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The HR Leader in conversation with Anu Villarosa

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read
The HR Leader in conversation with Anu Villarosa

Anu Villarosa is the HR director at Pitcher Partners. When she joined The HR Leader she shared some ideas for learning opportunities for women, and why women need to stop apologising all the time.

Shandel McAuliffe, editor at HR Leader: “What do you think are the best learning interventions for career progression (for women)?”

Ms Villarosa: “I think the first one is remain curious and be willing to learn, even if it sits outside the scope of your role, because that brings diversity of thought, [it] provides opportunity for networking, for learning new aspects of your role or feeling confident if your role evolves.”


“The HR role has evolved in itself and shifted dramatically to be a strategic partnering role from quite an operational based role. So, I think being very curious, open to learning, finding opportunities to learn and develop both academically, but also opportunities to learn at conferences or courses or just from other people,” explained Ms Villarosa.

“[The next is] networking opportunities. You get to learn and grow with peers and as part of that network. [Think about] how you can help others, not what you can get. Watch that unfold, then people do the same and reciprocate that.

“The last one is mentorship and coaching and finding the opportunities to be mentored by others outside your team environment. [Say] yes to opportunities that you may not normally say yes to. Surround yourself with people that can help, coach, mentor and support you.”

Editor: “Why do you think women in leadership need to stop apologising so much?”

Ms Villarosa: “This is something I've become really passionate about, mainly because I used to do it a lot. I had people say to me: ‘Only apologise if you've done something wrong.’ That really stuck with me. If you want to sit at the table or to be heard, you need to lean into those conversations and remove words like, ‘just’ or ‘think’, and come with a bit more conviction and confidence.”

She continued: “From what I've seen and experienced, is that if a female is speaking and a male interrupts, a female apologises and lets that person speak. Rather than do that, use the apology to say: ‘Excuse me, I haven't finished. Would it be okay if I do?’ It shifts the dynamic in the room to say: ‘I understand you want to say something, but I haven't finished.’ Not apologising for the fact that actually you've been interrupted and not the other way around.”

“Be really mindful about the language you're using, particularly if you're going into conversations about remuneration and promotion and opportunity. If you're going to plan anything, think about your approach, the way you frame the conversation, the language you use and get comfortable with asking what you're asking for and don't dilute it,” said Ms Villarosa.

The transcript of the podcast episode, when quoted above, was slightly edited for publishing purposes. The full conversation with Anu Villarosa is below.




Mentoring pairs up less experienced workers with more seasoned ones to provide coaching, training, and development. This can be done informally or formally, with meetings and quantified results.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.