As Financial Technologies Forum is a women owned and operated business to the Wall Street community, I thought it would be enlightening to interview Nicki Gilmour, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Glasshammer, an online community to women executives in finance, law, technology and big business, to find out firsthand what women are saying about what it’s like to work on Wall Street.
Maureen Lowe: Tell us a little about yourself and The Glass Hammer.
Nicki Gilmour: I grew up in Belfast where the word “never” is used a lot and so I developed a mentality of asking “why not” when it came to changing situations and the status quo. Years later, I was running the leading jobs website here in the states (efinancialcareers) and I started to ask myself why were there not more women in senior management positions on wall street. I wanted to start a community for women in the financial services, a place where they could come to, to be informed and inspired by great content and therefore stay in the game. Later, we launched events where women could come and network with each other. We now are the leading site for professional women in finance and have 10,000 members. It is very rewarding to hear from women in the trenches when they say they find theglasshammer.com useful in their day to day career management decisions. The Norwegian government recently invited us to Norway, along with Time magazine, to cover their gender practices, so its great to recognized as a leading information source by governments and corporations as well as the women themselves,
ML: What made you start The Glass Hammer?
NG: I felt there was a need for it. The tag line is “smart women in numbers” and I feel that women needed a community, especially in some functions where they are likely to be the only women on their team. Guess what, the women in the skyscraper next door is probably going through the same issues and I wanted to connect people. I also wanted to work with companies to help them understand how to attract, develop and retain women. I advise companies on what needs to be done to manage their talent better with the context of their own firm’s culture. We have another blog for business leaders and HR people called www.evolvedemployer.com
ML: What do you feel is a common misperception about women on Wall Street?
NG: I think the common misperception is that all women want to have kids and want to stay home with those kids. Everyone is different and companies should look to retain people who are willing to do what it takes to be high achievers whether they are women or men. A few tweaks and the firm gets to keep the top female talent, really not that hard.
ML: What do you feel is the biggest challenge women on Wall Street have overcome?
NG: Just being there in numbers, 30 years ago most women were in admin roles, even the graduates. There is a long way to go and I believe in the 30% theory which suggests once critical mass happens, women will be more accepted as leaders.
ML: What is one challenge you’ve personally faced during your Wall Street career?
NG: I am ridiculously honest and direct. I don’t play games and have learnt that others do. I think we should all learn early on, that not everyone will share your value set and modus operandi. Having worked in London and NY, I would also say, culture cannot be underestimated.
ML: What do you think women on Wall Street should be doing to help each other advance?
NG: I think men naturally understand that there is a place in the pack for even the weakest performing guy. Women should think about that. Network with everyone, and be professional and competent first and foremost.
ML: What do you think is next for women on Wall Street?
NG: Well, we need to make sure women keep entering the industry so that there is pipeline to develop future leaders.
ML: Who are some of your female Wall Street mentors?
NG: I am very lucky to have met fantastic women and men and my main go to person is a man since we were formally matched in a mentor/mentee situation a few years ago, and I honestly think he has been so helpful over the years. I think it is important to have a mentor that you can relate to , and it doesn’t matter if they are male or female. I look up to several women who inspire me including Jacki Zehner, Linda Descano, and Marie Wilson, all of these women have achieved a lot and always have time for a coffee with me. I appreciate their words of wisdom.
ML: Tell us about your “Women on the Buy-Side” event on October 5th.
NG: It is an invitation only event for top women in investment management to network with each other and join the discussion around the new industry regulations. These women are rarely in a room all together and its my pleasure to provide that opportunity for them to know each other better
ML: What is one piece of advice that you would like to give your fellow female Wall Street peers?
NG: I don’t think that they need my advice! Read www.theglasshammer.com and join our community.
ML: With two big events coming up shortly, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to participate in this interview. I, and the other women on Wall Street, appreciate it.
I hope you found this interview to be informative and inspiring. Please share your thoughts and personal experiences about women executives on Wall Street.