It is difficult to believe that it’s nearly a year since I sat in the audience of the Money Management’s Women in Financial Services Awards. How rewarding it was to watch many wonderful women being recognised for their achievements. The memories are still very fresh in my mind.
However there are some memories that were concerning to me. It was troubling to hear a number of the female recipients accepting their award stating:
“I did not prepare a speech as I did not believe I would win this award”.
We all suffer sometimes from self-doubt, even the most powerful female leaders do.
As the finalists for the Money Management’s ‘Woman of the Year’ award were announced, my own misgivings kicked in. These were all amazing women who had achieved so much in our Industry and for themselves. As a wave of doubt hit me, I remember thinking most of these amazing women were doing so much more than me, this is going to be hard.
Well as history shows, much to my surprise, I did win. It was such an exciting and exhilarating experience, one that I will not forget.
It was as I reflected on this experience, I put the question to myself, what does it mean to win Woman of the Year?
To me, it is about being recognised for the work that I have done over the years and the many sacrifices that I have made to help this industry to excel; with the incredible support of my family.
It’s knowing that the belief and guidance my mentors gave to me, and the valuable lessons instilled in me through my late father have helped me to become the woman that I am today.
Mostly an award such as this, comes with huge responsibility. To be a role model and a champion of women, to empower, motivate, encourage, support and mentor them to be the best that they can be; it is a role I take seriously. The Woman of the Year award somehow made me realise that this is my purpose in life.
Why did so many women on that night feel that they would not win or in fact that they did not deserve to win?
So many women continue to doubt their abilities, constantly saying sorry, hanging back and not speaking up for fear that it might somehow place them in an awkward position. Too often I hear about female colleagues not taking that job or promotion for fear that they do not have all the skills to meet the role; feeling guilt about putting career ahead of family. Till finally it manifests into situations such as winning an award that “surely I can’t win”.
I have worked hard to overcome these types of issues through personal experiences. Each experience challenged my thinking, taking me out of my comfort zone and making me stronger as I faced difficult situations; allowing me to back myself and stand tall.
Launching my “Dare to Dream” video series became a priority to me so that I could share my experiences and help to guide women in understanding that they too can achieve their dreams. I want each woman to know that it is within them to be the best that they can be, by being resilient, educating themselves, getting out of their comfort zone, believing in themselves, taking risks and being prepared to fail.
As Oprah would say, “step into yourself”, understand what your purpose is and believe in yourself.
Could you be the next Money Management “Woman of the Year”?
Yes, you could be!
Nominations for Money Management's Women in Financial Services Awards are open until 31 August 2017.
Deborah Kent is founder and director of Integra Financial Services and was Money Management's Woman of the Year in 2016.