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In honor of Women's History Month, we're putting the spotlight on strong and inspiring women from across the fields of Leadership, Finance, and Healthcare and asking them for advice they would give to their sister, mother, cousin, best friend, or their younger selves. 

This week, we feature Ahyiana Angel and Stephanie Dennis, two experts specializing in Career Coaching and Personal Growth. 

On passion and career
My suggestion is always to not stress over passion and just start with exploring yourself. Do a bit of self-assessment, take classes and get curious. Many of us are conditioned to check the boxes and do what is expected of us so much so that we don't take the time to learn and understand who we are. The reality with passion is that it may not be the thing that pays you, but that does not mean it can't serve you in other ways. The only way that you will know is through self-discovery. 

On setting yourself up for success during a career pivot
The first key is having patience. The second key is being realistic. Despite all of the wonderful sounding stories that you hear, you will need to properly vet your new idea or next move so that you can do what will work best for you and your situation. Research will play a vital role because you may be entering territory that is unfamiliar. Start to recruit people who can assist you in your transition, everyone from advocates to investors. Get realistic about your needs and finally just start taking action.  

On issues women face at different stages in their career that men may not
I would have to say that the biggest issue I've observed is the hesitation to own your worth and in turn, ask for what you are worth. Many men have no problem boasting about themselves and their accomplishments especially when they think that people are watching. Women can often take the humble route and that can, in turn, put a cap on upward mobility. The other glaring factor is having children. We are continuously making efforts to make strides in the way that we approach motherhood in the workplace but there are still unspoken biases that impact women from returning from extended maternity leave to applying for new positions. 

On career vs. overall life happiness
We spend so many hours out of our days working and conducting business that finding elements of your career that bring you happiness is important. When you're not happy in your work life it can seep into your actions and mood outside of work. Having had personal experience with unhappiness in a career, I identified a few signs that will let you know if you need a Switch, Pivot or Quit: you're easily agitated when people ask you about your job, you feel overlooked at work, everything in your life (even watching paint dry) is more interesting than your work, and finally when you feel discouraged daily. Most of us don't have jobs/careers that we love every element of but I like to use the 80/20 rule. Do you at least enjoy 80 percent of what you do daily? If so, then that is something to be happy about. 

On what she wished she knew earlier in her career 
I wish I knew the importance of having allies. A mentor is great but what's even better is having someone willing to sing your praises in rooms you have not been invited into yet. Having people with real influence lobbying on your behalf can make a difference that you did not even know you needed. 

On factors that prohibited workplace equality 20 years ago, and today
I think 20 years ago a major factor was still gender stereotypes. People still believed certain genders had to play particular roles. Today that is less and less common. 

Today, there shouldn’t be any factors in women not reaching equality, it should have happened already. So transparency, if there was public transparency around the lack of equality between men and women, it would be fixed real quick because no one wants a PR nightmare on their hands. 

On "work-life-balance" as a woman vs. a man 
Men typically end up working more hours than women throughout their careers and a big factor in that is indeed children. Women take time off to have a child, often if a parent is called to pick up a sick child it’s the mom who gets the first call even if she isn’t the parent who is able to go at that particular time. Because of those factors women talk about work life balance more than men do and needing a position that can offer that flexibility. 

On how companies and managers can promote a more inclusive workplace

  • Extend offers to women and men at equal rates. 
  • Hold themselves accountable for equitable compensation by doing a compensation audit and providing raises to people who are underpaid. 
  • Have transparency around compensation. If everyone is on the same level, it shouldn’t have to be kept a secret. 
  • Hire women for executive leadership roles. People need to see themselves represented at all levels of a company, not just their peers.
On asserting yourself

As hard as it might be and as intimidating as it may feel, you have to ask for what you deserve, no one will do it for you. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. Ask for the raise. Counter your offer. Go after the promotion. Apply for the job even if you only meet 50-60% of the qualifications listed. 

On her biggest piece of advice to young women just starting out in their careers
Go after what you want, work hard, have fun, stand up for yourself, ask for feedback frequently, be professional and take no shit. 

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