Last week, Ms. JD, with the support of their national (US) sponsor, White & Case, hosted an international event via the wonderful web of social media, video conferencing and telephone conference. For those of you who have never heard of Ms. JD, it is a US-based non-profit that is “dedicated to the success of women in law school and the legal profession” – definitely a concept I can get behind.
While I was a bit too occupied to attend the London viewing party, I was able to dial-in and listen for the hour-long discussion with Ingrid Busson-Hall, executive director at Morgan Stanley in their Bank Regulatory Legal group in New York. The discussion was centered around ‘building a powerbase’ and ‘staying in the game’… all super-di-duper relevant topics, now that I am a big, bad associate. I was particularly interested in Ingrid’s career path and perspective as she works in my chosen field (banking/financial regulation) and has left private practice to go in-house (first to Credit Agricole, then to Morgan Stanley).
Here are some of the highlights from the discussion:
- the importance of self-branding: Ingrid highlighted how crucial it is to be your own ambassador, both for your employer (current and previous) and for yourself. She discussed the necessity of determining what your brand is and what it means for you, your chosen career path and how it should be delivered.
- networking: She stressed the importance of understanding that networking does not equal jobs. Networking is a way to bridge your personal and professional life, looking outside of the professional realm to the many different ways you can help others and benefit from the help of others. One point I found particularly interesting is her emphasis on sharing your network – she mentioned that when she meets someone for the first time, she starts thinking of the best way to connect that person with the best people fit for purpose in her own network.
- being flexible: Ingrid suggested that you have to be open and recognize opportunities as they present themselves.
- confidence is key: Ingrid suggested a recent book that discusses women, the workplace and the role confidence plays – The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. Just sent it to my kindle for reading (hopefully sooner rather than later).
- preparation vs. perfection: I found this particularly interesting – Ingrid remarked that many women are constantly striving to be perfect. While this can be admirable, it can also be completely exhausting and unrealistic. Instead, she suggested aiming for prepared rather than perfect; being prepared can be just as rewarding and doesn’t require the added emotional strain that constant drive for perfection can impose.
- embrace failure: no one likes to make mistakes, but mistakes are inevitable. Learn from them and move on – no need to dwell on failure.
- be persistent: ask for the raise you think you deserve, ask for the promotion you want – sometimes these things require persistence and asking for them over and over again until you get them.
- develop relationships: whether in a role of a mentor/sponsor or someone receiving mentoring/sponsoring, building relationships is crucial. They show determination, dedication and commitment – all which develop your personal brand.
- women are stronger together: Ingrid made the point that women should not stand in each other’s way; women tend to be unduly competitive with one another – we are all responsible for showing each other the support and respect we deserve.