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Master Class – Lessons in Leadership

By Sophia Vouzianas, Manager, Advisory Services, KPMG

Another great night with Financial Women San Francisco!

On May 16, 2018, Barbara Morrison (founder & president, TMC Financing), Debbie Clifford (VP, Financial Planning & Analysis, Autodesk), and Terri  Kallsen (EVP, Investor Services, Charles Schwab) shared best practices, personal stories, insights, and essential lessons, which aimed to help us re-launch and energize our leadership skills. FWSF Past President Paige Venable (managing director, Risk Consulting, KPMG) moderated the panel. 

Event Panel

The night began with a networking reception hosted by KPMG. The welcome reception gave the attendees (members and prospective members) an opportunity to get to know one another better and to enjoy some delicious appetizer and a glass of wine. The reception was followed by a panelist discussion. The panel shared their personal career histories, leadership styles, challenges encountered along the way, career setbacks, mentoring, and work-life integration. These topics were then further discussed during the Q&A session. The Q&A session was an excellent opportunity for attendees to learn more from these accomplished professionals.

Some memorable anecdotes from the speakers:

Barbara Morrison started trading stocks on an institutional desk in the late ‘70s. There wasn’t much concern or compliance with sexual discrimination laws. They didn’t give “girls” business cards. Although she was the only non-admin woman, she got the admin benefits package. She left to start her own company in 1981.

Debbie Clifford works in tech and about five years ago was on a non-deal road show to meet with investors. There were five men on one side and she and her CEO on the other. All the men came around and said hello to the CEO and ignored Debbie. She didn’t say anything but her CEO took her aside and said the world isn’t fair but you have to speak up. Force it: “Hi, I’m Debbie.” Be present, be vocal —make yourself known and be heard. DON’T miss the moment.

Terri Kallsen says as far as work/life balance, there’s no “secret sauce.” She says to “live deliberately” (a quote from Thoreau). Put first things first, do weekly, daily, monthly planning (for example, pick three days in the summer where family spends the whole day together). Don’t put pressure on yourself she says; be where you need to be and the rest will come.

More key takeaways:

  • Find the right people and cheer their successes
  • As a leader, you need to ask, listen and truly care about what people tell you
  • Don’t miss the moment — be present, be vocal, be heard, and don’t be afraid
  • Work/ life integration — there’s no secret sauce

Hope you will join us at the next Master Class!

Attendees at Master Class


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