Becoming a successful leader in business isn’t simply a matter of how smart you are, an investment executive told a group of Fordham University alumni and students last week.
“Knowledge is only one part of the equation,” Laura Roche, BS ’92, the CFO and COO of Roystone Capital, said during her keynote address at the 17th annual Fordham Women in Business Conference, held at the Bohemian National Hall on 73rd Street on Oct. 29.
“Leadership is an inside job,” Roche said.
What does she mean? That leadership comes from within oneself. People have to be their own advocates. Roche advised women not to care about whether or not others like them. One cannot be an effective leader if she is constantly worried about others’ opinions, she said.
One attendee asked Roche how to go about asking for help without looking incompetent. Be honest and sincere, Roche advised.
“Find the person who knows the right answer and ask for help,” she said. “Admitting you don’t know something is always better than pretending that you do.”
Roche, along with various panelists during a panel discussion and Q&A, shared their stories and advice to succeed in the business world.
The panelists were: Tiara Chatterjee, head of finance and operations at Rock Shrimp Productions; Ida Liu, head of Asian Clients Group, Citibank; Faye Tennenbaum, partner at Deloitte; and Emily Weinstein, senior editor at The New York Times. The panel was moderated by Associate Professor Sertan Kabadayi, the area chair of marketing at the Gabelli School of Business.
Each panelist gave one piece of advice for women in business school:
- Be opportunity-oriented, not excuse-oriented.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses.
- Be bold. Distinguish yourself and be constructive.
- Be flexible.
- Trust your intuition.
They also advised the attendees to look at colleagues as peers instead of competitors. Be authentic – take what your mentors say and make it specific to you, they said. You should have three different levels of mentor relationships: senior, peer and junior. Sponsors are equally as important.
The panel also discussed the difficulty of asking for a raise and negotiating salaries. They suggested doing a self SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to demonstrate your progress and accessing the metrics of what you contribute to the company. Show how you make others’ lives easier. Advocate for yourself and ask for what you want.
In addition to Roche, two of the other panelists were Fordham alumni: Faye Tannenbaum, MST ’90, and Tiara Chatterjee, MBA ’11. They said Fordham’s unique program, ability to connect with colleagues, and education of integrity and ethics have contributed to their career success.
Rachel Yan, BS ’18, was one of the six undergraduates who attended the event.
“My biggest takeaway was reaffirming the fact that I cannot be an effective leader, especially as a woman, if I am constantly looking for others’ approval,” Yan said. “It’s essential for women to see each other as peers in the workforce, as opposed to competition. That way we can promote gender equality and lead the way for other women in our fields.”