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  • 30 Jun 2015 7:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Today’s business landscape is heavily mined with systems, signals and detection devices, yet financial crimes continue to be perpetuated on companies.  Boston Women in Finance tackled the subject of fraud recently, led by moderator Donna Walsh, Highland Financial Group, with speakers Meredith Leary, Partner, Mintz Levin; Sheila Magoon, Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Kelly Webber, Supervisor of FBI Boston’s Forensic Accountant Squad. 

    The Person You Least Expect  Typically fraud within a company is led by an individual who has oversight of critical components of the system. The person knows how to game the system, including how to avoid detection.  Thus it is often “the person you least expect,” since that person has somehow accrued responsibilities that rightfully should be distributed among others for appropriate checks and balances.

    Checks and Balances   Segregation of duties is a basic tenet of fraud prevention.  This principle dictates, for example, that a single person cannot be responsible for the full  cycle of sending out invoices, collecting receipts and then adjusting accounts receivable.  Instead the duties should be divided among multiple people to ensure shared control.  Yet sometimes companies are short-staffed or decide it’s “more efficient” and one person winds up with full oversight of a material financial process.

    Confronting Fraud  If a company determines that a fraud has occurred, it is very important to take proper steps both internally and externally. Since it is likely the first time the company has had to manage through the process, there should be immediate consideration to bringing in experienced financial and legal resources. 

    Preventive Measures  Do not rely solely on regularly scheduled audits or in-place systems to uncover fraud.  The person committing the deception knows how to work around these detection devices.  As such, companies need to take a holistic view including a top-down review of financial processes as well as a focused assessment of the individual components.

    Pay Attention A poorly designed system and/or an overly entrusted employee can result in a small infraction becoming a larger problem. The best defense is a good offense – including background hiring checks, ongoing internal controls and attention to early warning signals.

  • 04 May 2015 10:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Our panelists, from left to right: Kerri Casarano, Client Relationship Associate, KForce; Sharon Schuler, SVP Finance, Americas Region, Clarks; Paula Higgins, Program Manager, MassMutual Financial Group; and Elizabeth Hailer, Marketing, Branding and Business Development Consulting. 
    In April 2015, Boston Women in Finance presented "Differentiating Yourself for Success," an in-depth look at how you can brand yourself for success. Our panel will discuss best practices for promoting yourself, why executive presence is important, and how you can take your career to the next level. 

    We learned:

    Be a Great Business Partner:

    • Help solve problems, brand yourself as a ‘fixer’
    • Foster innovation and collaborate
    • Always add value and contribute
    • Ask good questions and always listen
    • Always follow through on what you promise

    Find Your Unique Brand:

    • No matter what your level, always try to learn new things
    • Get a mentor
    • Find your passion – be honest with yourself about what you want to do
    • Be clear with your management about what you want to do and how you want to grow
    • Don’t let yourself get pigeon-holed – while you will have to specialize your skills at times, don’t be myopic. Always challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone to generalize your skills.

    Promote The Good Work You Do:

    • Be mindful of where you are in your career – promotion tactics work differently at different stages
    • Find opportunities to demonstrate your competencies
    • As a leader, always promote your team first
    • When on LinkedIn, promote the good work your company is doing all of the time, and the good work that you’re doing only some of the time

    What Your Managers Don’t Want To See:

    • Don’t blame others
    • No gossiping
    • No whining or excuses
    • Don’t be indirect

    Our panelists parting advice – always be authentic, and always be working on your relationships.

    Interested in learning more about Boston Women in Finance? Click here. To register for our next program, "Identifying Fraud: Malfunction or Malfeasance," please click here.

  • 30 Apr 2015 9:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CAMBRIDGE, MA  – Harvard Smart Woman Securities, a student-run investment organization based at Harvard University, selected Beth Kurth Woman of the Year 2015. The Harvard SWS program includes education, mentoring and research. Over the last three years Beth has lectured on The Financial Crisis of 2008 and How to Read the Wall Street Journal: Statistics, Stories and Disestimation.

