A bit delayed, but happy International Women’s Day! It’s been a hard year, but this is one day I can always look to for inspiration. To celebrate this year, I interviewed Lauren Ford – the Customer and Content Marketing Manager at OneStream Software, a corporate performance management solutions provider. Not only is Ford a total powerhouse in her industry, but she is also a firm believer in female empowerment in the world of tech.
Here are her top 5 tips on how finance companies in particular can strengthen their gender diversity efforts – and a little bit about Ford too:
Tell me a little about your background and how you came to be the Customer & Content Marketing Manager at OneStream.
I have an extensive background working with enterprise software, specific to digital transformation, and I came to OneStream with a decade’s worth of experience in the Marketing Communications field. After earning my degree in Public Communications and Applied Economics from the University of Vermont, I was intrigued by the state of technology: What it had brought us, what it was doing for us now, and where it was taking us next. I was determined to get involved and landed a role at a start-up software development firm, specializing in enterprise content management and capture automation solutions specific to the office of finance. At the time, there were 30 employees – and I was 1 of only 5 women in that fintech space.
Overtime I achieved more prominent roles in the organizations and built customer-centric marketing teams, driving strategies for customer engagement and advocacy. The small start-up I knew had grown immensely but after 8 years it was time to take on a new challenge in a larger, well-known company – which brought me to OneStream.
What is it like to be a high-powered women in this industry at OneStream?
It’s no surprise that there is a shortfall of women in finance-leading roles. But, OneStream has really taken the time to focus on engaging, nurturing and retaining the best professionals throughout the industry. And over time the company has created a culture where women in high-powered positions are more prominent and well-respected. There are many women who have made it to the top – and what’s great about that is they’re open to sharing their journeys, challenges, and wisdom to the greater OneStream community. So much so, that the company recently introduced the Women of OneStream group, which has been developed to support the business success of OneStream and the women within. This group works to inspire and transform the landscape of women in fintech and in technology to achieve personal growth and company success. It’s inspiring to have this type of support within our industry, and I commend OneStream for taking the necessary steps forward to ensure a welcoming workplace.
We both know that there is a great lack of women in finance and fintech industries – what do you make of this disparity?
Obviously, the statistics about women in finance and fintech are quite grim – and sadly this is all too clear when looking at high-level leadership positions. Demanding hours can take away from home life, which could be a main reason why more women aren’t entering finance roles. But in my opinion, the biggest obstacle to women entering the finance field is an unsupportive or biased corporate culture. Even when a company looks to implement change to close the gender gap, people in senior roles are often privier to what’s happening whereas entry-level employees don’t have as much visibility to changes in policy or behavior – and therefore don’t believe it exists.
I think it’s important to communicate messages of change to all levels of the workforce hierarchy, and something as simple as creating more opportunities for mentorship and sponsorship can help make women feel more supported in their finance careers. The good news is we are lifting a veil on a problem that has always been there, but wasn’t always discussed, and now we are paving the way for change.
How can we help to combat this disparity moving forward?
I think there are some strategies that women can use to achieve a more prominent role in their organizations. Standing up, making their voices heard and cultivating relationships with people they respect and admire is important. Creating a support network is key to success. On the other hand, there are several things an organization can do to support diversity, equality, and inclusion to transform the perception of women in fintech:
- Create internal support groups dedicated to diversity (ex. mentorship programs that empower women to improve and advance)
- Offer consistent support from the top
- Develop leadership training to help all get a seat at the table
- Reevaluate company benefits (ex. paid family leave)
- Expand internship/apprentice programs to train young and upcoming females (ex. teach them about finance and technology)
How do we make this push for women in finance as intersectional as possible? Why is this important?
There has been a lot of time and effort spent on segmented groups to promote diversity, but many people fall into multiple minority groups. Women and ethnic minorities are often disadvantaged when seeking roles in the finance field. Business leaders must adopt an intersectional lens and pay more attention to the interplay between the characteristics of ethnicity/race, gender, and social class in their onboarding. To help address this, organizations can:
- Develop a Diversity and Inclusion Policy and create a strategy with quantitative data to meet diverse onboarding goals.
- Expand internship/apprentice programs to train young women in high school and college to teach them about finance and technology and recruit for entry-level positions.
- Encourage employees to invest time (volunteering, speaking, and tutoring) in youth STEM programs to help educate and interact with young people who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you? How does this day tie into your career goals?
