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  • 19 May 2014 9:31 PM | Deleted user

    Networking isn't just about collecting business cards or adding LinkedIn contacts. Rather, successful networking means establishing meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships.  These relationships can then help you find a new role, fill a position and/or tackle a business challenge.  So said our panel of business leaders at the May program of Boston Women in Finance, led by moderator Donna Walsh, Financial Advisor, AXA Advisors.

    Start Making Connections Now   Joyce Bell, CFO, Nexage, explained that early in her career she did not take the time to have a cup of coffee or meet with someone interested in an informational interview.  Rather, “I was heads down, focused on deliverables.” Following the sale of her employer, however, she found herself without the necessary relationships to help jumpstart her job search. This convinced her of the importance of cultivating a network regardless of any immediate needs.


    Think of Networking as Connecting to What’s Possible  “ You should not dread  networking as something to be done with a specific goal and on a pre-determined timetable,” said Victoria Nessen Kohlasch, Founder and President, NK&J.  She advised the audience to consider networking as an opportunity to be curious – to broaden your understanding of people and industry. 

    Use Social Media to Maintain Relationships  LinkedIn, Newsle and other services allow you to keep an eye on what your connections are doing.   Send a congratulatory note when someone has a job anniversary, or pass along a news article that would be of interest. These small, ongoing outreaches can strengthen your connections.

    Use Your Contacts’ Time Wisely    Roberta Zysman, CEO, Dedham Medical Associates, reminded attendees to be considerate of their contact’s time.  “We are always happy to help you make decisions about your next move,” she counseled, “But we need you to help us with some basic research on areas that you think might be of interest.” 

    Make Sure you Follow Up  All three panelists agreed that follow-up is critical.  If you say you are going to send something or contact someone, make sure you do it.  Joyce recounted a story of a candidate who she referred to someone else, but that candidate did not reach out in a timely manner.  By the time the outreach was made, the introduction had gone cold.


    Follow-up Also Means Closing the Loop 
    “Let us know how the story ends,” said Victoria, echoing the request by the other panelists.  "We are always happy to help," said Roberta, "In return, let us know how things worked out."  So make sure you connect back with your network when you land the new job, fill the position or succeed with the new assignment.
  • 14 Apr 2014 2:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
     

    Our April 2014 speakers, from left to right: Macken Toussaint, Nancy Steager, Gayle Cameron and Elizabeth Butler

    Regardless of sector, industry or profession, your professional success lies in your ability to persuade, negotiate and collaborate with individuals and teams toward mutual gain. 

    In April 2014, Boston Women in Finance presented “Getting To Yes: The Art of Persuasion, Negotiation and Collaboration,” where our expert panel included Hon. Elizabeth Butler (retired), JAMS Dispute Resolution Mediator, Gayle Cameron, Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner and Nancy Stager, EVP, Human Resources and Charitable Giving, Eastern Bank. 

     

    We learned:

     

    The Importance of Culture

    • Understand the culture: Before getting to yes, you must first understand the culture in which you’re working. This includes knowing who makes the decisions, whose favor you must first win in order to persuade their spheres of influence, and even how you go about getting to yes. For example, one panelist shared that there was always a ‘meeting before the meeting,’ where the final decision was made.
    • Know Which Tool To Use: As one panelist stated, “When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. But not every job requires a hammer.” In getting to yes, the context of the decision is key. By first understanding perspectives of all the parties involved, you’ll be more successful in selecting a set of tactics that will sway your audience.
    • Be Present: Most importantly, getting to yes means being fully engaged in the process. From doing your homework to being fully present, actively listening during discussions to building value in the relationships you develop, you will fare better and show your passion by being fully present.

    Understand the Context

    • Be Cautious In How You Use Relationships: While some negotiations benefit from using key relationships, others can be damaged beyond repair. Before pulling in your influential relationships, take a moment to consider the perspective of the other parties involved, and whether this tactic may sway them or turn them off.
    • Chip Away For Faster Results: Sometimes, the bigger fights just can’t be won. In this case, the panel encouraged attendees to ‘chip away,’ or offer alternatives that are smaller steps to your larger victory. This strategy can be just as effective as one big win, and can sometimes work in your favor by acclimating the other party to your intended change.
    • When In Doubt, Stop Doubting: A clear message shared by our panel was to encourage our attendees to never question the leverage that they have. Many women feel that they have little to no leverage in negotiations, when in fact they are often the more powerful party.

