UC Berkeley - Sociology
Sometimes you can work your butt off to land what you think is the job for you only to find out … it just doesn't feel right after a while. But Amanda Pouchot wouldn't settle for anything less than 100 percent, and two years after honing her skills at management consulting firm McKinsey, she decided it was time to step out and really pursue her passion — motivating and inspiring other young women keen on making it big in their respective fields.
As the co-founder of The Levo League, founded in July 2011, Amanda and her team of fiercely fabulous colleagues help challenge the status quo of the business world, with a mission to empower women to help one another propel to leadership positions. The site offers "Office Hours" with influential women in business from companies like Gilt Groupe and Time Inc., job listings and a variety of content for career-driven females just like you.
I think that fear is what stops women from dreaming big.
How did you discover your current job?
It found me. I know that sounds kooky, but I never imagined becoming an entrepreneur. I always thought I would be a researcher and professor with a focus on leadership development and stereotypes. In fact, today I do a lot of what I always imagined doing, but in a different role than I ever could have imagined: as a community builder at Levo.
What has been your path so far to get you where you are today?
I took on every single leadership opportunity and extracurricular activity I could from an early age, and even through my time at McKinsey. I found a way to get in front of the right people by doing excellent work, asking for opportunities to perform, and putting in the time and effort to get noticed. I believe that you can get something out of every situation and that it is really up to you to grow and develop. While McKinsey may have not ended up being my dream job, I did everything possible to make it worth it and to excel while I was there.
Was there any one situation that helped you along your way?
In my second week at McKinsey, I sent a note to the most senior female director at our New York office, Joanna Barsh, and asked her if I could get involved in her research on women in the workplace. I must have looked at that email 1,000 times before sending it. She responded within 5 minutes and I was off to doing the most meaningful work I did at the firm. She was a sponsor in every sense of the word, putting me in a role where I was able to grow and expand and write about women in leadership topics on a weekly basis -- something that greatly influences The Levo League today.
What is your typical day like? Does it ever change?
It’s a bit insane, but a lot of fun. For example, today I wrote an article for Levo, met with a potential new hire, had coffee with a potential partner, met with a Levo enthusiast who wanted to get involved, did some basic html on our content site, discussed our Local Levo launch plans for six new cities, met with one of my team members to discuss our digital marketing approach, paid a few bills and implemented new processes around our SEO practices.
Tomorrow I hope to clear out my email inbox. I actually hope to do that every day and never quite get to it! But in reality, I’m not always sure what tomorrow will bring. I try to go in with a plan of at least four things I’d like to accomplish, and then I go from there depending on what is needed immediately.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Witnessing the community of smart, powerful and caring women being created by The Levo League. Each day I have the opportunity to see how women are inspiring, supporting and helping other women reach their dreams. I’ve seen a job listing in San Francisco go from a post on our site to a connection and discussion between two women on how to get in at the company. I’ve seen a group of women come together for tea to discuss how we, as women, never share when we aren’t doing okay. Believing in what we are building and the people who are building this league with us is hands down the most incredible thing to be a part of.
What is the most challenging part?
Believing in myself -- which is never easy no matter what you are doing. I feel like I have such a responsibility to the women who are building Levo to not let them down. But, at the same time I have to make decisions and often make them fast. So, there really isn’t a lot of time to doubt yourself, you just have to take action.
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
I don’t take care of myself enough. I am working on this, but right now I have this “it’s now or never” feeling, which makes it hard to take an hour out of the day to take care of myself. But, it’s that awful catch-22 because when I work out or sleep a little more, I am a much better teammate and manager.
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
It’s not over until it’s the end, and it’s not the end until you decide it is. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. It will get better. I used to hate when people told me that it would all work out, but it does.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
Getting over the fear of diving in. Fear is debilitating -- and a fear of failure is always looming over me. I have learned to push fear of what will happen in the future out of my mind so that I can focus on what I can do in that moment. I think that fear is what stops women from dreaming big. In the startup and tech world you have to have a “go big or go home” attitude.
Who are your role models?
I really look up to Pattie Sellars and what she has created with the Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list and conference. I think that she has done so much for women by being the catalyst for bringing together such powerful women in one place. The outcome of this list and network of extraordinary women is both awe-inspiring and motivating.
Is there a quote or mantra that you live by?
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right.” – Henry Ford
“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
Be prepared for the negativity. In the startup industry, there are a lot of naysayers. Sometimes, people will try to “help” by telling you that you can’t accomplish your dreams. Well, you can. Don’t listen to the people who tell you that you can’t. Find the other great people who will roll up their sleeves to help you and encourage your dreams.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
This is an awesome site, and I am really enjoying learning about the different women in different fields.