By Joan Runnheim Olson
In this post, I interviewed Lisa K., a financial coach working in a male-dominated career. Lisa shares her career path, some of the challenges she's faced and how she's overcome them, and how she uses math and computer skills in her career.
Could you provide a little background on your career path? My career path was one with many turns. I’ve held positions within sales, marketing and project management. After deciding that I really wanted to own my own business, I then pursued the industry that comes very easy to me. I have owned my own financial coaching business for over 10 years.
How did you decide on your career choice? When I was working in a Fortune 500 company, I had the opportunity to hold several positions within the organization over the 12 years that I was employed there.
What I found is the area that I really enjoyed that didn’t seem like work was one that I wanted to pursue. Economics and money come easy for me to understand. Plus the training in project management and sales adds to the knowledge of owning your own business and being strategic about it.
Did someone in high school encourage you to pursue a non-traditional career? I had a wonderful experience with my economics teacher who encouraged me and challenged me in high school. He was also the mentor for Student Council which helped with building my confidence and influencing my life decisions.
What challenges have you encountered being in a male-dominated field? Financial planners have the image of not being trustworthy and looking out only for their own benefit. This is a comment I hear often, so I work hard in having my clients understand my philosophy. The other thing people have to understand is that money has a psychological component, and they need to own their responsibility.
Seeing a planner just to invest into the stock market, without being financially responsible on their own, can result in uncontrollable consequences in building wealth. There is also a challenge in social settings where you are with your peers and understanding the differences and boundaries between men and women.
My industry is 90% men, so whenever I am in a training environment with them or at a conference that entails large numbers of people together, the opportunity to be put into a sexist situation is heightened.
What have you done to overcome those challenges? I think most women have an advantage with relationship building. These skills help us build a better client trust level by listening and positioning products that are to the client’s best interest instead of selling to them.
Describe a typical day on the job. My work day starts at 7:30 a.m. when I check my email and mutual fund transaction confirmations. It typically takes me 1½ hours to go through everything that has come through overnight, which includes returning phone messages and finalizing case prep for the day. I have clients that are in a five state area, so I try and bundle review appointments to be effective in my travels.
Throughout the day, I try to keep up with client emails via my Blackberry, as I believe that the customer expectations need to be met and exceeded. My business is strictly based upon relationships and education. I focus in teaching the differences in money movement and empowering clients to make great decisions. I also spend time daily reading economic literature and running different case analyses.
What is the salary range for work such as yours? The sky is the limit based upon who your clientele is and how much you work. There is no glass ceiling when you own your own business.
How do you use math, science and computer skills in your job? [Note: Females tend to lose confidence in their math abilities at an early age and these skills are important in many high wage careers.] I use math every day along with computer skills. There isn’t a day where I can function without those in my skill set. The way that we correspond leads us to be proficient in computer skills and as far as I’m concerned, math is something that we all need to know.
How did you move up in your career? My business continues to prosper because I am always learning. If you are truly are an entrepreneur, you must continue to keep up with your industry, learning and thinking out of the box.
What advice would you give to females who may be considering a non-traditional career? Follow your heart with your desires. Research what comes easy to you and how to use those gifts to make a difference in the lives of others.