    On Utilizing Communication Skills

    • Don’t Railroad Just To Be Right: As one panelist stated “Being right is insufficient to being effective.” If you have the upper hand in your negotiation, don’t railroad it. If you do so, you run the risk of damaging relationships, which may prevent you from winning in the future.
    • Keep It Positive: The short-term advantage of  a “win” will be lost if there are long-term resentments.  Therefore, keep your negotiations positive by using positive language and approach each discussion with constructive communications.

    Final Takeaways

    • Prepare, listen reflectively, and engage fully with your audiences
    • Understand the context, communicate effectively, and find common ground
    • Never underestimate the importance of credibility and likeability, internalize the culture and context, and nurture your relationships

    Our next program, “Networking For Results,” is on May 8, 2014. For more information on this program, please click here.
  • 24 Mar 2014 6:01 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
     

    Pictured left to right: Mary Bucci, Partner, Finance, Brown Rudnick, and Katie Manty, Director, Online Marketing and Analytics, Fidelity. A special thanks to Brown Rudnick for graciously hosting our event!

    The language of analytics is very appealing to our fact-based culture, but some metrics are simply not to be counted on.  Boston Women in Finance's March program, led by speaker  Katie Manty, Director, Online Marketing and Analytics, Fidelity, provided insights into being savvy with data.  She noted, “Data can be convenient and comforting, but it’s important that you be curious and questioning about what the numbers are telling you.”

    Katie gave us four questions to ask when presented with analytics:

    • What is the motive of the person/organization presenting the data?
    • What is in the numerator?  How has the sample been selected that is being tested, surveyed, measured or monitored?
    • What is the denominator?  How has the overall population been defined?
    • How is the data being presented?  Is it a pie chart, bar graph or trend line?  What is the scale on the vertical axis?

    For motive, consider that everyone has a purpose in presenting information.  They want to make their “business case” so that their cause will be rewarded.  For example, when the CDC reports an increase in the number of flu deaths in North Carolina, it’s important to remember that the CDC, like every other federal agency, is always interested in increasing their visibility and funding.  The context of the number is also important.  In this particular example, the total population of North Carolina had also increased during that time period so the increase in flu deaths may have simply been a result of larger numbers.

    The second question to ask when presented with a percentage, “what is the sample set,” in other words, what makes up the numerator?  In her role analyzing chat center data, she has to be careful not to use only the data around weekend chats, or only weekday interactions.  Rather, a sampling of both is important to come to conclusions about all client interactions.

    Just as important as the sample set is the overall population.  Here she pointed out that as we spend more time analyzing non-structured data, i.e. language and words, it is critical to understand not only what has been included, but also what has been omitted.  For example, if you are using a “word cloud” to analyze conversations, somewhere in the initial identification someone had to indicate which phrases would be included.  If no one checked the box to include the word “fees,” it is possible an analysis would lead to a conclusion that costs are unimportant.

    Last, Katie advised that we make careful note of the way in which the data is presented.  A common misrepresentation is to stretch the vertical axis so a small change in absolute value can look like a steeply sloped  change.  Katie also cautioned those who produce charts not to over-complicate the presentation.  She advised, “Just because you took the time to learn the double axis trend-line overlay, doesn’t mean you should use it.”

    Remember: the goal of analytics is to produce and interpret useful information.  Be mindful of tripwires such as built-in bias, non-random samples and misrepresentative conclusions so you can better interpret and judge the validity of analytics. 

    Join Our Next Program!

    Join us on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, as we present "Getting To Yes: The Art of Negotiation, Persuasion and Collaboration," where our panel of arbitrators, HR experts and state officials will discuss their best practices to motive their team toward positive outcomes. 

    Registration is open now - click here to get your ticket!


    - Posted by Beth Kurth, President, Boston Women in Finance

  • 04 Mar 2014 12:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Our panelists included (left to right) Jackie Barry Hamilton, CFO, Intronis; Donna LaVoie, President & CEO, LaVoie Group; and Jennifer Gridley, Director, Market Intelligence, athenahealth

    For our February program, Boston Women in Finance hosted “The Habits of Highly Successful Finance Executives,“ which explored the characteristics and qualities of high achieving financial executives.

