Research has shown that as women advance in their careers, they become more risk averse and are less willing to take chances on progressing to new roles. In this sixth and final part in a series of online events celebrating Women in Risk and Control’s first anniversary, RegTech Women Co-Founder and host Lucy Heavens was joined by Caroline Wells, Director at Copy Genie; Livia Benisty, Global Head of Business AML at Banking Circle; Tracy Clarke, Non-Executive Director, Strategic Advisor and Mentor; and Neeta Mundra, Transformation Advisor at Salesforce, to discuss how women can gain the confidence to take more risks and elevate their careers to the next level. 

Here are five key takeaways from the webinar: 

1. Overcoming imposter syndrome 

Imposter syndrome can often hold women back from taking more risks when trying to advance their careers, but it is a feeling that is shared by many people, even those in leadership positions. “I used to get terrible imposter syndrome but one thing that sorted that out was that I had a very senior lady mentoring me in one of my roles and she said that everybody is looking over their shoulder waiting for the moment they’re found out, so if somebody at the top of her tree thinks that—we’re all human,” says Wells. Imposter syndrome can also act as a motivating force giving people the drive to prove that they can do it. 

2. Adopting a growth mindset 

Failures can sometimes cause people to lose faith in their abilities, but they should be viewed as an opportunity to understand and come back stronger. “I like to call them learnings as opposed to failures and I’ve had many learnings where things haven’t actually gone to plan,” says Clarke. “So I ask why? What is it that contributed to that, how do we diagnose what happened in a way that means next time it will be absolutely shoot-the-lights-out.” Learning from others—even those who are poor role models—can help develop your career. “I had a mentor who said you learn as much from bad managers as you do from good managers, so have a really deep think about the type of leader and manager you want to be and the things that haven’t worked for you,” Clarke says. Having a growth mindset also helps you to evolve by making you more aware of the areas that you need to work on and how to bridge those gaps, says Mundra.  

3. Stay true to yourself 

When Clarke was promoted to Standard Chartered’s Executive Committee while still in her 30s, she questioned whether she deserved to be there. She soon realised, however, that the key to fitting in is to just be authentic. “That is what got me to that position, so trying to be something else and pretending somehow I wasn’t really me, that wasn’t going to work,” she says. Finding your purpose and staying true to that is also helpful when considering new roles. “It needs to be aligned to what defines you,” says Mundra. “What is your purpose and what are your values and principles?” It is important, too, to be flexible in what defines you, says Benisty. “It’s true you have to stay true to your purpose and know yourself, but we need to allow that to evolve because that can change and that’s ok,” she says. 

4. You don’t need all the answers 

Some women may be put off applying for jobs if they don’t have all the necessary skills or if there are gaps in their knowledge. An important lesson, says Clarke, is that people don’t expect you to have all the answers to everything. “You’re never going to be the finished article because jobs are changing so much and there’s always so much to do and so much to learn,” she says. There is, however, a knack to showing that you don’t have all the answers without coming across as dumb, says Benisty. If you ask someone to explain something to you in very basic terms, that can make them doubt your ability, she says. “Better to say this is not my strong suit right now, here’s what I understand, what else do I need to know? So there’s a way to show that vulnerability without playing yourself down,” Benisty says. 

5. Find your champions 

Having a support network that can help boost your confidence so that you are more likely to take a leap of faith in your career is essential. That network can include mentors, coaches, sponsors or even micro-mentors, all of whom have different purposes. “As you build your career journey you need to think about all of these aspects, not just mentoring,” says Mundra. “At this stage of my career, I find that micro-mentoring helps me a lot more, especially to fill the gaps that I don’t know and to learn something specific.” While mentors can help develop your skills, it is champions and sponsors that can really propel your career to the next level. “It’s the champions that really make the difference—they are the people who are your guardian angels who are watching out for you as you progress through your career,” says Wells. 

Click here to watch the webinar.

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