Veronica. Difficulties, Advice and Alliances

posted March 16th, 2011 by Janet Graham - One Comment

I asked Veronica to think of the people she had the greatest difficulty with and how she would describe them or characterize them and what their impact was on her and her career. She said: “I would say the type of people who I found most difficult to deal with would be people who were fearful of change because certainly part of what I believe in and I advocate in my work and my life is if you stop changing you stop growing, and if you stop growing you start dying.  So if you put someone like me into a situation where there is no possibility for change or growth then the person who becomes difficult is me. This is part of the reason change is so slow across the world because the people saying there are better ways or we can do this better are up against entrenched people who have no reason to change.  In fact, they fear it because it means that something in their precious little world that has been so good to them is open for discussion and we all want to defend whatever our cave is, whatever the cave where we keep all our most precious things, right, really we all want to defend that. Unless you have the ability to see that you won’t be hurt by the change and for a lot of people, and I have to say a lot of men because these positions are held by men but I’ve seen this in women too, they don’t want to take the risk.  There’s no upside for them to take the risk. Status quo is just fine thank you, don’t rock the boat.  These things take time and we know that things that take time are things that get buried.”


I asked Veronica to tell me what she considered to be the best advice she had ever been given.  She said: “The best advice I’ve ever been given is to improve my communication skills and to not expect that everyone can make the leap with me in just one conversation or ten. I hope this makes sense to you because it’s the best advice I’ve ever been given.  Do I always follow it?  No.  But I do find when I’m working with clients with less corporate experience and all the rest of it, that I am very careful how I communicate to them.  Occasionally, when I meet somebody who is out there in the corporate world, I expect that when they ask me something that they are able to make the leap to where the conversation’s going. They ask a question and I tell them what I think and it still surprises me that they don’t get what I’m saying or where I’m going. I’ve been out of the business, the corporate world, for 15 years, maybe 20, gosh I’ve lost count, but I still think, okay, you all went to business school, they’re teaching you all these things, why are you sitting there with your jaw open when I say what is so blindingly obvious, but I’m getting better at hiding my thoughts.”


I asked Veronica what advice she would pass along to a young woman. She responded: “I would say to try everything, try different organizational structures and get as much experience as you can. Don’t confine your education to just getting your ticket but broaden your horizons to look at the world as it exists which is not advice I would just give to women but certainly a big part of that is to look at the world as it exists for women, and help move the progress of women forward by choosing to get engaged in something because in the end we all benefit when we do.”


I asked Veronica if she would advise a young woman to establish alliances with other women at their own firm, outside their own firm, or otherwise. She responded: “I would because I think that even though you run the risk and there is a risk of not understanding the male side of things, you need the support of other women who are experiencing to some degree the same things you are experiencing.  Just going back to the Women’s Committee, a lot of women in the bank, particularly at the more junior levels, didn’t understand the mandate of the committee, right, and to this day still don’t get it that the issue we were addressing was that there were no women at the top and in fact, still aren’t. There are a couple of women at the top today but they really didn’t come up the same path the majority of the women are on, and I have no opinion there, I’m just saying, so how is it that the women in the bank think that they, too, can get to the top when there’s no more evidence that they can today than there was when we were there.  So I would say you need the companionship of women and it is a path that would be very, very lonely without women to talk to.  You need the companionship of women but not necessarily as a means to advance your career. You need the companionship of women because it is good to align yourself with people who are funny, smart, intelligent and female.”


What Strikes Me?

Try everything, including different organizational structures,


Get as much experience as you can


Don’t confine your education to just getting your ticket


Broaden your horizons


Look at the world today as it exists for women


Help move the progress of women forward by getting engaged in something


Everyone benefits from being engaged


Women can support other women, in part, because they are experiencing the same things


It’s good to align yourself with people who are funny, smart, intelligent and female


It would be very, very lonely as a woman without other women to talk to



What Strikes You?


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One Response to “Veronica. Difficulties, Advice and Alliances”

Comment from John van Haastrecht
Time March 28, 2011 at 1:18 pm

All good advice to both (all) sexes. In work , we should be blind to sex ,color , ethinicity , etc. We should also fight ignorance and bigotry. Just a male perspective. John

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