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Women in Finance: Driving Connection and Productivity Through Uncertainty

This article first appeared on the OneStream Blog by Jaclyn Proctor

As we near 2022, uncertainty remains a steady theme for the year ahead. Finance leaders are looking to become more strategic with decision making and planning to get ahead of the uncertainty. While also driving connectivity among teams through a hybrid work environment. In OneStream’s third Women in Finance webinar, we discussed how women in finance can empower one another to serve as leaders to drive connections.

Moderated by Pam McIntyre, Corporate Controller at OneStream, the webinar featured a panel of three innovative leaders across various industries. The panelists include Moonsun Park, CFO at Sharp Electronics; Beth Elwell, VP of Financial Planning & Analysis at Trane Technologies; and Amy Corbin, CFO at Surescripts. Below are highlights from the panel discussion, including the importance of connection and driving productivity through flexibility.

Creating Lasting Connections in a Remote Environment

The Women in Finance webinar kicked off with questions on the importance of mentorship and making connections in today’s hybrid work environment.

Moonsun Park highlighted the importance of mentorship and having an advocate in the development of her career. She credits her mentor as a sounding board for her both professionally and personally.

Beth Elwell discussed the importance of connecting with individuals outside of your job function. Her mentor was a leader within her organization outside of finance. Elwell explained how her mentor served as an incredible resource and friend in her career. “Business partnership is so important. Just because someone isn’t in your function doesn’t mean they’re not going to help you in your career. You never know what door they’re going to open,” said Elwell.

Amy Corbin encouraged listeners to think of mentors as influencers. “Sometimes you need someone to connect you with someone else in your organization or within the community,” she said. “Look through the lens of who is connecting you and who is influencing you.”

Empowering Women in Finance

The panelists provide a piece of advice they have for women aiming for the top of their careers, while facing the challenge of an environment where access to leaders is more restricted.

Corbin encouraged women in finance to reduce reliance on talking purely about numbers. Instead, turn it into a business conversation. “To go far in your career, make yourself relevant to the business in the business’s language. Stakeholders are looking for a business partner, not a numbers person,” she said.

Focusing on connectivity, Elwell recommends that women build relationships across team members, managers, customers, and mentors. To build these connections in a hybrid work environment, Elwell said “Don’t underestimate the power of video. Communicating through video allows people to be more engaged in the conversation, creating more powerful and lasting connections.”

Park added to Elwell’s perspective, “Be visible and be present as much as possible.”

Beating Burnout Through Flexibility

The panelists discuss how they balance the demand of work with the flexibility to prevent burnout. Park encourages her teams to take time off and to focus on delivering the quality of work versus the quantity. She credits OneStream’s unified and scalable CPM technology as “a huge benefit in terms of time savings.” Park believes turning manual processes into more automated ones has enabled her team to do more value-added activities as business partners.

“The key to this balance is prioritization,” adds Elwell. She advised teams to focus on understanding what the customer needs in terms of data when they need it. “It’s important to understand dependency and making sure management reporting is streamlined as much as possible to eliminate waste,” she said.

Corbin shared the importance of remaining flexible in meeting stakeholders where they are. “It’s about setting realistic timeframes and being realistic about turnaround,” she said. Corbin also emphasized the importance of being open to change. “It’s ok to try something new, possibly make a mistake and try again.”

Advocating for Yourself and Empowering the Next Generation

The conversation then focused on best tips for how women can advocate for themselves, while also considering the next generation of women. Corbin advises that “It starts with making yourself invaluable to an area of business and being known for some area of expertise.” She also urges listeners to take any and every volunteer opportunity to try something new and to be willing to take a risk.

Empower you teams to share their ideas, accomplishments, and the work they’re doing to help with driving connectivity. Elwell adds, “Diversity is top of mind for companies right now, so opportunities are more abundant than ever before – but we have to make the opportunities continue to be abundant.” She also encouraged leaders to act as role models for younger generations. “As leaders, we should create safe environments for people to take risks,” she said.

Park recommended that women reach out to leaders within the organization. She adds, “If we don’t know you, we won’t have visibility into what you do unless you make that conscious effort.” She also leverages her position within the company to bring people into meetings while sharing individuals’ accomplishments to the rest of the company.

Learn More and Get Involved

To hear the full Women in Finance discussion, check out the full webinar replay. Continue the conversation and stay connected with the Women in Finance community by joining our new LinkedIn group and stay up to date on future events.