Moya. Career Obstacles, Difficulties and Road Blocks

posted October 21st, 2010 by Janet Graham - One Comment

I asked Moya to tell me about her career in terms of the major obstacles, difficulties, and road blocks she had faced, what she did when she faced them, where she turned for support and what she learned from those experiences. 


Moya said: “I think my biggest obstacle has been fear.  Fear that I couldn’t do something.  Fear that people had the wrong view of me. Fear that somehow I couldn’t do it and would let people down and I’d let myself down and I’d go and take on more than I could realistically chew.  So that was an obstacle for sure and I think that’s still there.  When I take on something new, there’s that period when before you’ve got your arms around it and you feel like you’ve broken the back of it, there’s that fear that impels you to just speak to as many people as you can and read as much as you can and madly try to absorb it as fast as you can and try to get the history of it and understand the potential of it at the same time and get the right people around you, people that you can trust, all of that to try to bring the temperature down, the internal temperature down.  So I think for me the biggest obstacle that I have had and why it is still an obstacle is because it’s caused me to think about things way longer than I should have before I take them on.  It’s actually caused me to miss opportunities that I should have taken on because I got myself into a mind set where I felt, I know that that’s a person that I can trust and I know that that person has never ever steered me in the wrong direction ever, ever, and I’ve known that person for such a long time but I just don’t feel like I can do that.  So fear has been a major obstacle for me.” 


Moya says another obstacle is not having the classic or traditional background for stuff that she has done.  She says entering the financial services industry was a huge thing for her. She did not come up through the ranks which is hard enough for a woman in the financial services industry and she did not come as the gold medallist from a prestigious business school and she did not come with this huge entrepreneurship track record behind her and she did not come with an intrinsic understanding of finance and how money makes the world go round.  She says: “I’m not coming with any of those things.  I’m coming from where?  I’m coming from the federal public service for God’s sake where, you know, there’s probably two people in the federal public service that have actually ever raised money, right, that’s just not something that they worry about. In fact, the cost of money to the government is known as the risk-free rate.  So it was very hard.  I didn’t even know what I didn’t know but at the same time there were people telling me, yes, you can do this and we are going to structure this to make sure that you are successful because we don’t want you to fail. In the end, I trusted those people and they are some of my closest friends to this day. I mean, this is many, many years later and they are some of my closest friends.  One of these individuals in particular is another person I do not do anything without talking to him first.  I ask him what he thinks.  He’s encouraging because he knows me so well and what he knows about me now is that I’m looking for him to give me the green light to help me to overcome my fears which is what he did for me all those many years ago.”


Moya says fear was a big thing for her and it caused her to waste all kinds of energy and at the same time, it meant she was never able to relax in the job. She says it became an obstacle in some areas. However, she says: “There’s that other part of me that I’m able to trust.  I’m really able to trust people that are in my camp and I’m really lucky.  I’ve had great, great people in my camp.”


Moya says the biggest leap she ever took in her career and “I took a lot of leaps in my career, but the biggest leap was from the security of the federal public service to the private sector. I was very senior in the federal public service and very highly regarded because I had built up a track record of being able to do things, big things and I had a network and a career history. Making the leap to the private sector and not just anywhere in the private sector, the financial services sector, where you have a top line that you have to meet and everybody in that sector has a huge opportunity cost which is to say if they’re working on your deal they’re not working on somebody else’s deal.  They need to feel confident that your deal’s going to come through for them because they can’t get back that time and their compensation, and in our case it was 90% of our compensation, is performance based and so if you don’t make those numbers you were constantly being whittled out.  That was the biggest risk that I ever took and I had a huge amount of fear but at the same time I had a lot of trust and I had trust that was properly placed.  I had great partners. They were great, great partners and they are friends to this day and the people at the bank I joined wanted me to succeed and I can think of all of them and they are still friends to this day.  They wanted me to succeed and I could feel that they were rooting for me.  They didn’t want me to be taken down, they wanted me to be successful and so that side of me and their support helped me to overcome the fear.”


Moya believes fear is a big obstacle for people.  She says it keeps them in ruts, it prevents them from growing, and it prevents them from moving. She says the best thing that a leader can do is establish the trust that allows their people to go forward. She says in her first experience in the financial services sector there were a lot of people that had that gift.  She says: “They definitely did.  And I had some low times when we lost deals that we should have won that we had worked on and sometimes we structured the deal to make it possible and travelled all over the world in support of it and papered the deal and raised every dime, five different tiers of capital, the best equity in the world and, you know, didn’t win the deal.  And you knew that you were not wrong to place your trust in your partners because they were still there for you after things like that. They were still there, even though for me it was so hard because I was the leader of the deal team.” 


Moya says: “I think the worst obstacle for anybody is fear and it’s the worst because it forces you into your comfort zone and if you’re in your comfort zone you don’t grow and you don’t develop.” She says overcoming the fear is all about trusting the people that are standing behind you and believing in you and wanting you to be successful. She says these people are still magic in her life many, many years later.  “They’re all magic in my life.  I do not do a single thing without speaking to them.”



What Strikes Me?


Fear can be a major obstacle which holds us back from taking on new opportunities and trying new things.


Staying in our comfort zones means we don’t grow and we don’t develop.


It only takes the support of one person to have a significant impact on your career and your life.


It is great when we have good people in our camp.


Great leaders establish trust which allows their people to move forward and grow.


Great partners are hugely valuable.


Having people standing behind you, believing in you and wanting you to be successful helps you to overcome your fears. This type of support is invaluable.



What Strikes You?


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One Response to “Moya. Career Obstacles, Difficulties and Road Blocks”

Comment from maria hunt
Time October 21, 2010 at 1:59 pm

What strikes me is how universal that feeling of fear is, regardless of age, gender, profession. But I especially appreciate hearing this from someone so successful. And the comment about how fear keeps us (or holds us) in our comfort zone is most insightful and thought provoking.
Thank you for sharing this!

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