    “We are delighted to share Beth’s recognition,” said Boston Women in Finance president Macken Toussaint.  “When Harvard SWS was looking for instructors, they contacted Boston Women in Finance and we were able offer speakers with depth and breadth of financial expertise.”

    “This is truly a great honor to be selected by this talented group of Harvard students. I admire their hard work and innovation, and look forward to watching their continued success,” said Beth Kurth.  

    Beth leads Investor Relations for LeMaitre Vascular (Nasdaq: LMAT).  LeMaitre is a global provider of innovative devices for the treatment of peripheral vascular disease.  Previously she led the Corporate Forum, a resource for public companies to meet with the retail investment community.  Other experience includes Director of Investor and Public Relations for an enterprise software company and Public Information Officer for the federal government’s emergency management agency.  She began her career as an analyst with an economic consulting firm.
    Beth is past president of Boston Women in Finance and currently serves as Chair of the Advisory Council.  She holds an MBA from Boston University and a BA in English from Tulane University.

    About Harvard Smart Woman Securities  Harvard SWS is a premier investment organization with chapters nationwide devoted to educating undergraduate women about investing in the financial markets. Through instructive seminars, mentoring initiatives, and meetings with successful investors such as Warren Buffett, SWS provides resources upon which women can build greater knowledge of the financial markets. By educating, mentoring, and giving practical experience to undergraduate women, SWS aims to empower a new generation of women investors for the future. 

    About Boston Women in Finance  Founded in 1995, Boston Women in Finance is a community of women professionals demonstrating thought leadership across the financial sector and financial function.  Our monthly programming offers insight into financial issues, workplace events and leadership strategies.   Our diverse membership represents commercial and investment banks, brokerage houses, asset managers, biotech, high tech, insurance companies, accounting and consulting firms, entrepreneurs and academic institutions.  

  • 22 Mar 2015 10:11 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In today’s data-driven world, there are more numbers and metrics than ever.  As finance professionals, we inherently understand the numbers.  The challenge, therefore, is communicating the meaning of the data to a full range of audiences. 

    Led by moderator Liz Sadwick, Director of Business Development, RPg Asset Management, panelists at Boston Women in Finance’s “How to Tell a Story with Numbers” reviewed how to identify the right data, words and pictures to tell a meaningful story.     

    The Right Data   Sometimes the story begins with the data and other times it is the data that leads to a story of interest.  Beth Healy, Financial and Investigative Reporter, The Boston Globe, explained that at times she will use data to support an anecdotal story.  Other times she will find a story when she is reading the fine print and/or footnotes.  Whereas the headline of the press release may tout an impressive-looking number, there is often a more interesting story buried in the notes.  She encouraged us as finance professionals to make sure there is an explanation for both good and bad data points.

    The Right Words  Pat Deware, CFO, Selventa, reminded the audience that numbers are only important if they offer meaning into a relevant topic.  As such, she works hard to ensure she narrows down the important data points, then ties those to issues that the management team cares about.  Rather than talk about every metric available, she focuses on the ones that are of use, then uses appropriate descriptions to ensure the meaning is clear to her audience.

    The Right Pictures  Infographics and visuals are increasingly important.  So much so that major publications now have editors responsible just for visual content.  Connie Hubbell, President The Hubbell Group, also impressed upon the group of ensuring that all content – from infographics to  investor decks – be easily viewed on a mobile device. 

    In sum, numbers cannot tell a story by themselves.  Whether using numbers to advocate for more resources for your department or to showcase an exciting company development, it’s important to choose the appropriate  data, describe it with meaningful words, and deliver the complete message in a visually compelling manner.  

    Our next luncheon program, "Differentiating Yourself For Success," is scheduled for April 28th - get your ticket now!

