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Backing yourself: working women’s wisdom

March 4, 2020
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In the spirit of International Women's Day, we're celebrating the wise and wonderful women in our team all week. Today: Nikki Gandhi and Becky Roberts!

Kriya prioritises diversity and inclusion in everything we do. As an equal opportunity employer, we’re proud to attract diverse talent for roles within what have historically been considered male-dominated fields.

Meet two women from our team who haven’t let the stereotypes of traditionally male-dominated fields hold them back from forging successful careers in finance. We’ll start with Becky who spent 7 years at one of the big banks, progressing to become a relationship manager before joining Kriya to lead our Portfolio Management team.

When reflecting on her experience working in male-dominated teams, Becky notes:

“Being a young female relationship manager in the bank was hard at times as I wasn’t what people expected. However, rather than dwell on this and let it affect me, I was determined to prove them wrong and show them why they should trust me to support their banking needs”. Her solution was not to focus on her gender and being a minority, but to be confident and back herself!

Nikki, who currently works as a Programme Director in our Strategic Partnerships team, continues in the same vein, advising women working in sales to “Be yourself, back yourself and believe you are equal to anyone else you work with. Skills can be learnt, experience can be gained, but no one else can be you!” Nikki also has a long career working at a number of traditional banks in very senior positions.

When asked about the challenges she faces as a woman in her role as, Nikki says:

“I haven’t faced any in this role at Kriya, but I have had mentees experience it in other organisations, where sometimes assumptions are made about a woman’s level of intelligence or capabilities.

Sometimes if a woman says exactly the same thing as a man, they are described as bossy or emotional whereas a man is described as assertive and ‘gets things done’. It’s really important to be both assertive and collaborative in different situations and with different audiences. It shouldn’t make a difference whether you are a woman or a man.”

The idea of backing yourself has been consistent in enabling Becky and Nikki to rise up the ranks in their field. However, it’s worth noting that this inner confidence and self-belief is more often a product of nurture rather than nature. Family and strong female role models have been a source of inspiration to strive towards achieving great things in their careers.

Family is at the core of Nikki’s inspiration. From her grandparents who immigrated to the UK in the 60s from India, to her parents who worked hard to provide for her and her sister. Not only does she want to be an inspiration to her 2 year old daughter but she wants to make sure her daughter grows up in a world where she never has to hear the words ‘glass ceiling’ or ‘gender pay gap’ in her career!

The naysayers can also be a source of inspiration. According to Becky, her biggest source of inspiration has been through proving those who doubted her abilities wrong. “Teachers and friends all told me I’d fail if I didn’t go to University… so it’s those people that have inspired me to achieve more and focus on working towards each promotion and job move”.

“If there are people who inspire you, spend time with them and allow them to guide you as you move through your career and life,” she adds.

So what are the practical steps that can be taken to back yourself and strive towards greatness in your career? Nikki and Becky offer the following advice:

Be yourself and be unapologetic: “believe in yourself and focus on your circle of influence”, says Nikki.

Be confident: Becky notes this is particularly important for anyone thinking about a career in sales. “Don’t ever feel like you can’t do something, or let someone say you can’t, because if you put your mind to it, you’re more likely to succeed!”

Surround yourself with positive people: “who support you to do better or help you deal with a difficult situation,” says Becky.

Tackle self doubt head on: Nikki believes you can re-educate your mind to think positively and that understanding imposter syndrome enables people to take practical steps towards conquering it. For anyone experiencing this, she suggests reading Feel the fear and do it anyway by Susan Jeffers.

Nikki reflects on her early days at Kriya and how the positive environment made all the difference: “Everyone in the Sales team and the rest of the company made me feel really welcome when I joined and I feel just as valued as my male colleagues.”

As a company, we identify that creating a diverse and inclusive environment is a community effort and is everyone’s responsibility.

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