Women: Have the Guts Not to Become 'One of the Guys'

Edition: January 2002 - Vol 10 Number 01
Article#: 1146
Author: Repertoire

Staying connected might be the most important way for women to succeed- and stay ahead- in business, according to Janet Hanson, a 14-year veteran of Goldman Sachs and founder of Milestone Capital, an investment advisory firm that manages more than $2.3 billion in assets for large institutional investors. She is also the founder of 85 Broads, a global network of approximately 1,200 current and former Goldman Sachs women professionals. (The name was inspired by Goldman Sachs' New York address, 85 Broad Street.) Hanson recently spoke about her professional struggles and triumphs at Wharton School of Business's Women in Business conference, a report of which appeared in the Nov. 21 edition of knowledge@wharton, Wharton's e-business newsletter (from which this edition of ''Heard on the Street'' is excerpted). Hanson strongly urged women to develop a network of strong women and men. ''Connecting bright, talented women with one another in a focused but informal way generates incredible inspiration, value, and return- for the individual, the network, the organization, and the business,'' she was quoted as saying. ''It's the proverbial win-win and it's the main ingredient still missing from many corporate-sponsored diversity and mentoring programs- Women have to learn how to trust and believe in their intelligence and their uniqueness; to back each other up, and to have the guts not to become 'one of the guys.''' Hanson also urged women to stay connected to smart women. ''The real reason I founded 85 Broads was purely selfish,'' she said. ''I wanted to stay connected to some of the smartest women on the planet.'' She went on to offer this networking advice: ''It's interesting what happens: About 10 years after you get out of business school, a lot of your guy friends get married, and suddenly calling them at 11 at night doesn't work for their wives. You find your network shrinking. Here's another fact: A lot of you will leave the workforce perhaps several times to have children, and your identity will be severely challenged. You are no longer the big hitter, you've got post-partum depression and you long for smart conversation. You need to have that network of smart women in place long before you take your first Lamaze class.'' Hanson offered these other tips, garnered from a survey by 85 Broads:

  1. Network at all levels, above, below and with your peers. People move around to other firms, and up in firms, so think long-term.
  2. Do good work and create a positive atmosphere around yourself. If someone has a negative experience with you, they are likely to tell a lot of people.
  3. Figure out a niche in which to be the resident expert, the more complex the better, as the barriers to entry are higher.
  4. Send occasional brief updates to people who have played a major role in your career development, such as former mentors and supervisors.
  5. Use email as a follow-up tool. After talking with people at a conference, get their business card and send an email about how you enjoyed meeting them.