Today is International Women’s Day 2022 and in honor of the importance of this day celebrating women in all walks of life, I am reminded of the meaningful role mentorship has played in my professional and personal life. Throughout my career, climbing the corporate ladder as a woman in financial services came with a lifetime of wonderful experiences as well as common and unique challenges where I often found myself as one of the only or the few women in leadership positions or on male-dominated boards, having to go well above and beyond to demonstrate and prove my leadership capabilities. Thankfully, at every rung, I was able to lean on the guidance and lessons from my mentors, which in turn has allowed me to mentor scores of young women following in my footsteps.
Why Mentorship Matters for Women in Business and #BreakingTheBias
Far beyond seeing themselves in leadership positions, mentorship allows for younger women to learn from the life and professional experiences of such women. It is not enough for us to sit in leadership and hope that the look of us inspires more women to join male-dominated organizations and positions. I believe rising to the call of mentorships allows for the following to happen:
Starting my professional journey as a personal assistant to becoming the first Bahamian woman to serve as Chair of the Association of International Banks & Trust Companies of the Bahamas as well as the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BSFB), there were many times when I did not feel confident enough to take the next step. It’s normal to feel doubt however, allowing hesitation to settle in can be crippling to any of life’s journeys. Having a mentor as a part of a support system helps women push past these internal hindrances and build confidence. I’ve shared my doubts and internal fears with those I have mentored, to show- – the steps I took to overcome those roadblocks and move forward. It was not easy.
Access to Opportunities
There is no shortage of talent and skill across women in various demographics, socio-economic positions, and races. The challenge that can arise from empowering more women to sit in leadership positions is access to opportunities. Mentorship allows women from all walks of life access to possibilities from which they may have otherwise not benefited.
Lead by Example
The most fulfilling part of my professional life has been the opportunity to mentor and guide some of the most brilliant and forward-thinking women as they -found their place in the professional world. I have worked with women on every aspect of their professional lives from setting business priorities to navigating professional etiquette, career challenges, themes and situations I’ve experienced along the way. When we as women lead by example and put our experiences to practical use we create diversified leadership which unbolts access to future women leaders.
How to Find A Mentor
Finding a mentor – can be as simple as reaching out to women in fields you desire to – pursue a career. Attend leadership webinars and events and do not be afraid to connect with leaders in service or charitable organizations you may wish to become a part of. Many women have played influential roles in my life as mentors, and it’s been very rewarding to reciprocate. I encourage women in leadership roles to make themselves available – to other women as mentors – it’s one of the most gratifying ways to inspire change and disrupt the norm.
Happy International Women’s Day from all of us at Maran Global Solutions.
Antoinette Russell MBA, FICA, TEP is an award-winning veteran of the financial services industry in The Bahamas. Well respected for her 30+ years of professional contributions to various corporate and financial boards and institutions, Antoinette founded Maran Global out of the continuing need to further the growth of sound and ethical business practices in The Bahamas financial industry.
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