A strong personal brand aligns with one’s talents, value and purpose. This alignment may not always be easy to achieve for women building a career in a challenging industry. Our guest blogger this month is Cecilia Harvey, a senior women working in FinTech, as well as a tech start-up founder. With over 20 years in financial services, and one of the small number of women in leadership within Financial Technology today, Cecilia is an advocate for not only women in FinTech, but also for women aspiring to leadership anywhere. Here she talks about how supporting and empowering other women is an important part of own personal brand…
“Female empowerment is a core part of my personal brand which has been strongly influenced by two life experiences: (1) being raised in a household of only women, and (2) attending Wellesley College, an all women’s university. Growing up I was raised by my mother, grandmother, two aunts and great aunt. My home was full of hardworking women supporting one another, which is a core value and very much a part of who I am.
Going to Wellesley College, an all women’s university, certainly influenced my mission to help advance women in the workplace. Wellesley is an environment that fosters a culture of women supporting each other. Being in an environment where you constantly see the success of other women instills confidence. We all came from different backgrounds but we faced similar challenges. There is nothing more rewarding than to celebrate another woman’s success. One woman’s success should inspire other women.
Women Supporting Other Women
Empowerment is using your influence and resources to help advance others. Leading and championing initiatives that advance women is a core component to my personal brand. When I became “management” in the workplace, I was in a position to drive positive change for women. I noticed the low number of women on promotion lists, the high number of women on redundancy lists, the high percentage of female attrition, and the significant salary gaps between men and women performing similar roles. There was not a strong pipeline of women being considered for senior positions. Talented and qualified women existed and they wanted the opportunities but somehow they were not on these lists.
I saw very talented but disappointed women leaving the company and even the industry so I decided to do something about it and create a program, Prometheus, to improve the female talent pipeline. Prometheus connected women to peers, senior management, opportunities to showcase their talent across the organisation and resources to grow their career.
Prometheus was a successful formula so I’ve taken that same concept and applied it to Tech Women Today (TWT). TWT showcases women in technology and, again seeks to connect women to their peers, influencers and opportunities in the industry. The most empowering aspect of TWT is how women support other women. Members of TWT recognise their own power to be a resource to help other women.
Financial Inclusion is a focus area for Tech Women Today because technology can provide access to financial services, such as bank accounts and loans, which increases women’s bargaining power in society as they are equipped with the resources to help them earn and maintain a living. Without access to basic banking resources women are most vulnerable to exploitation.
Empowerment is also a key culture value of a business I co-founded, WalkingRed, which provides on demand beauty, fitness and wellness services. The majority of our staff is women early in their careers. I see WalkingRed as a platform in which very talented women and men can showcase their capabilities and build a career in a challenging industry where it’s not easy to advance.
Empowerment involves about putting yourself in “power positions” by leveraging your resources and network to improve your situation. I always ask women to ask themselves five questions to determine if they are power positioning themselves:
- Do you know the market salary rate for your role?
- Do you have someone at your job that will sponsor you for promotion?
- Are you in regular contact with at least two recruiters in your industry that alert you about career opportunities?
- Do you have an “Advisory Board” that is a sounding board and offer advice for how to advance your career?
- Google yourself: Is your online profile an accurate and positive representation of yourself? Does your LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles best represent your personal brand?
Unfortunately the answer to these questions is usually “No”. Women that have answered “Yes” to these 5 questions will find themselves in a position of power because they will have critical information and multiple options that will allow them to advance their careers.
Legacy and Purpose
There is nothing empowering about advancing yourself with minimal concern or effort to advance other women. Female empowerment can mean many things however I believe the fundamental aspect of female empowerment involves women supporting other women. This female empowerment has purpose and leaves a legacy which is a key aspect of the personal brand I want to portray.”
Cecilia Harvey is a senior women working in FinTech, as well as a tech start-up founder. Her previous roles include being the COO of Citigroup Markets and Securities Services Technology, and positions with Morgan Stanley, Barclays Capital and IBM Consulting. You can follow her on Twitter at @IMCeciliaHarvey.