There are more Canadian women in the workforce than ever before, and things are trending in the right direction, thanks to the growing number of women achieving more prominent roles in their industries. Many of them are also eager to offer advice or mentor younger women who want to continue to advance and succeed.
With that in mind, we asked four successful women for the career and financial advice they would give to their younger selves. Mentorship, positive thinking, risk taking and making use of compound investing are just some of their tips. Here’s what they said, in their own words.
Work hard, and invest now
Camilla Sutton, President and CEO, Women in Capital Markets, an organization that supports women in the capital markets industry
In my 20s, I was eager to succeed, learning everything I could and delivering at work. If I could give myself a piece of advice, it would be to do all the course work, and deliver at work, but slow down long enough to seek out the advice of mentors. I knew that executives had a wealth of knowledge on career paths, corporate culture and success; I just didn’t fully recognize that they would be excited to share it with those coming up the ranks. Seek out mentors, coffee chats and job shadowing opportunities across the industry.
When it comes to finance, the best advice is to start saving and investing immediately. As soon as your paycheque lands in your bank account, move 10% or 20% automatically into an investment account. The power of starting early and compounding interest is real and can put you in a great position for the rest of your life.
Take risks, and enjoy compound investing
Candice Faktor, tech entrepreneur and Managing Partner at Faktory Ventures, a Toronto-based venture capital company
Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks, as you have less to lose and a lot more to gain early in your career in the areas of skill development, emotional resilience and financial upside. Also, challenge yourself to be the best version of you – not for others, but for yourself – and get out of your own way. Live and make decisions in alignment with your values, and surround yourself with good humans who enrich your life and learning, so that you can enjoy the journey, not only the expected results.
On finance, as the saying goes, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it.”
Find allies, and cheer other women on
Nicole Connolly, Head of ESG Investing at Fidelity and portfolio manager of Fidelity Women’s Leadership Fund
I’ve been a runner most of my life, and what I love about running is that you have this number – or this time – that tells you after every race how you’ve performed. When I thought about a career, I wanted to keep competing in this way. Running is like investing: it doesn’t matter what you look like or what your background is; if you put up good stock-picking results (just like if you put up a fast time on the track), you will succeed. I liked the measurability of that, and for those reasons I think a career in investing is a great choice for women.
In terms of where to do that work, you want to find an organization that is hitting diversity and inclusion head on, and where there are women you can learn from as well as be inspired by. Surround yourself with women who will pick you up when you make mistakes and cheer your every success. It’s also helpful to seek out male allies. When I was on maternity leave with my twins, my boss at the time came by with his 12-year-old son to give not only the twins baby presents but my other two kids as well. My boss walked into a house with four kids who were three and under – now that was brave! It’s these types of gestures that make Fidelity a wonderful community and a place I hope to spend another 20 years.
Think positively, and always invest
Sarah Hall, 2019 Order of Canada recipient and founder of Sarah Hall Studio, which creates large glass installations
Build connections and mentors. Don’t be afraid to ask important people in your field if they can help you; even if they say no, it’s not really a loss – they might remember you later on. You have to develop a belief in yourself that it’s OK, that it isn’t the end of the world when someone says no. Also, don’t engage in negative thinking. I’m still trying to dispel it from my life today. A lot of people can get into ruts of negative thinking, and I think it happens more for women who want to be very successful. They second-guess themselves or what other people are thinking. Most of the time people aren’t even thinking about you.
When it comes to finances, it’s important to put as much money as you can into some kind of investment. That’s something I did – as soon as I got money, I would put it into an investment account. Sometimes I put more in than other times, depending on what was happening, but I would make sure I had enough to live on and then I’d invest.