We are excited to introduce Christi Wall, a dedicated member of RISE100. Christi is the head of Revenue Enablement and Operations at SecZetta and is also an executive MBA student at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France. Read below to learn more about her biggest lessons from 2020, her dedication to female empowerment, and her life motto that truly encapsulates her energy and drive.
Why did you decide to support Sundara in joining RISE 100?
A few years ago, I was exploring the social impact world and trying to better understand it for my own growth and education. I reached out to Erin to see if she would be willing to talk to me about Sundara, and we had an instant connection. At the time, Sundara was focused on soap recycling efforts, which I thought was fantastic in its simplicity. I've been a supporter ever since meeting her, and it’s been a joy to watch her and the organization evolve over the last few years, and see how it’s shifted for good even during COVID.
Out of that shift came RISE100, whose mission I found really compelling, and very much in line with my interests and values. I'm a fairly idealistic person and an innate helper, and I also think that business and entrepreneurship can be a positive force in the world. I love that RISE by Sundara combines social impact and entrepreneurship, and focuses on empowerment over one time charity. I think it's much more powerful to equip others with tools and resources for lasting change, as opposed to quick fixes for an immediate problem.
Why is female empowerment important to you?
On a personal level, I've been given a lot of opportunities in my life and I'm immensely grateful for that. But I have had some challenges in the corporate setting, which is where I spend most of my time. I’ve found over the years a real sense of empowerment by being able to embrace my identity as a woman and as a driven professional. So often in the working world, women are taught to be more masculine to get things done: wear the pants suit, speak loudly, take up a lot of space in a room. In my experience, I feel much more empowered when I’m true to myself and embrace who I am as a woman even in the workplace, as opposed to trying to fit into some mold. I think every woman deserves the opportunity to be who they are and to chart their own path, no matter what that environment is.
On a community level, there's a lot of research out there now showing that women who receive fair wages and who are successful in their endeavors end up giving back more to their local communities. Economies grow, labor markets expand, and I think there's a lot to be said for upholding the fabric of society through stronger family households and that sense of individual agency.
What does life look like for you outside of Sundara?
I’ve work in high-growth tech companies for the last 10 years. I specifically work in revenue enablement and operations, which means I help equip enterprise sellers with everything they need to be effective in customer conversations, whether that’s training or content or tech systems. It's more of a behind-the-scenes role that keeps the front end of the revenue organization efficient and effective.
I'm also a global executive MBA student at INSEAD. I started the program in 2019 and I’ll be graduating this upcoming December. Despite COVID restrictions, it’s given me the opportunity to spend time in beautiful places like Paris and Istanbul. I even spent a week with classmates in Hood River, Oregon taking online classes. We were finished with class by noon and spent every afternoon hiking in the nearby National Forests!
I also am a long-distance runner, and I just completed my first 50k in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming (and yes, this means there will be a second 50k!).
What is something most people don't know about you but they should if they really want to
I'm an ambivert, which is squarely in between an introvert and an extrovert. I'm really outgoing, very social, and I love being around people -- until I decide that I'm tapped out and I just completely shut down. My energy is gone in the matter of an instant. I'm the queen of leaving parties without saying goodbye, because I just hit my social limit. My friends find it both amusing and confusing, and I've had to explain that it's not that I don't want to spend time with them, it’s just that when I hit my max, I’m done!
What was the biggest lesson learned from 2020?
COVID impacted all of us in a big way, and we all had to face situations that we've never had to deal with before. For me, lockdown put a spotlight on some long-standing, deeply-rooted anxieties, and I was dealing with some personal challenges that tested my limits. COVID massively amplified those challenges. During lockdown, I felt subject to negative emotions and I let them kind of rule over me. My biggest lesson was understanding that I have to own my growth and healing, and that in many ways I play a role in my own struggles. There was a very specific moment during lockdown that I decided that I wasn't going to be passive anymore, and that I had to actively manage my emotions if I wanted to grow as a person.
It might be cheesy to say, but since that moment, life is different. I’ve found that in taking ownership of my emotions and my growth, it transformed my relationships and my perspective. It’s not like it was all just snow sunshine and roses immediately but I found that there was a significant shift. I’m more positive, I’m more balanced, and I’m a better partner to my fiance, a better sister, a better friend.
What is something that you wish you could tell the younger version of yourself?
I wish I had known when I was a teenager that I have the power to transform negative patterns into positive ones, and that just because I feel something doesn't make it fact. I wish I had realized sooner that I have veto power over my thoughts and feelings, as I tend to be self-critical and highly emotional. Over the last few years, I learned to view thoughts and feelings as observations, as opposed to overwhelming sensations. I now can look at them in a more objective way and ask: what is this saying about me, or what is this telling me?
It took me a long time to figure that out, and I could have saved myself a lot of angst!
What is your life motto?
Be afraid and do it anyway.
RISE 100 is a group of 100 leaders investing in the success and mentorship of women entrepreneurs who are providing life-saving water, hygiene and sanitation solutions for their communities in a time of intense need. To learn more about RISE 100 and how you can join, click here.