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Ivna Curi

Ivna Curi

Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.

Hello! I’m Ivna Curi and I consider myself an optimist, an independent thinker, a nature enthusiast, an advocate for diversity, inclusion, respect, thoughtfulness, curiosity, and most of all assertiveness.

I am also former corporate professional who spend a decade working in analytics, planning, consulting, and supply chain management. In my corporate life I fell in love with helping people get the careers and recognition they deserve.

Currently I’m focused on empowering professionals to speak up for themselves, for their dreams, and for their teams through assertive communication skills. That will allow them to boost their careers, have greater contribution, be recognized, be appreciated, be heard, be more confident at work, increase their impact, and become better leaders.

My company is called Assertive Way and it provides training on how to be more assertive at work without being rude, pushy, or aggressive.

Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?

I loved getting to know the talented and kind women in my first squad experience. I loved sharing, getting their feedback, and hearing their success stories. I enjoyed the depth of the one-on-one conversations and stories with Ellevate women. Finally, I was thrilled with the receptivity and engagement of the participants in the Ellevate workshops I hosted.

How would you define your professional mission?

In the past wanted to be corporate leader. Now I dream of leading a global movement to inspire and empower professionals to thoughtfully use their voice to achieve their career dreams faster, so that they can get the recognition and advancement they deserve, be effective, and maximize their contribution.

I know there are big challenges to overcome: corporate politics, difficult and untrained bosses, uninspiring leaders, aggressive work cultures. And I also know that confident communication skills to assertively speak up for oneself in a confident, clear, and thoughtful way can overcome all those challenges.

What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?

Receiving messages from former team members who expressed gratitude for the leadership skills they learned by example when led by me. Seeing team members grow, develop, take risks, and move ahead in their careers.

And also those scary, courageous, and uncomfortable speaking up moments that boosted my career the most and allowed me to serve others the most. Here are 3 of my favorite scary but career-changing moments: 1. After diligently serving at a corporate job for 6 months, the moment I asked my boss to loan me 2 years worth of salary, so that I could leave the company and pursue my dream MBA in Europe, which he did. 2. The moment I informed my boss I had a lot more to contribute and that I wanted more strategic work, then almost got fired for networking, but and then got a big promotion to lead a team to do strategic work. 3. The moment in a job interview that I decisively told my hiring director that I expected a more senior role where I could manage a team, even though I had no prior experience managing a team and was only 24 years old. Yet I still got the job and did very well.

We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?

I’ve always been described as nice, calm, quiet, and patient. People often told me that I had to toughen up, have thicker skin, and to be tougher on my team and projects. I was shy, introverted, awkward, socially anxious and a people-pleaser. I’d blush and be embarrassed easily. I avoided eye contact.

I struggled to speak up in large multi-stakeholder meetings. I found it hard to speak and say no to more senior executives. I was reluctant to ask for what I wanted or for what my team needed. I was sensitive to criticism and aggression. I had a tough time speaking up for myself and for others. My team challenged my authority.

I tried everything from dancing, martial arts, public speaking, and it didn’t help.

Luckily two wonderful things happened to me early in my career: A wonderful mentor pushed me out of my comfort zone every single day and my mother introduced me to a book on assertiveness, and learning that skill changed everything.

Because of that, despite my shyness and people-pleasing tendencies, I still managed to succeed, get promoted, network, and build teams in corporate male-dominated aggressive environments around the world. And I realized that many professionals had similar challenges. So I decided to leave the corporate world and dedicate myself to help professionals to empower themselves through assertiveness.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

To see talented people who were under-recognized finally get a promotion after years of being taken for granted.

To witness introverted professionals discover and embrace their leadership potential.

To watch professionals with low confidence start to value themselves and begin to ask for what they deserve, achieve their dreams, and have more impact.

What legacy do you hope to leave through your work?

There are 3 major legacy elements I wish to leave in my work empowering professionals with assertive communication: 1. Help build values of respect for the different, empathetic curiosity, thoughtful communication, independent thinking, and bold, authentic, and meaningful interactions. 2. Increase equity of opportunities and help break the glass ceiling for women, introverts, minorities, and immigrants. 3. Promote assertiveness skills and life skills in schools and universities.

What is your morning ritual?

I've been working on it for a long time! Early morning is my personal feel good moment. It includes some of these elements: outdoor walk, yoga, liang kong, brief workout, cleaning kitchen, watering plants, matcha or other green tea, a healthy calm breakfast, audiobooks or empowering podcasts, gratitude, planning, music, dance, or even some sleep meditation if I'm feeling tired. Then I'm off to work.

What does success look like to you?

Contribute with work that empowers people to fulfill their potential, do work that I deeply believe in, and that uses all of whom I am (skills, experiences, values, passions). Cultivate positive and meaningful relationships professionally and personally. Take care of my wellness, develop myself, and enjoy the important people in my life daily. Diversify my life experiences so that I can grow in to a better person. Be courageous to be myself everyday so I don’t have any regrets later. Be financially rewarded for the value that I provide to others. Find beauty, joy, and gratitude every day.

What is the best career advice you ever received?

When I was 7 years old, my mother told me I could be whatever I wanted to be, even president. I found that incredibly empowering as a girl.

In my first job managing a team at age 24, my boss and mentor guided me through: • Firing 2 people who were not right for the team • Confronting toxic behavior of some of my employees that were causing problems, • Defending my team’s interests by standing up against bullying that senior executives in the company did towards them.

He taught me: • That doing the right thing doesn’t always feel nice or good. • That leadership takes courage, and I should speak up for myself and for others even if it was scary. • To deal with conflict on the spot instead of letting it get out of hand. • To take risks in speaking up when I didn’t feel comfortable. • To seek feedback and help fast when problem came up.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.