How I Got Here: Women in Finance
With fewer than 15% of finance executives being women, we wanted to shine a light on four incredible finance leaders who are chipping away at the glass ceiling: Jennifer Ng, Vice President of Financial Planning and Strategy at background check platform Checkr; Nina Qi, VP of Finance and Strategy at mobile photography app VSCO; Stefanie Layne, Vice President of Treasury, Payroll, and Tax at marketing automation platform Klaviyo; and Theresa Bufano, Director of Financial Planning and Analysis at spend management platform Teampay.
- Finance leaders exhibit a passion for problem-solving, curiosity, and developing people. You can move up the ranks by demonstrating drive to take on new projects and taking your learnings into the next.
- Who you know matters, so don't hold back on building relationships. The panelists all mentioned someone "taking a chance of me." Those chances don't happen by themselves. Put yourself out there and start connecting with other members of your team, or across your network. It can be daunting to do cold outreach, but you will be surprised that, more often than not, people are willing to share their insights. Make sure to come prepared with an objective and goal for the meeting.
- Don't discount yourself because you don't check all the boxes for a role. Even if you meet 7 out of 10 qualifications for a role, apply and, if possible, get a referral from someone who works at the company (if you know them personally). If you're able to talk to the recruiter, sell them on why you're right for the role and how you can close the gap. If not, don't hesitate to reach out to the hiring manager or someone on the team to determine how you can get qualified.
- Nurture your personal (work) brand and network. Build your relationships on and beyond your team so that you have a bench of advocates for the times you need them — whether it's seeking a promotion, a new job, or earning the opportunity to lead a new initiative.
- How to deal with being in a room with senior execs? Relax, it's okay to feel uncomfortable. "Recognize you're invited to a seat at the table, and that you were hired for your role for a reason," advised Jen. Stef asserted: "You're just as good as people in the room. Pull your shoulders back and do you." "Recognize your own discomfort but put your best food forward. Listen, absorb, and over time, you will get more comfortable with speaking up," Nina shared. Theresa added: "Don't bow out because you're nervous. Do what you need to do to feel comfortable (like coming prepared with research), and stick with it."
- Seize opportunities for raising your visibility. Avoid making assumptions and expecting projects and experience to be handed to you. Speak up, raise your hand, and ask how you can help. To stay visible, utilize all the channels available to you to communicate what kind of projects you're willing to take on or share the impact of what you're working on (Slack, 1:1 meetings, team meetings, email, and more).
- Prioritize your time and make sure to take care of yourself and what matters most. There is no perfect balance — give yourself compassion to spend time in the way that works best for you.
- Your career is a journey, and it's going to evolve. Embrace the experience and allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them.
- Be authentic. By showing up as yourself, you can add value in so many ways that nobody else can.
- Be kind to yourself. There is no set path or time. Reflect on what you're passionate about and have the courage to do it. We all had to get started somewhere, so work hard and keep your head up!