  • 02 Mar 2015 1:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The digital revolution is here, do you know where your data is?  IT executive Jo Hoppe provided insight into today’s IT landscape including the move to the cloud, the importance of a digital data strategy and the crucial questions to ask each and every time you post to social media.

    “Big iron” versus the Cloud   Many companies today are moving their data centers away from on-site hardware and instead are utilizing off-site cloud computing centers. The business case for cloud computing is pervasive and compelling. The efficiencies include:

    • Elastic resource, where intermittent high capacity usage is paid only as needed
    • No capital expenditure, but instead an operating expense as incurred
    • Leveraging the massive purchasing power of cloud suppliers such as Amazon Web Services, Google or Microsoft

    Security  But is cloud computing as secure as a self-hosted system?  In many cases the answer will be yes, the cloud is as secure if not more so. This is because cloud suppliers can leverage security resources just as they leverage purchasing power.  

    Data - the Crown Jewels  Whereas “big data” means exabytes of information, most companies have far less – maybe a few hundred customers or a few thousand transactions.  Nevertheless, all companies should have a digital capital strategy which allows for insights into who are the buyers and what are they buying, whether that be from structured or unstructured (think image or text formats) data. 

    Define Yourself or Be Defined Companies must have a social media strategy as part of a holistic marketing plan.  Social media has moved into mainstream adoption and if you do not actively define your company, others (including competitors) will impose their definition on you. Thus it will be their definition of your capabilities that people discover first.

    Privacy One of the biggest threats to privacy is when individuals post to social media without thinking through  the “connect the dots” implications.  It is critical to understand the entirety of your on-line communications to ensure personal as well as business security.   

    IT has come a long way since stand-alone computers worked only with certain devices across tethered pathways.  Today’s world of seamless global connectivity and unified communications offers  more opportunities to connect, and more obligations to use those connections in a thoughtful manner. 

    Please join us for our next program, "Telling A Story With The Numbers" on March 17th!
    Click here to learn more.

  • 19 Jan 2015 9:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    From left to right, our speakers were Barbara Crawford Nobles, PhD, (formerly) Secretariat, Chief Human Resource Officer, Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Karen Cambray, CFO, Cartera Commerce; Rebecca Chasen, Partner, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services; and Michele Tilghman, Talent Representative, Kforce (Moderator).
    This is a common question: should I stay with my current company to advance, or move on to where the grass may be greener?  Boston Women in Finance convened a panel of executives who provided their insights on the topic, including stretching to a new role, aligning skills to market demands and ensuring ongoing growth – be it at one company or many.

    The panelists represented a wide range of career approaches.  For Rebecca Chasen, Partner, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, remaining at one company for 20 years has provided the path  to gain different responsibilities to become a Partner.  “Working within one company has allowed me to progress through different roles, with different teams, including special projects and other learning opportunities.”

    A different route was chosen by Karen Cambray, CFO, Cartera Commerce.  Her career path has included “short shelf-life companies, typically VC-backed, where they are looking for an exit sooner rather than later.”  The panelists agreed with her that there is no one recipe for success.  Some companies may offer opportunities to keep your skills growing, whereas others may have more limited paths to develop your career. 

    Barbara Crawford Nobles, PhD, (formerly) Secretariat, Chief Human Resource Officer, Commonwealth of Massachusetts,  explained her position “ended the day Governor Patrick’s term ended.”   As she looks forward, “I consider the experiences I bring and what are my current requirements.” There may be times when a candidate might want international experience and other times when flexibility may be key, she noted. 

    Michele Tilghman, Talent Representative, Kforce, advised the audience to ensure their skills are applicable to the new job for which they are applying.  “You have to set yourself apart. What are the quantifiable results you can point to?”  Michele transitioned from one industry, public accounting, to another, recruiting, utilizing overlapping skills.

