Navigating Success for Women Leaders in Mongolia

March 6, 2024
Solongo Batbekh CEO pf Metagro Solongo Batbekh, CEO of Metagro, the agriculture arm of MCS Group. Photo: Solongo Batbekh.

For Solongo Batbekh, the strengths of female leadership are a source of pride. As the CEO of Metagro, the newly established agriculture arm of MCS Group, she believes gender diversity is key to an organization’s resilience and encourages empathetic decision-making at the management level. Mongolia has significant natural resources and sustainability is high on its development agenda. Celebrating International Women's Day 2024, this is the first of a series of conversations with women who are leading the sustainability agenda in Mongolia.

As a female pioneer in your industry in Mongolia, what are some of the challenges you face?

The make-up of the Metagro management team and the board at MCS Group, which both contain a mixture of influential male and female members, provides a stable and balanced working environment. Thanks to this structure, I personally do not perceive any gender-specific challenges in my working environment. Overall, the governance and organizational culture within our group help mitigate any gender-specific obstacles.

I firmly believe that if any individual doubts or disrespects women in leadership positions, then the problem is with the one who behaves in this manner. However, I do recognize that there might be significant challenges for women in leadership roles within small and medium enterprises (SMEs) or other entities that lack such strong support systems.

Why is sustainability important for you?

Being engaged in an intensive farming pilot project within the area of nomadic pastoralism, I am constantly reminded of the importance of sustainability for aligning our goals with the nomadic herding culture. Nomadic herding is under threat. Given the challenges posed by climate change and overgrazing, it is vital to boost the resilience of herders. The severe impact of harsh winters on them and their animals this year has been a concrete example of this threat.

As we design and incorporate intensive farming into the existing supply chain of meat production, we need to ensure the sustainability of nomadic herding—a fundamental component of Mongolia's heritage and identity. However, we also need to remember that there is no short cut to sustainability. Which is why passion and commitment are key.

What was the best career advice you received that helped you emerge as a female leader?

After graduating from university, I began volunteering for Raleigh International, a UK-based youth development charity, and went on six expeditions across Mongolia and Chile from 1999 to 2001. Following these expeditions, transitioning into my professional career was initially challenging and I struggled to fit into a business organization. I soon approached one of my expedition leaders for advice on changing my job. His guidance was invaluable. Conflict is inevitable when dealing with people, which is why changing jobs is not the solution. Instead, he encouraged me to learn to effectively manage and navigate through conflict.

What is your leadership style and how do you empower your staff?

Helping each person unlock his or her potential and nurturing their confidence is at the core of my leadership approach. I strongly believe that simplicity and openness provide the space for people to grow. They enable people to carry out their mission with enthusiasm and a sense of ownership.


Solongo Batbekh with the Raleigh International youth development charity. Solongo Batbekh with the Raleigh International youth development charity. Photo: Solongo Batbekh.


What are some of the strategies that helped you overcome gender-related obstacles and biases in your career?

Rather than dwelling on the downsides, I focus on the advantages and benefits of being a female leader and team player. By leveraging these advantages, I have managed to find effective strategies that help me overcome any barriers.

How do you strike a work-life balance? What advice would you give to other women facing similar challenges?

I do not consider myself adept at balancing work and life, so I am not inclined to offer advice in this area. I do not excel at it. In my opinion, few people can achieve that desired balance. I simply believe in aiming to find balance and doing one's best, a principle that should pertain not only to women but to everyone.

In your experience, what are some of the key benefits that gender diversity brings to organizations and how can companies in Mongolia leverage this to their advantage?

In my experience, gender diversity brings balance and harmony to any team or organization, fostering greater sustainability and success across all levels. It also naturally encourages empathetic decision-making at the management level. Leveraging Mongolia's tradition of gender diversity can provide unique advantages for companies not only in the domestic market but also globally.