Know Your Worth and Fight for It
Imposter syndrome is the feeling that you aren’t capable or competent to be in the role you’re in. And research tells us that women experience this feeling more often than men, and it can hold women in finance back from reaching their goals. Elodie Hadjidakis, guest on episode 7 of the Jenji Talks podcast, says that her imposter syndrome as a woman in finance is her motivation to go and prove her wrong.
Elodie’s career in finance is inspiring to other women who want to work in the industry. Not only does she fight through her imposter syndrome every day, but she is enthusiastic about mentoring others and empower the next generation.
For women in finance to become the norm, Elodie believes there needs to be a cultural shift — a move away hiring women to fill quotas, but to empower them to know their worth and fight for it. Here are some of the key takeaways from our conversation with Elodie on Jenji Talks podcast.
Elodie took, as she calls it, a classical path to finance. She always had a love for numbers and math, so it felt natural to step into finance at business school. From there, she moved into the corporate world, which was also a natural next step. Elodie worked in auditing and then moved to transaction services.
Impressively, Elodie became a CFO at the young age of 27. Today, she is the CFO of Habiteo, a technology company that builds tools for real estate developers. Working in the auditing field — even though it wasn’t as “in” as other areas — gave her a solid financial foundation that helped her become a CFO early on in her career.
Elodie’s parents and family were always supportive of her, encouraging her to pursue her interests. While she acknowledges that not everyone has this kind of support, Elodie credits her family’s encouragement as a big reason she was successful. She never felt that she couldn’t go into finance because she was a woman and didn’t doubt her capabilities — she was encouraged and supported along the way.
For this reason, Elodie believes it’s essential that we support the next generation of women in finance. We need to be that support system for each other, through mentorship, coaching, and friendship.
Women in Finance
We know that there are less women in finance than men. As Elodie reflected on the reason, she admitted that she wasn’t quite sure. After all, women are interested in finance and competent for the job. But there are several factors that contribute to less women in finance, such as the feeling of imposter syndrome, finance and business schools not marketing to women, and cultural norms that prevent women from entering finance.
To change things and have more women in finance, Elodie has a few suggestions:
- Encourage and support the younger generation of women in finance through mentorship or coaching.
- Hire based on competency and skills, not to just meet gender quotas. Being hired simply because you’re a woman can make women feel worse in the role — instead of being recognized for their skills, it can make them feel like they’re being reduced to their gender alone.
- Instead of letting it discourage you from your goals, use imposter syndrome as fuel to learn and grow. Each time you push through and take on a new challenge, it becomes easier and easier to do.
In Elodie’s experience, the problem with a lack of women in finance does not start in business school. Her perspective is that business schools are fairly gender neutral. The problem starts before school, when women feel like finance is “not for them” because of the things mentioned above. For these reasons, it’s important to shift the narrative so that all women feel that they can have a place in finance if they want it.
Try, Try, Try Again
Elodie has a family motto, inherited from her grandfather, which says: “Let them say no.” It applies to both your personal and professional life and encourages you to take chances and go for it!
If you are willing to ask and advocate for what you want, the worst thing that can happen is that they may say no. So, let them say no! This motto helps you see things from a new perspective and be willing to take a chance.
In practice, women in finance need to be willing to advocate for themselves. It starts with knowing your worth and fighting for it. Practically, this looks like:
- Advocating for yourself at work and asking for a raise based on your skills, experience, and competencies.
- Working with a mentor to get help and advice on how to proceed in your career.
- Using imposter syndrome to stay humble and keep pursuing opportunities.
- Asking for what you want in your personal life. The more you practice asking for what you want and need, the easier it becomes!
The reality is that you will never get over the feeling of imposter syndrome, or not feeling ready enough, smart enough, or experienced enough. So, you must set aside those feelings and just go for it instead. Don’t be the person who says “no” to yourself — ask for what you want and be willing to accept a “no” from someone else if it happens.
The Way Forward
Elodie left us with a piece of advice for women in finances starting their career or considering going into the finance industry: your willingness is more important than your experience or competence. If you are willing to learn and grow, you will get far! And working with a mentor will help you figure out the right path to take to boost your career as a woman in finance.
You can listen to Elodie’s full interview on the Jenji Talks podcast. Also, keep up with us on the podcast, where we interview inspiring CFOs and women in finance who are changing the world. Through personal and engaging interviews, we can learn from their advice and discover their vision for women in finance!