A Human Connection: Beating the Odds through Kindness 

As women, we tend to underestimate our capabilities when pursuing a professional career. Our self-esteem further diminishes when people belittle our accomplishments because of our gender. However, the key to success doesn’t lie in your origin or gender but your strengths. Everyone can reach the same heights and create the human connections necessary to get to the top. Eleanor Foley is an inspirational figure who proves that success is always within reach, no matter the odds.

In this episode, Eleanor Foley describes her challenging journey as a single mother towards professional success. She also reveals the proudest moments in her life as a woman in a male-dominated industry and how trust and a human connection are the keys to success. Before she concludes, she spills her secret to being a successful leader.

Listen to this episode to see how forging real human connections on your journey is the path to success.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Discover Eleanor’s proudest moments in her leadership pursuit. 
  2. Learn how Eleanor’s ability to forge a human connection proved to be the secret to her success.
  3. Know what it takes to thrive as a leader in modern industries. 


  • Map Out the Life that You Deserve with Angela
  • Connect with Eleanor: LinkedIn 
  • At Novartis, we are reimagining medicine.

Episode Highlights 

[3:39] Eleanor’s Proudest Moments

  • She believes that every day is made up of really proud moments.
  • Eleanor takes pride in many things — watching her daughter, for example, or simple achievements.
  • Eleanor acquired an MBA while being a single mother and a full-time employee.
  • Her MBA opened many doors that were previously closed — including a job at Microsoft.
  • Although Eleanor landed a job at Microsoft, her sense of achievement came not from the job but from completing her MBA.

[7:59] Conversations on Perseverance

  • On April 1, Eleanor was burnt out, almost reaching the point of fatigue while still having to submit her thesis.
  • Like a Phoenix, it’s okay to fall as long as you rise again afterwards.
  • Find the ‘spark’ somewhere within you and ignite it.
  • Even though you have the best support system, it’s still useless if you don’t believe that you can do it.
  • Removing an element of perfection is crucial to getting the job done.

[11:19] The ‘Unbossed’ Culture

  • Eleanor works for Novartis, where they practice unbossed culture.
  • In an unbossed culture, employees don’t have to ask for permission to do anything. Everyone is 100% accountable for their actions and the results thereof.
  • Employees, therefore, have significantly more freedom and agency in how they operate.
  • The culture is results-driven while providing you with the autonomy of work-life balance.

[13:52] The Essence of Trust in Work

  • Novartis has an efficient and effective professional culture because of trust.
  • Employers and employees both have to earn each other’s trust.
  • Work quality will increase when there’s a human connection between employers and employees.
  • The value of trust is magnified when we focus on the person behind the work rather than the job itself.
  • Employers need to remember that employees want to do the best for the company as much as they do.

[16:12] Eleanor’s Road to Full-time in Novartis

  • All of Eleanor’s work-from-home experiences revolved around trust.
  • At Novartis, Eleanor was impressed with the way employees and employers treat and interact with each other.
  • 90,000 workers work from home during the weekends, yet the company still trusts their employees to fulfil their jobs.

[17:58] The Trusted Advisor Role

  • Everything starts within yourself.
  • Being an advisor requires two things: that you are well-versed in your subject matter and that your advice is reliable and beneficial.
  • Giving trustworthy advice also builds reputation; consequently, being a trusted advisor also translates into leadership skills.
  • Advisory roles encourage you to support people when they make mistakes.
  • Create a learning environment.

[20:53] Eleanor as a Proud Mother

  • Another one of Eleanor’s proudest moments is being a mother.
  • She taught herself ways to maintain a good relationship with her daughter. A significant portion of that is choosing her battles.
  • Maintaining a human connection and open communication with her daughter is vital. Parents need the courage to talk about sensitive issues but also know the right time to discuss them.

[25:12] Eleanor’s Guide to Parenting

  • Children need to process their emotions themselves before expressing them.
  • No manual in the world will explain how to fix your child’s issues instantaneously.
  • Most importantly, nobody knows your child better than you do. If anything, trust your parental instincts.
  • Your child is entitled to their emotions and their own space.
  • Every child is a unique individual; you need to adapt to what your child is and will become.

[29:03] Growth as a Double-Edged Sword

  • We sometimes berate ourselves whenever we fail to do or be more than what we are.
  • It’s too easy to think that we need to be improving constantly, preventing us from accepting ourselves.
  • You grow by accepting yourself and having the willingness to change.
  • Everyone is seeking pure happiness. Don’t allow external influences to define what that means for you.

[33:17] Eleanor as a Mentor

  • She shares that women shouldn’t underestimate their cognitive skills because of their gender. Instead, they should focus on building themselves and other women who don’t believe in themselves.
  • We shouldn’t normalise categorising work based on gender. Men and women can have equal mental and physical abilities.
  • Eleanor is proud of the opportunity to mentor young women in a male-dominated industry, encouraging them to pursue their goals no matter what.
  • Your strengths should define you, not your gender or culture.
  • Lastly, she emphasises the importance of being your authentic self when showing up in front of people.

[39:48] The Human Connection: Eleanor’s Secret

  • Human connection has been the heart of Eleanor’s success.
  • Be kind and understanding; look at the individuals around you. They’re human too.
  • Success comes from communication, openness, honesty, and trust.
  • Trust that your employees’ intentions toward the company are positive.

[42:09] The Art of Smiling

  • A simple act of smiling and eye contact could brighten up someone’s day. 
  • People looking at you strangely when you smile at them indicates that it is not a rare occurrence.
  • Smiling is contagious as it makes them reciprocate the gesture.
  • When you smile at a person, it creates a genuine human connection.

5 Powerful Quotes

[8:49] ‘It’s okay to fall down, you know, but you just got to get back up like the Phoenix out of them.’

[14:04] ‘If you don’t trust your workers, you’re not going to get trust back from them. And it’s earned both ways.’

[19:54] ‘If you’re going to mentor somebody, if you’re going to lead a team of people, you have to allow them to make mistakes.’

[22:37] ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things that I can and wisdom to know the difference.’

[29:08] ‘We do challenge ourselves by trying to be more than what we are, and then beating ourselves up for not being that.’

About the Guest 

Eleanor Foley is the living proof of a powerful woman. As a Solution Delivery Manager in Novartis, she mentors many women in breaking through a male-dominated software industry.

Her leadership skills and vast experience in digital transformations helped build strong relationships with a remotely located service provider and create a climate of trust in her team. As an excellent manager, she implements a robust change to her management approach in ensuring quality operations. Currently, Holly resides in Ireland with her 19-year-old daughter. 

If you want to know more about Eleanor, you can connect with her via LinkedIn.

Enjoy this Podcast?

As Eleanor recalls her experiences, she realises a trusting environment and genuine human connections led her to success. If you enjoyed today’s episode of The Mindset Mentor Meets…, hit subscribe and share it with your friends! Everyone can find success by looking at their origins and building new connections.

The Podcast has recently been voted in the top 10 most inspirational Podcasts!


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