International Women’s Day is a day to reflect on the challenges and accomplishments of women throughout history and those who have fought for the equality of so many things I often take for granted. It’s a day filled with pride! I have gratitude for the women I am surrounded by, from my family to my friends and colleagues. This day also is a reminder that although we have come so far, there is still a long way to go.
There is definitely still a long way to go. If you own, manage, or work at a tech or finance company, Ford’s tips are definitely worth trying to implement. There is an amazing generation of young women coming into the workforce, and you won’t want to miss out – this boss knows what she’s talking about.
Which generation has cried the most over money, and why?
(FINANCE) Financial stress is tough on everyone. Here’s who has cried the most about money woes, and a few tips on how to alleviate some of that stress.
There’s been serious critique in the last several years about the educational system and what basic knowledge young people should be taught in the United States. Home Economics (Home Ec) comes to mind (everyone should probably know how to cook or sew a button), as well as literacy with money.
There are many young Americans who grow up not really having a deep understanding of budgeting and fixed and variable expenses… But it may not be their fault. Perhaps, Mom and Dad (or other guardians) have always been paying for all of their expenses, making sure they had a roof over their head, clothes on their backs, and food in their fridge. Because, that is what you’re supposed to do as a parent, correct?
So, while there’s no reason to blame anyone, often the process of learning what it costs to live and pay your bills is a rite of passage.
The current state of debt and financial fears also doesn’t mean that Millennials and Gen Zers weren’t educated around savings or working. Many young people have had part-time jobs (although much less in comparison to Gen X or Baby Boomers) but they may also be able to use the majority of that income for discretionary spending – which never created room for feelings of lack when they didn’t have to pay rent or a mortgage.
This scenario can ultimately create a challenge when you are finally out on your own and now have student loan debt, credit card debt, utility bills, and required car insurance. Especially if you are young person moving to a big city for exploration and/or new opportunities, where the cost of living can be quite high.
If you are feeling nervous or sad around finances, you are not alone. If you have cried over your personal balance sheet or your bank statements, you are also not alone. According to yahoo!money, a recent online survey of 1,004 Americans by CompareCards.com found that,
“7 in 10 Americans said they have cried about money in their lifetimes. Many cited worries over their job or making ends meet. Younger Americans appear the most vulnerable to financial tears. About half of millennials and half of Gen Zers said they cried at least once in the past month over money.”
So how can you cry LESS about money? Well, the first thing is to not be too hard on yourself. But you will also want to create a plan that works for you. Each person deserves financial freedom and not a bank statement that makes them cry on the regular.
Here are some financial literacy resources that may help you figure out how to navigate your way out of crippling debt.
Dave Ramsey Books – The Total Money Makeover – A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
Bravely Go with Kara Perez – Feminist economics + inclusive personal finance
Debt Relief Programs – you’ll have to do your research but there may be a program that is right for you and an agency that can help you set up a realistic payment program for you
Student Loan Forgiveness – it is worth looking in to your options if you are feeling overwhelmed with student loan debt and there may be ways for your loans to be forgiven
Financial Advisor – consider working with a professional that can help you with your budgeting, investing and retirement savings/funds
And you may still cry because this is big adult stuff… But hopefully you trust yourself to do the research, explore, ask, and find options that work for you to gain a little more control over your financial situation.
If you are not already doing so, it may be as simple as starting with a budget to better understand your income and outgoing expenses. Being informed can help you to plan better for the future and make you feel less like crying.
Win over investors immediately with a great 1st impression
(FINANCE) First impressions are everything, and it’s no different when it comes to approaching investors. We have the tips to win them over.
Going in for your first pitch meeting with investors can be nerve-wracking – especially if you haven’t yet met these investors in person. Fortunately, if you land a solid first impression, you can set the right tone for the meeting, and make the rest of the presentation a little easier on yourself.
But why are first impressions so important, and how can you ensure you make one?
Let’s start with a recap of the benefits of a strong first impression:
- A reputation framework. Our brains are wired to make quick judgments about our surroundings. Accordingly, we tend to judge people based on our first interactions with them, with little opportunity to change those initial judgments later on. If you strike investors as a smart, likeable, and capable person early on, they’ll see your pitch deck in a whole new light.
- Memorability. First impressions stick with people. If yours stands out from the other entrepreneurs pitching these investors, they’ll be more likely to remember you, specifically, and therefore may be more likely to eventually fund your project.
- Personal confidence. If you know you’ve nailed the first impression, you’ll feel more confident, and as you already likely know, confidence makes you a better public speaker. You’ll speak more deliberately, more passionately, and with fewer mistakes.
So how can you make sure you land this impression?
