When Phaidon International approached Yacine Fall in 2019, the Berlin office had only just opened. It offered tremendous potential for growth, which Yacine saw and seized.
Originally from the south of Germany and a passionate dancer to this day, Yacine had moved to Berlin to study sports and economics. Upon graduation, she wanted a career that empowered her to decide for herself where to go and how to progress. At DSJ Global, she entered the world of end-to-end Supply Chain and has advanced to brand head for DSJ Global in Berlin in just four years.
We spoke to Yacine about the importance of International Women’s Day, how she encourages diversity both within her team and at the companies she consults, what advice she would give her younger self, and more.
What are you proudest of in your career?
“There have been quite a lot of things I’m super proud of, including the progress I’ve made as a person. My team at DSJ Global broke a very long-standing record in January, and it was one of the goals I’d set myself when I became head of DSJ Global in Berlin. I’m very proud that we achieved this as a team, that everyone contributed to a collective effort. It was not a one-man or one-woman show.
"I’m also proud of the growth I’ve seen and supported. We are now twelve people in the Berlin office. When I started in 2019, we were three. For this year, my goal is to guide several team members into their first management role, which will allow us to grow even further.”
Why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day, especially in the workplace?
“I think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day to highlight it and create awareness around it. But I think it’s even more important to make it an actual effort and to center a mission of change. Of course, that’s not something that is done within one day. Rather, every day must be part of the DNA of a business and must be driven forward – not only by women but as a collective effort to change something.
"I’m very happy that I found my way into a company that is making an honest effort in changing things. I’m part of an office where we have a very diverse leadership team and very proud of all the other women who are coming into managing roles and actually dominating the management table by numbers. Let’s see what the next year brings!”
How do you encourage gender diversity internally in your brand?
“For me, it’s not only about gender diversity. In my team, we have quite a good balance between male and female. Diversity also means that you have people of the LGBTQ+ community, people of different races, people of different ages, different nationalities, different languages. That’s what we’re trying to embody in our brand.
"To achieve it, we make our hiring as transparent as possible. That involves asking the same questions to everyone to prevent a biased interview process, as well as speaking to as many people as possible. We try to get to know the candidates on an individual level even if they don’t seem like the perfect fit on paper. That’s what I base my own hiring on.
"So far, my efforts reflect in the team. Of course, that’s not something you can simply check off a list. There’s always room for improvement. Therefore, we’re working closely with our Talent Acquisition Team to make sure they know the kind of people we’re looking for. That’s very important to me and the DSJ Global hiring strategy.”
How do you encourage gender diversity in your sector?
“As partners for the companies we’re working with, we engage with them on eye-level and truly consult them.
"Within end-to-end Supply Chain, especially when you look towards the automotive industry, it’s very male dominated. We make an active effort to highlight female talent or candidates from minority groups to make sure they are actually seen and represented in front of our clients.
"It’s an active effort on our part to provide a diverse shortlist. Sometimes, when we find an outstanding female professional looking for a new opportunity, we also contact companies to introduce this candidate.
"Of course, female talent has always been a topic, but compared to when I first started, far more companies are telling us directly they expect a certain quota of female candidates in the shortlists we provide. To me, that shows that they’re actually trying to make an effort and address a lack of diversity in their company. Especially bigger companies now have more guidelines in place to avoid discrimination.
"But it’s still a long way to go for end-to-end Supply Chain. The roles that we work on at DSJ Global are at a certain seniority level and we can only work with the professionals who are already there. In the future, I think we will see more female talent since a lot of company programs are targeting diverse candidates early on in their careers. You can tell that awareness is increasing year by year, which is a very good thing to see.”
What advice would you give your younger self?
“The advice I would give to myself in the early stages of my professional career is that you don’t have to apologize for being loud or speaking your mind. Especially now as a female leader, I have far more confidence in myself and in the things I’m saying. I realised that when I first started in the corporate world, I always tried to blend in. I would tell my younger self to not dim your light just to not blind other people. Be there, be vocal, speak your mind. Then you’re going to find your place.”
What advice would you give other women and women of color in the professional world?
“Especially for women of color, when you’re raised in a very white environment, we usually fall into the trap that you always feel like the eyes are on you and that you draw a lot of attention by the way that you look. Oftentimes, we want to be everybody’s darling and become a people pleaser to not step on anyone’s toes.
"But to actually change the way things work in the world, you need to step on people’s toes and have uncomfortable conversations. To gain the strength to do that, it’s very important to find your allies within a company quite quickly, for example, find your sponsors and mentors. Surround yourself with them, speak to them, use them and then it’s going to be far easier to gain the confidence to have these uncomfortable conversations and step on other people’s toes a little bit.”
For more interviews with the inspiring women at Phaidon International, please visit our hub here.