    To ensure your talents are aligned to current market demands, the panel recommended using your network to understand different roles, responsibilities and requirements.  You may also want to take a recruiter’s call, whether or not you are actively looking, as this will provide insight into what the market is demanding.  “It is important to make sure you have the right tools in your toolbox,” said Tilghman. 

    How will you know when it’s time to move on to a new role?  Ask yourself if you’re ready for change.  “For me, the impetus has typically been when I felt I was not growing any more, that I’ve ‘been there, done that,’” said Nobles.  This may not necessarily mean moving to a new company.  Rather, a career path can transpire at almost any time and anywhere if you keep your skills current and your connections intact, while knowing what it is you want for yourself.  

    Boston Women in Finance would like to extend a special thanks to our friends at Deloitte for generously hosting our January program!

    *Be sure to register for our next program, Watch Football Like a Pro, generously hosted by our friends at Wells Fargo. This program is complimentary for BWF members! To learn more, or to register, please click here.*

  • 04 Dec 2014 10:49 AM | Deleted user

    11 players, 90 minutes and 7 miles.  Just a few of the facts we learned at the December program of Boston Women in Finance,  “How to Watch Soccer Like a Star.” 

    Led by Felicity Day, NSCAA Premier Coach and Managing Director of John Smith Soccer Academy,  we learned to look for “triangles and diamonds” on the field as teams use different “systems of play” to stage their strikers, mid-fielders and backs.  Whereas one team may use a 1-3-5-2 set-up, with 1 keeper, 3 defenders, 5 mid-fielders and 2 strikers; another may use a 1-3-4-3 with the keeper again assisted by 3 defenders, but now with 4 mid-fielders and 3 strikers.  Her advice, “A coach has to adjust as appropriate.  If the other team has additional strikers, maybe that means you match their system of play or, depending on your team’s skillset, maybe you stick with a set game plan.”  Advice that applies equally well in the workplace!

    Although soccer is a 90-minute game, the referees hold more power than the time clock.  While the game clock counts up to 90 minutes, the referees can add “stoppage time” based on time when play was halted on the field.  While typically no longer than 5 minutes, she reminded us that, “Five minutes may not sound like a long time, but stoppage time can be very meaningful” as evidenced by Portugal’s game-tying goal against the U.S. men's team during this summer’s FIFA match.

    As to the physical demands of the game, Felicity pointed out that in a professional game, the players can run as much as 7 miles.  It may be tempting to give players a rest, but coaches must consider substitutions carefully as there are only 3 allowed per game and once a player is taken out, that player cannot return to the field.  This led to a discussion of yellow and red card penalties.  Whereas the former is typically only a warning, the latter is a serious offense and the player must not only leave the game, but also the field altogether.  Important too, a player removed by a red card may not be substituted. Thus the team as a whole is at a serious disadvantage with only 10 players remaining.

    What if the game ends in a tie?  There will be two 15-minute overtimes as needed.  Overtime play is not sudden death, but rather continues the full 15 minutes.  And if after the overtime play the game is still tied?  Then the coach chooses 5 players to participate in a shootout.  Talk about pressure - one player at a time, alternating teams, trying to score a goal.

    Felicity imparted some great leadership lessons as well.  “Own your place on the field,” she said.  “If you’re on the field, whether you think you’re as good as the other players or not, you’re there for a reason.”

    With women’s FIFA world cup play scheduled for this summer, there is no better time to support the game of soccer and use these lessons learned both on and off the field.

    Felicity Day played soccer in college and professionally in England, before earning one of the highest coaching licenses, the National Soccer Coaches of America (NSCAA) Premier Diploma ‘with distinction’.   Following which she was recruited to be on the Academy staff of the NSCAA. In her role as Director of Coaching of a local club, John Smith Soccer Academy, she is one of a handful of women to hold that title in the state.  Felicity was inducted into the University of Mary Washington's Sports Hall of Fame in October 2009. Additional information on John Smith Soccer Academy is available here.