    We learned:

    On Setting Your Path

    While their early paths to a career in finance were sometimes luck and sometimes planning, the panel agreed that ultimately the responsibility for their choices rested on them as individuals. The panel encouraged attendees to take control of the planning process in their careers, and to proactively identify the roles, responsibilities and opportunities they wanted to work toward.

    On The Value of Networking

    Not enough can be said about the critical importance of networking.  Whether your networking is internal or external, the investment that you make in building productive and positive relationships with other professionals can only help to lay the foundation for a successful career.

    The panel encouraged attendees to network deliberately, consciously and often.  For example, one panelist communicates with internal committee heads at least once a quarter, not only to ensure  they are aligned in their efforts on behalf of the company, but also to keep their network energized.  Another  panelist described how she cold calls professionals in her field for best practices and advice in helping to advance her initiatives.

    On Saying Yes

    “Does being successful always mean saying yes?”  The panelists answered with a judicious “yes.”  

    Ultimately, the panel agreed that it’s in your best interest to try to say yes, which means being discerning about the tasks at hand, and prioritizing the work you need to do. The panel also encouraged attendees to say yes to new opportunities that  get you out of your comfort zone and play on your strengths.

    Of course, there will be times that you have to say yes when it’s not convenient for you. For example, many of us know that business issues and crises hardly ever occur during the normal workday. Rather, they choose to pop up on weekends away or late at night.

    In these cases, it’s best to demonstrate flexibility and reliability by being available, responsive and willing to roll up your sleeves to get the work done.

    Parting Advice

    When asked if they had any parting advice to share with our attendees, our panelists answered:

    • Be resilient, as everything takes time.
    • Think progress, not perfection, when it comes to your work.
    • Don’t be afraid to hire people smarter than you.

    And most importantly for financial executives – your integrity is your calling card, and it will be challenged. Never, ever compromise your integrity, or you will never be able to escape it.

    Talk Back

    Do you have a question that wasn’t answered by our panelists, or perhaps advice to share on building a healthy career in finance? Share it in the comments today!

    Register For Our Next Program!

    Join us for our next event on Friday, March 21, 2014, on “Unveiling Analytics: The Mean, The Median and The Motive,” where we’ll learn how to evaluate data with a critical eye.

    Registration is open - click here to get started!

  • 06 Feb 2014 2:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Boston Women in Finance, a leading professional organization of women in the financial sector and finance function, is pleased to introduce this year’s Board, including:

    Beth Kurth, President
    Beth Kurth, President, Boston Women in FinanceBeth Kurth is the principal of the Corporate Forum, bridging the gap between publicly traded companies and retail investors. Beth is a long-time public relations and investor relations professional, including roles as Investor Relations Director, Pegasystems; Vice President/Regional Director, Financial Relations Board; and Public Information Officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She is a graduate of Tulane University in New Orleans and received her MBA from Boston University.  This is her second term as president of Boston Women in Finance. 

     

    Donna Walsh, Treasurer
    Donna WalshDonna Walsh is a Financial Professional with Highland Financial Group in Wellesley. She joined the Group in 2013 prior to that she was an Advisor with Merrill Lynch. She has been in the Financial Services Industry for 6 years helping professionals, families and business owners with their investment strategies and financial, estate and retirement planning solutions. Donna was also Treasurer for Cumberland Farms/Gulf for over 15 years handling the company's investments, budgeting, cash management and lending requirements. Donna graduated from Suffolk University with a MBA and a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. She received the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor designation. Donna is an active member of the Norfolk & Plymouth Estate Business Council, Neponset Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Franklin Country Club. 

     

    Macken Toussaint, Clerk
    Macken ToussaintMacken Toussaint is a business and commercial law attorney. She represents debtors, creditors, lenders, and investors in bankruptcy proceedings and corporate restructuring transactions. She also represents lending institutions and borrowers in the structuring, negotiation and documentation of debtor-in-possession financing, asset-based transactions, and other financing facilities. Macken obtained her B.A., magna cum laude, in political science at Northeastern University, attended Northeastern University School of Law for her J.D., and received her MBA from Suffolk University.  She is an associate attorney in the Boston office of  Riemer & Braunstein LLP. 

