Getting to the Board Room AND on the Cap Table

by Natalie Levy

diverse women around the board table

 

 

It took me about 15 years to understand the value of showing up authentically at work.

I wore pants every day to work from 2006 to 2007. I was a young woman on Wall Street and thought that I needed to look like “one of the guys” to make it. I made sure my heels weren’t too high (if I opted for them instead of my more conservative flats) and made sure my nails weren’t too loud. I did wear makeup – which I like to think of as war paint these days – following an etiquette and professional training course put on by our bulge bracket bank prepping us in what was expected of their professionals.

For years, I believed that working harder and proving my worth based on sales-closes would position me to take on more senior roles. But it didn’t. 

Fast forward to today, you will discover an entirely different woman sitting across from you. I have made several daunting yet rewarding jumps in my career to find real alignment with what I am passionate about and what better suits my personal skills and superpowers. Not only have I forged my own authentic style (which was dubbed ‘European hipster’ by the partner at the private equity shop I worked at in San Francisco) but I have developed professional confidence and learned how to execute with excellence.

Many people talk about the issues surrounding a lack of diversity within companies and management teams these days. As a woman with experience across various male-dominated industries from Wall Street to growth technology, I will challenge that the diversity challenge is not isolated to who is in the room, but also scaled to management, investor, and boardroom profiles. 

There are now mandates requiring diversity on boards. But how can you make the leap?

First, where are you in your career? If you are an individual from a diverse background or women-identifying, securing a solid mentor and mapping out your professional development path may be key to advancing your career. Organic mentorship does not just happen for all of us, so being intentional to ensure you are receiving tailored insight around career pathing is critical. Our community meets regularly to support you through mentorship and skill development in areas critical to your professional success.

Once you have developed your personal set of skills and nailed down your professional superpowers, you can begin exploring different board opportunities. Looking into something smaller like your HOA board or a non-profit organization can be fantastic for initial learning!

Additionally, there are a number of great resources to land you a spot on a non-profit, growth-tech, or even public company board. Check out Him for Her, The Board List, and The Fourth Floor

Looking to step into more learning and development before the board seat? Why not explore the investing side to position yourself on a cap table? This is another great way to get involved. You may even be able to leverage your investor check to secure an advisory or board seat in the process. 

While early-stage investing is a risky asset class, there are ways to play with smaller sums of money. It can be a fantastic learning and networking experience, if not hugely rewarding on the financial front. Listen in here for a panel discussion with a handful of CO-based early-stage investors speaking to the basics.

Looking to level up your professional confidence, mentorship, or salary? We’d love to meet you.

With Independence,

Natalie

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