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Learnings from CIMA women in financial leadership conference

Learnings from CIMA women in financial leadership conference


Last Friday I spent the day supporting the first CIMA women in financial leadership conference.

It was such an inspirational and energising day that left many asking when the next one will be.

Something that was appreciated was the array of speakers from varying socio-economic backgrounds and industry experience.

This included a keynote speech from the mother of 9, CEO of investment fund and founder of the 30% club, an organisation that is passionate and committed to seeing more women on boards. The mother referred to, is of course Helena Morrisey. Other speakers included Sandra Green of Handbags in the boardrooms, Vanessa Vallely founder of a professional women’s portal called ‘We are the city’, and Dianah Worman OBE.

A range of themes were covered and ranged from building effective networks to breaking through the glass ceiling.

I thought it would be great to share with you a few of the nuggets from the women in financial leadership conference, which could help you advance your career and/or business.



Say yes
An observation noted by Helena Morrisey is that there are a lot of women who talk or think ourselves out of promotional opportunities long before the chance has been presented to us. A common reason cited is because we don’t believe we will be able to juggle this alongside family commitments, whether that is juggling kids or sick/elderly parents or maintaining the work life balance we desire.

The solution proposed:
Be ready to make the most of opportunities that present themselves. Say yes more often, and have trust that you will be resourceful enough to find the solutions should and when the challenges arise. This mindset would position us to be in a stronger position to leverage opportunities as they arise.

I would add to this – wellbeing.

In other words if you are already in the position whereby you find yourself saying yes, maybe a little too often, then the focus arguably could be on practising ‘saying no’ or alternatively focusing the saying yes to strategically relevant opportunities, in alignment to your mid to long term career goals.



As mentioned earlier, the 30% club are passionate about getting more women on boards, the specific target being 30%. When the journey started over 7 years ago, it wasn’t an idea that was met with open arms, and in fact convincing mainly male Chairmen of FTSE 100 companies in the beginning was a bit of a steep climb. It was deemed to be a problem for women to solve. Of course in this case the challenge was that most of the people in power, the highest leadership positions were men.

In spite of this, with steady persistence, getting buy-in for this target steadily increased over a period of time. With this persistence, as well as it becoming an item on the Government agenda, we now have 26% of women on boards of FTSE 100 companies, up from 12%.



3 types of networks
Vanessa Vallely drew distinctions between 3 types of networking.
Operational network: This relates to the people within your network that help you get your job done.

Personal network: These are the people that help you develop your leadership and functional skills.

The 3rd one and the one most people in the room didn’t seem to have as strong and thus an opportunity for growth was referred to as your strategic network. Building your network based on market trends identified thus beneficial today and tomorrow.

For more insights and invaluable tips, check out Judy Robinetts’ book ‘How to be a power connector’.
It will help you identify what opportunities there are for you to improve and strengthen your network.



The Imposter Syndrome
This is a common challenge faced most notably by women. That feeling that ‘I am not quite good enough’ or ‘I don’t deserve this job’. Research seems to show that whilst a woman will wait until she has practically ticked all of the boxes on the job specification, her male counterpart that barely meets half the requirements would put himself forward for the role.

Vanessa Vallely, founder of we are the city shared her take on identifying whether you have the imposter syndrome in the following traits below:
– Thinking you are about to be found out
– Not taking credit for your work
– Elevating others ahead of yourself
– Down playing your achievements
– Questioning your ability


The solutions presented:
Believe in yourself and your capabilities
Stop comparing.

For practical solutions, check out one of my older videos on ‘how to stop comparing yourself to others’.

What opportunities and action points lay ahead for you to leverage and implement?

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