Three Lessons from Powerful Women in Finance

Powerful Women

In January, The College of New Rochelle in Westchester County, New York hosted an event called Powerful Women in Finance.  Three women from banking giants spoke to an audience of 400+ career women (and a few men) in banking, financial services, publishing, legal, medical, and entrepreneurial pursuits.  Their messages were clear, authentic, honest and yes, powerful.  The women, Peyton Patterson, Suni Harford and Carla Harris, provided us with pearls of wisdom from the stage.  Here are the three lessons we learned from them that day to help us be powerful in our careers:

1.  Mentors / Sponsors
While they took different forms, all agreed they were necessary to climb the corporate ladder.  Suni said that she had a few along the way; there was no one person in particular that helped her make the climb.  Carla advised she had a ‘script mentor,’ someone who allowed her to practice WHAT to say and HOW to say it, before she actually did.

Sponsors played a key role in my corporate career too.  Read more about it in this article.

2.  Game Changing Moment
Each woman talked about a defining moment in her career.  These moments were not positive, uplifting ones.  They were negative, challenging, and quite upsetting to each of the panelists.  They told us this moment became game changing for them because of the way they handled it.  Yes, each was upset by the news, but each decided to do something positive about it.  They took a difficult situation, created a strategy, and took positive action to advance themselves.

How do you want to fight your battles?  These women suggested finding a positive solution, taking action, and turning negative moments into something you are proud of.  What we do in our difficult moments will determine our success.

3.  Having it all
All three women had different approaches to this, which goes to show us there is NO right or wrong approach.  We each need to find what works for us.  Whether we compromise each day on how we spend our time, or compartmentalize our time to ensure that we can squeeze it all in, the key is to define it for yourself.

What makes you happy?  What does happiness look like to you? Make sure you add things that bring you JOY every day.

In summary, here are three keys to creating your own powerful career:

1. Find a sponsor and/or a mentor in your organization.  Find someone, who believes in you, and your potential.  Talk to them, learn from them, and ask them questions.  They will help you avoid the mistakes they made.

2. Take positive action, even when situations are difficult.  Be positive, hopeful and productive and, you will turn the situation around in your favor.

3. Define your life for yourself.  Don’t let others tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing.  You determine your own happiness.

When we do this, we will surely be successful in our careers and in our lives.

The Women

  • Suni Harford, Managing Director and Regional Head of Markets for North America at Citi
  • Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management, Managing Director and Senior Client Adviser at Morgan Stanley
  • Peyton R. Patterson, President and CEO of Bankwell Financial Group

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