  • 18 Nov 2014 11:08 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We often think of leadership as truly tested during times of crises. However the art of leadership is developed through ongoing accountability and responsibility.  In October, Boston Women in Finance hosted “The Art of Leadership,” where our panel of speakers discussed whether leadership is a natural skill or learned, why it’s ok to fail, professional presence and the importance of taking responsibility for your career. Our speakers included:

    We learned:

    • Trust Your Gut: If something doesn’t seem right, say something.
    • Invest in Yourself: Working with executive coaches and leadership development programs can help build your confidence.
    • Get Comfortable Making Mistakes: Leadership is about taking risks, and with risks come the potential to make a mistake.
    • Exude Confidence: The majority of the people we speak to don’t remember what we said, but how we said it.
    • Everything is a Choice: Work where you are celebrated, not tolerated. Own your career.

     For more information about this program or more, contact us today. 

  • 11 Nov 2014 9:20 PM | Deleted user
    Boston Women in Finance presented “Working with Boards: Who, When and How to Serve” as our  November program.  Led by moderator Kathleen Burke, Vice President, General Counsel and Assistant Secretary, MKS Instruments, Inc., the panel covered all aspects of board service – from first appointment to responsibilities to rewards.

    “I joined my first board because I was in transition and wanted to fill my time,” explained panelist Sue Gorman, President, New England School of Acupuncture.  This first board position led to a second board aligned with her skills as a financial practitioner, the Boston Chapter of Financial Executives International (FEI).  Stephanie Sonnabend, Co-founder and Chair, 2020 Women on Boards, joined her first public company board, Century Bank, while president of Sonesta Hotels.  Century got a “two-fer” with Stephanie, a board member with expertise in the hospitality industry, an important segment for the bank, and also a director who added diversity.  Emily Walt, Director of Investor Relations, Carbonite, Inc. let her passion for networking guide her first board position.  She said, “I joined Ellevate because I wanted to help women succeed in business; it’s very important to me.”

    In terms of responsibilities, the panelists explained that not only is each board  structured differently, but also there are different roles within a board.  For example, Emily also serves on the board of her professional organization, the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) where roles include Treasurer, Programming, Membership, Communications and Sponsorship.  As chair of the Sponsorship Committee, Emily’s responsibility covers “the care and feeding of our sponsors.”  Stephanie, as chair of Century Bank’s audit committee,  helps ensure financial integrity within the highly regulated banking industry.  In her role as president of FEI, Sue explained she makes sure her all-volunteer board knows how much their work is appreciated.  “I spend a lot of time sending out ‘atta boys’.”  

    Just as roles vary widely, so too does the time commitment.   Sue estimates she sometimes spends 10 hours a week overseeing FEI activities given the size of the board, the number of members and the full event calendar.  Stephanie can spend 2 or 3 days at a time preparing and attending quarterly board meetings with additional time spent on monthly calls.   Emily advised board candidates to understand the commitment prior to joining a board.  She said, “Make sure you know in advance what is expected so that neither party is disappointed. And if you’re recruiting for a board, it’s important to provide a realistic overview to the candidate.”

    One aspect the panelists were in agreement on was the benefit of board service.  Each said that board service had helped not only with time management and operational discipline, but also in working with a broad range of people.  In addition, the panelists noted that board service can be a great balance to the demands of day-to-day work.  “There were days when I was feeling pretty beat up at the office,” Stephanie commented, “and then I would attend the board meeting and my equilibrium would be restored because once again my input was appreciated.”  “I agree,” said Sue, “Board service is a great affirmation of confidence and competence. “ 

    Interested in learning more about board service?  Here are resources recommended by the speakers:

    The Boston Club Women executives and leaders in the Northeast; a resource for board recruiters

    Idealist Find volunteer and non-profit opportunities

    BoardProspects  The online boardroom recruitment destination

  • 25 Sep 2014 2:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Food is big business. Whether it's homestyle or healthful,  classic comfort or fine dining, food is a commercial enterprise.   The business of food includes filling seats, moving product, managing people and making sound financial decisions.

