Be a Strong Woman and Dare: Growth Opportunities for Women in Finance
We live in a society where women are still underrepresented in many industries, especially finance. That’s why it is so important to have open and candid conversations with women in finance, to encourage those who want to grow and develop professionally and personally.
Whether you just started your career in accounting or are the CFO of a large company — women in finance need to stick together, learn from each other, and inspire future generations.
That’s what our podcast, Jenji Talks, is all about. We interview women from all over the finance industry to hear their story and learn from their experience. Podcast 1 of Jenji Talks featured Muriel Avignon, who works in the fintech industry.
From Muriel, we learn about challenges women face in the industry, how to leverage opportunities, and how to dare to reach your goals.
Muriel Avignon studied in the United States and started her career in accounting at a start-up hardware company. With one foot in the start-up world, Muriel realized she had a love for fast-paced environments.
After a couple years, Muriel moved back to Paris and took a job with Google. This made her fall more in love with the fast-moving tech world. She saw opportunities for growth and professional development, since the nature of a company like Google is that you are always learning, always growing, and always moving.
From there, Muriel wanted to work for a smaller company where she could make more of an impact. She decided to take a job with a smaller firm — Dataiku, a French technology company. Joining as a Financial Controller, Muriel grew alongside the company and now works as the VP of Finance Operations.
Embrace the Steep Learning Curve
Both Google and Dataiku are fast-paced environments. The nature of the tech world is constant innovation and movement. This means that you’re on a steep learning curve with a demand to always improve and grow.
This kind of fast-paced environment can be stressful. But it’s also exciting and rewarding! From her experiences in these companies, Muriel learned some useful lessons:
- You will learn on the go. Fast-paced environments demand that you be creative, agile, and reactive. These are not skills we usually learn in school, so be prepared to learn as you go!
- Steep learning curves are an opportunity for growth. Instead of fearing failure or being left behind, there is an opportunity to grow and get better.
- People are the most valuable resource. In seasons of growth and company re-organization, hold on to people as your most valuable resource. Make sure they feel valued and heard, giving them a voice and place to make a difference.
In each job, Muriel learned more about what she likes and where her skills are. This is an important lesson for all women in finance: take each job as a learning opportunity to help grow your skills and determine which path is right for you.
Build a Network for Growth
One of Muriel’s top lessons is that people are your most valuable resource. When working at Google, she valued the international culture, where people from all over the world came together to innovate and grow.
Then, in Dataiku, she learned just how important it is to build a network. In the fintech industry, there are always challenges and problems to sort through. By growing her network, Muriel was able to tap into important resources and people who could help her.
Here are some of the benefits to building a network:
- Find solutions with people who are working on the same problem.
- Feel a sense of fulfilment by helping other people and giving advice.
- Use human resources to navigate the challenges that come in fast-paced, quick-growing start-up or scale-up companies.
People are the single most valuable resource we have. Whether it’s your colleague, client, mentor, or boss — you have something to both learn about and teach in that relationship. Once you view people as a valuable resource, your networks will help accelerate your professional and personal development.
Dare to Ask, Lead, and Grow
Women in finance face some unique challenges. Compared to their male counterparts, they’re less likely to speak up and ask for opportunities such as a career move or development plan.
Muriel observed this kind of hesitancy in herself, but saw other people speak up and ask for what they wanted. This is when she learned she had to dare to ask. It took confidence to do, but Muriel discovered a system that worked for her:
- Get advice from trusted people. This will help build your confidence and show you your strengths and opportunities.
- Watch other people who “dare to ask” and learn from them. Try to see how they do it and take tips and advice from them. If they can do it, why can’t you?
- Be patient. You need to select your moment carefully to ask for an opportunity, raise or whatever it might be. If you ask at the wrong time, it may not work out and your confidence will be impacted.
Daring to ask is a simple thing — you just have to go for it! But at the same time, it’s not easy. It takes time, confidence, and some level of risk. That’s why we want to lift each other up as women in finance and encourage each other to dare!
The Way Forward
Muriel’s career as a woman in finance is inspirational. She learned from past opportunities, built her network, and dared to ask for opportunities. This is something that all of us can do!
If you want to be inspired by more women like Muriel, check out other episodes of the Jenji Talks Podcast. We have some amazing guests coming up who are all successful women in finances. Guests include Nadine Pichelot, VP Finance Europe, Anaplan; Margaux Grégoir, VP Finance, Luko; and Olfa Zorgati, CFO & EVP of Operations, ESI Group. These women have a lot to teach us so that we can all become strong women who dare to ask.