High-profile entrepreneur Ingrid Vanderveldt talks to women’s lifestyle expert Claudia Chan about her own challenges and her plan to help the world’s female entrepreneurs.

Image by: Claudia Chan
Ingrid Vandervelt, CEO of her own business and Dell’s Entrepreneur-In-Residence

Tech entrepreneur, investor and former CNBC host Ingrid Vanderveldt  has made “empowering a billion women by 2020” — something she refers to as EBW2020 — her mission. She’s currently serving as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Dell Inc., where she created the $100 million Dell Innovators Credit Fund, a financing program for investor-backed startups, and where she advises the international Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network. Investing in women, Vanderveldt believes, is critical to the health of the global economy.

Edited interview excerpts follow.

[box_light]ON LEADERSHIP[/box_light]

Claudia Chan: What’s been your greatest challenge? 

A: Overcoming my own self-doubt. The biggest challenge lies in continuing to grow, make mistakes and better yourself, while providing leadership and an example for others to follow. I view my personal and professional lives as being in constant fluidity, expansion and growth. Although a leader, I am also a learner in parallel. This places a bigger responsibility on my part to be able to push aside my self-doubt, learn compassionately and quickly, then authentically keep moving forward and setting the best example I can, sharing my lessons learned, and being accessible and open throughout the entire process.

[box_light] ON PERSONAL FINANCE [/box_light]
CC: Can you share 1-3 musts for women when it comes to managing money?

A: 1. Get a mentor.
2. Know that some of the most successful people in business didn’t know how to read financials (i.e. Richard Branson), so feel confident — we all go through it. (Read “Overcoming Underearning.”)
3. Set a budget. Know where your money is and use programs like Mint.com and LearnVest to help manage your finances.

[box_light] ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP [/box_light]
CC: Besides capital, what are the 3 most important things one needs in getting a business off the ground?

A: 1. Humbled confidence
2. A support network around you.
3. A nimble, creative, innovative perspective that will carry you through the first, critical three to five years of the go-to-market and growth stage.

[box_light] ON THE STATE OF WOMEN [/box_light]
CC: How do you define what is happening now in women’s empowerment? Next wave of feminism? Renaissance of female power? Where do you think we’ll be in 5 years?

A: The guys have simply been waiting for us to show up and the women are seeing the possibilities in themselves as leaders and economic game changers. It’s exciting!

I am beyond ecstatic that women are experiencing opportunities to achieve their professional goals, on so many levels. But I truly believe the next step is to redirect the focus off the “woman” or “female” part. Instead, we need to shift the focus to addressing women as business owners. As professionals. And focus on providing them with knowledge, information, data, access to networks, talent and funding — and arming them with resources and ways to overcome challenges and obstacles — as a business owner, not as a woman. The more we can get the masses — especially the media — to begin to think and act this way, the more of a true impact and advancement we will see.

[box_light] ON STARTING OUT [/box_light]
CC:What advice do you share with young women coming out of college?

A: You are whoever you want to be. Take all past definitions, limitations and expectations off yourself. Aim high, work hard, show up, ask questions, give opinions, contribute to the everyday successes and critical decisions of your company. Don’t dwell on lack of experience, “no’s” or mistakes. Know that the mistakes you make, or what you lack professionally, does not have any impact on who you are personally.

You have a blank slate. The only person that will keep/hinder you from anything you want to do is you. So, go for it!

[box_light] ON HEALTH [/box_light]
CC: Too often women take care of themselves last, yet self care is critical to success. How do you take care of yourself?

A: I stay authentically connected to what [keeps me] fueled up, fulfilled and enthusiastic. Meditation, setting clear boundaries to have private time with my family, working out, journaling.

[box_light] ON MENTORING[/box_light]
CC: How can men effectively support women’s ambitions in and out of the workplace?

A: Take gender out of the equation and look at your colleague, mentee or business owner as a professional — period. The mind, intellect, experience and manifestation cannot tell the difference if it’s female or male. It just is.