     

    Becky Blackler, Communications Chair
    Becky BlacklerBecky Blackler is the Executive Director of The CFO RoundTable, considered the premier CFO education and networking group on the East Coast. Blackler has served in various positions with The CFO RoundTable since 2009, including Marketing Chair, and has helped to double its membership size, institute its affiliate partnership program, establish new chapters in Boston and NYC, as well as produce its highly-acclaimed annual CFO conferences. Blackler earned her B.A. in Public Relations from The Pennsylvania State University. She currently lives in Taunton MA with her husband, two children, two cats, and one very lucky hamster.

     

    Araceli Rios, Membership Chair
    Cheli RiosAraceli (Cheli) Rios, CPA joined the IRS in 2007 as a Revenue Agent in the Large Business & International (LB&I) Division. Ms. Rios has held a wide range of public accounting/auditing and leadership positions, including FDIC Settlement Manager, managing 25 Bank Receiverships, BDO Seidman & KPMG - Accounting & Assurance services, Archdiocese of Boston during reconfiguration (Reorganization of the Archdiocese). Ms. Rios graduated cum laude with a BA in Accountancy from Bentley University and was also a member of the Bentley Honor Society. Ms. Rios was inducted into the Accounting Honors Fraternity (Beta Alpha Psi) and the Business Honors Fraternity (Beta Gamma Sigma) at Bentley University. Ms. Rios is a lifetime member of the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance & Accounting (ALPFA) and joined the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) in February 2011. In addition, Ms. Rios is President of the IRS CPA Association and serves on the Board of the MS Cure Fund, a non-profit organization. Ms. Rios was recently promoted as a Senior Program Analyst for the IRS' Online Services Division. 

     

    Our new board looks forward to welcoming members and friends to our February upcoming program, “The Habits of Highly Effective Financial Executives.” The event is sold out, but stay tuned for a recap of the program to be posted on this blog!

     

    New to Boston Women in Finance? We look forward to seeing you at our upcoming programs which include current events, financial issues and workplace topics.   

  • 13 Jan 2014 2:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Boston Women in Finance January 2013 SpeakersOn Wednesday, January 8, 2014, Boston Women in Finance gathered members and friends for “Curation: The Art of Selection, Collection and Organization of Information.” Our speakers included:

    • Natasha Espada, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Associate Principal, Leers Weinzapfel
    • Amanda Garces, Senior Interactive Producer, Genuine Interactive
    • Veronica Martzahl, Electronic Records Achivist, Massachusetts State Archives

    We learned:

    Generations Treat Information Differently
    The panel agreed that there is a generational divide in how information is managed. For example, older generations may ‘hoard’ information, printing out emails, saving multiple versions of files from projects long completed, etc., while younger generations can delete the information almost instantaneously.

    This bifurcated approach is easily overcome through clear information management policies.

    Keeping Information Too Long Can Hurt You
    While there is certain information that you are required to keep on hand for a specified amount of time (i.e. business filings, contracts), there are other pieces of information that may in fact hurt you in the long run.

    For example, in the case of civil litigation or government investigations, any information that was exchanged in electronic format, such as emails, are included in electronic discovery requests. Therefore, what your ‘hoarder’ employees have been keeping on file for years may in fact harm you in the long run.

    KISS Organization Methods
    We’ve all been there – what was once a clearly organized and sensible electronic filing system no longer makes sense to anyone.

    The panel advised to keep your organization simple, including clear file naming conventions, easy folder architectures, and if you have a content management system (CMS), easy-to-understand tagging practices that can help your information be found quickly and easily.

    Technology Is Not Forever
    Just as paper degrades and decays, so too does technology.

    The panel advised that if you are storing your information digitally, to be sure to continually upgrade your file formats and practices to the newest ones available. After all, the Excel version you used to create your spreadsheet may not be available or workable in 5-10 years.

    Further, know that the media that you store your information on, such as CDs, have a shelf life too. (Anyone remember floppy disks?) Ideally, you should have your information backed up on multiple media types, including CD, hard drives (stored offsite, of course), and even in the cloud.

    If storing information digitally, be sure to continually upgrade your file formats and practices to the newest ones available. Pay attention to what media you have, and whether or not it will last. For example, even CDs will degrade after 7 years of initial use.

    Register For Our Next Program!

    Join us for our next event on Thursday, February 13, 2014, on “The Habits of Highly Successful Financial Executives,” where we will explore the technical requirements, character essentials and skill sets necessary of high achieving financial executives.

    To learn more, or to register, simply click the button below!

    Eventbrite - The Habits of Highly Successful Financial Executives

     

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