On 16th May, I had the pleasure of attending a Women in Fintech Power Hour session with Jeni Mundy, Visa’s Regional Managing Director of the UK and Ireland.
Working in financial services as a woman is known to be a tough gig, and Jeni was very much able to appreciate this. The statistics clearly show that in finance as career level rises, female representation declines. Although 46% of financial service employees are women, only 15% of executive level positions are filled by women.
Jeni is one of those few women breaking the barriers. She offered some inspiring insights into her experiences and gave useful and practical advice to us fellow females wanting to make it to the top. Here are her five top tips on how to succeed as a woman in a man’s world.
- Learn the unwritten rules of the majority
Working in a male dominated environment can be a political minefield. Don’t sabotage yourself by not knowing the unwritten rules and acting blindly. Take time to observe your environment and your colleagues and get a grip of the game, to the extent that you know it better than they do.
- Stop saying sorry
“Over the years, I’ve heard dozens of young women apologising profusely in the workplace, even when they’ve done nothing wrong,” said Jeni. This tendency to apologise is dangerous; it affects the way we as women feel about ourselves, and it can even set us back in our careers. Unnecessary or avoidable apologising can lessen the power of the words when women have actually made a mistake. If we apologise too much, the apology become irrelevant and exhausted, even insincere, which can break professional trust and set us back in achieving our goals.
- Perform your current role from the perspective of your boss
Performing your day to day job through the lens of your boss will not only improve your overall execution but demonstrates a broader perspective and good strategic thinking. It also shows an awareness of how your role connects with others – an important managerial skill worth demonstrating to your boss.
- EQ is as important (if not more important) than IQ
“This is what will stand you apart and make you successful, particularly in managerial roles,” said Jeni. As you progress up the ladder, it’s important to prioritise emotional intelligence over learning new things. Consistently seeking out feedback and working on personal development, as a manager, a team member and a human, is one of the ultimate keys to success.
- Be a master of the facts
“Get rid of the bullsh*t ladies – its unhelpful and it’s a waste of time,” said Jeni. Know your facts and know them well, and no one can argue with you or shoot you down. Then combine this tight knowledge with emotional control and levelheadedness, and you’ll be a real force to be reckoned with.
Jeni ended on an interesting insight that when women experience success, they naturally credit their colleagues, but when they fail they blame themselves. Men tend to do the exact opposite. “There’s no immediate solution for this,” said Jeni. Just be aware of it next time you’re beating yourself up over a minor slip-up, whilst your male colleague gloats about the fact he’s single-handedly discovered the cure of cancer.