- Arrive in a nice vehicle. Show up in a luxury vehicle, or at least one that’s been recently detailed, sends a message that you’re already successful. This isn’t a strict necessity, but it can speak volumes about what you’ve already achieved, and how you might look when you drive to meet your future clients.
- Dress for the occasion. Along similar lines, you’ll want to dress nicely. You don’t need to have ridiculously expensive clothes, but you should wear standard business attire that fits you properly and has no signs of wear. It’s also a good idea to get a haircut, shave, wear tasteful makeup, and make other small touches that improve your overall appearance.
- Smile. Smiling is contagious, and it instantly makes you more likable. Don’t force a grin (or else you’ll look like a robot), but do flash a genuine smile as often as appropriate during the first few minutes you meet your prospective investors.
- Use your investors’ names. When you speak to your investors, try to address them by name as often as possible. People love to hear the sound of their own names, so it might help you win their favor. As an added bonus, it will help you reinforce your association with their name and face, so you eliminate your risk of calling someone by the wrong name later on.
- Warm-up with something personal. It’s tempting to get down to business right away, especially because your investors’ time is limited, but in most cases, it’s better to warm up with something personal—even if it’s only a few lines of a conversation. Tell a funny joke you heard earlier in the day, or share an anecdote about how your morning has been going. It makes you seem more personable and charismatic.
- Find a common link. If you can, try to find something in common with each of your prospective investors. You might comment that you got your tie at the same place they did, or that you use the same type of pen. Look for subtle clues about their personalities, lifestyles, and hobbies, and forge a connection through those channels. People disproportionately like other people like them, so the more commonalities you can find with your prospective investors, the better.
- Watch your posture. Your posture says more about you than you might think. Keep your back straight with your shoulders back, and walk confidently with your hands out of your pockets. This is crucial for projecting confidence (and feeling it internally as well).
If you can land a great first impression, you’ll set the stage for a killer presentation—but don’t think you’re out of the woods yet. You still need to make sure you have a fantastic pitch deck in place, and enough knowledge on your startup idea to handle the toughest investor questions. If this is your first pitch, don’t worry – it does get easier – but the fundamentals are always going to be important.
Follow these 7 steps to get outstanding invoices paid to you ASAP
(FINANCE) For a freelancer, it’s more important than ever to bring up the issue of getting paid on time. Here are 7 tips to get your money.
For many, an awkward topic of conversation revolves around getting paid. Whether asking for a raise or asking to borrow money, people often feeling uncomfortable when talking money.
This is equally, or possibly even more so, true for freelancers who are solely in charge of their finances. Without a system of weekly direct deposit, freelancers have to work overtime to keep their earnings in order.
The issue with this is that clients also have a lot on their plates, and something as simple as a freelancer’s paycheck is common to fall through the cracks. This causes freelancers to have to work friendly reminders into their repertoire.
However, freelancers may not always be knowledgeable of the best ways to keep their finances in check (no pun intended). Below are seven ways to enhance payment methods.
- You have to be willing to make billing a priority. Due to the fact that money is awkward to talk about, as aforementioned, many let this fall by the wayside. The best way to do this is to keep up to date with your invoices and send them as soon as they are done. Making a calendar specific for billing can help with this idea.
- This second bit dates back to when we were young and learning our manners: it is crucial to be polite. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also increases speed in payment. Using “please” and “thank you” in invoicing emails are said to get you paid 5% faster.
- It is best to try and keep a complicated concept like finance as simple as possible. Make sure you are creating specific due dates. This will help to signify importance of payment.
- Now that virtually anything can be done online, it would make sense to use electronic payment verses an old-school check. Accepting online payments will get a user paid, on average, eight days faster as opposed to a check.
- This is an important notion to keep in mind for any aspect of your business life: be professional. Invoices are often seen by many eyes so it is best to include your business’s logo on said invoice. This has been found to increase chances of being paid on time by 10%.
- Specificity is urged again in the form of transparency. Make sure you are giving detailed descriptions on each invoice so that anyone looking at it knows exactly what you are being paid for. By doing this, you are 15% more likely to be paid on time.
- While you may be invoicing month by month, try to avoid sending on the 30th or 31st. Being that everyone, generally, sends their invoices in on these dates, it takes 10 – 20% longer to be paid. With everyone sending it at the end of the month, it has a tendency to back up payroll.
The most important thing to remember is that while the topic of money may be awkward, it is your money. If you let a few invoices fall behind because you are uncomfortable reminding your client, this has a way of adding up. Be sure to keep on track with your finances to earn what you are working for.
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