for which none of the books I read had prepared me. My Swiss way of doing things combined with my gender in an advisory position made it harder for me to be efficient. I accepted an invitation to stay on in the region because this international exposure was helping me to better understand myself. As my first relocation outside Europe, the UAE immersion taught me that different cultures have values that are often diametrically opposed and navigating this complexity requires a level of maturity and openness that I did not have prior to this exposure.

This experience made me realize that what mattered more to me than anything else was to test my boundaries and grow through learning from other people who were further along in their journeys than I was in mine. It heightened my self-awareness. It made me humbler. Most of all, it helped me realize that by learning through new experiences, particularly shared ones, I could become better at creating positive effects both in my life and the lives of others. Armed with this knowledge, I have decided to apply to business school to pursue my MBA. I will join the 22J class of INSEAD as my next big career move.

What is something that has been particularly challenging throughout your career?

Bringing my authenticity at work. It takes a very special company culture, one that cultivates trust, for people to feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. At the start of my career, I was not fortunate to be in such environments and I struggled with being myself vs. putting on a “work persona” face. When I got to manage a team for the first time, I struggled to create the environment I wanted, because I had never seen it modelled before and I had very little to draw from. Slowly I started to find ways to develop this trust so that both I and others around would be comfortable to be themselves.

What have been your go-to tools and strategies to overcome challenging experiences or people in your career?

Depending on the issue I encounter, I will turn to:

  • books: reading or listening to audiobooks has proven to be a really effective tool to find strategies to overcome difficult situations (full library is available on my Instagram)
  • network: friends and mentors, people with more experience or more knowledge that I can rely on
  • meditation: it helps me to be more balanced, less reactive and most importantly it has made me more empathetic
  • apps: Koober and Bunch for some morning mindfood

What is one personal or professional skill you’re working on at the moment and why?

My OneUpOneDown mentor is what I would call a networking queen. She actively seeks to connect with near-peers as well as people outside of her current network and she is extremely deliberate about it. For a long time, I underestimated the importance of cultivating one’s professional network and I am now working to course-correct that. OneUpOneDown is a great place to start!

What is something you wish you’d known when you were first starting out in your career?

I wish I would have trusted my gut more. I am a very rational person and I used to make decisions based on what I could justify (to others or myself). Gut feeling is hard to explain and is often very personal, based on emotions more than facts. As I could not always rationally explain it, I tended to not listen to it. Looking back, most of the gut feelings I had ended up being right, and this has pushed me to listen to it and trust it more. It doesn’t mean my gut feeling is going to be 100% right or that I should always follow it. For me, being open to listening and acknowledging it is a strong first step.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone who is about to embark on the journey that you have been on for the most recent period of your life?

Be intentional. It’s quite unlikely that good things (a new role, a promotion, etc.) will fall on your lap unless you actively pursue them. Being intentional doesn’t mean you have to know exactly what you want. But if you don’t put yourself out there and set your intentions, you’ll likely remain exactly where you are.

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