    Our September kick-off event, graciously hosted by Brown Rudnick, featured a panel of foodie all-stars including:  Alexis Gelburd-Kimler, Owner, West Bridge Restaurant;  Shirley Leung, Columnist, The Boston Globe; and Aimee Morgida, Director of Operations, Roche Bros. Supermarkets.

     Our Speakers:
    Alexis Gelburd-Kimler,
    Co-Owner, West Bridge
     Shirley Leung, Columnist, The Boston Globe
     Aimee Morgida, Director of Operations, Roche Bros. Supermarkets
    1st Course - Trying Something New

    Alexis had been on the management side of the restaurant business for years when she teamed up with a partner to start a restaurant of her own.   Shirley had been a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, The Boston Globe and the Wall Street Journal when she decided to come back to the Globe to try a management role.   Aimee started her career at Whole Foods, took time off for her family, and was recruited by Roche Bros, a smaller family-owned business.

    2nd Course – Location, Location, Location

    Aimee used her Whole Foods real estate siting experience to help Roche Bros determine a second location for their newest venture, Bros Marketplace.  Using analytics to support her thesis that “mermaids don’t shop,” Aimee guided away from oceanfront locations.   After 24 months of site visits and data analysis, the former Filene’s store in Downtown Crossing was chosen as the best spot to open the next location of Roche Bros.

    Alexis was guided by another philosophy as she figured out the best location for her restaurant. “Sit on a lot of park benches,” she was told.   She did, all over the city. She knew she had to be passionate about the location and find a spot that would add to the heart of the restaurant. Kendall Square had transformed over the years into a vibrant neighborhood with a diverse mix of people. Now her restaurant draws all different types of guests who add to its unique personality.

    3rd Course - Driving traffic

    All the marketing in the world will not counteract a low quality product. When you provide an exceptional customer experience, be it holding the door open for a guest or accommodating a special request, the stories customers tell are worth more than a marketing campaign. Creating the right culture –- or Kool-Aid – will build strong relationships with your employees. They will buy into the story behind your business and empower them to take care of your customers so they keep coming back.

    4th Course – Trends: Leading or Listening?

    Food is a dynamic business. Not only have food preferences changed, but the way we buy food is different as well.  Shirley has young children and loves to cook. Her dilemma: she hates grocery shopping, but wants to feed her family a proper meal. And she’s not alone. This has led to the growing trend towards supermarkets offering prepared or ready to cook food.

    Aimee believes trends are based on where her customers are in their lives. A family of four typically only makes one shopping trip per week for ready to cook or prepared foods that can accommodate everyone’s food preferences and schedules. Empty nesters or singles shop every few days for fresh food.

    Alexis listens to trends. Palettes have become more sophisticated and customers crave exciting food. West Bridge is now famous for the Egg in the Jar appetizer. Although the menu changes every 2-3 months, this is a staple. Alexis also creates trends. If she plans to remove a very popular dish, she’ll use social media to announce the change and entice customers to the restaurant to savor the dish for one last time.

    Dessert – Fun-size servings of advice

    At the end of the meal, um, event, we asked each panelist for some parting words of advice.

    Aimee told us to remember who your real friends and family are. Know whom you can trust and who will be there for you in the long run. She also told us to be fearless and to be true to yourself.

    Shirley wants us to have “our Dick Cheney moment” and raise your hand for a big job. She shared a story of how her boss was looking for a new columnist and asked her to lead the search. He didn’t consider her for the role and neither did anyone else. However, she raised her hand, asked for the job, and got it.

    Alexis offered this advice: repeat every name back to you, every face you see, every hand you shake is important. It was through meeting as many people as she could that led her to the success of her restaurant.

    At our next program, on October 28th, we’ll talk about The Art of Leadership.

    Editor’s note:  Special thank-you to Wendy Berk for writing this summary.

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