Build your network to scale your growth

Building community has been the cornerstone of Katherine Colsher’s career, spanning from the launch of the “10,000 small businesses” program at Goldman Sachs to becoming the CEO at Girls Who Invest. Colsher, a judge at this year’s InvestmentNews Women to Watch Summit, is motivated by opportunities to build and scale incredible organizations.

“I had tremendous sponsorship, mentorship, and I had the opportunity to work across all divisions,” she says. “The irony wasn’t lost on me that the industry is harder for women to advance. I had all these opportunities that weren’t necessarily consistent across the industry, regardless of Goldman Sachs, but just across the industry at large.

“I felt I could contribute and that my experience should be the norm as opposed to people feeling like they didn’t have the same opportunities that I had.”

Nominations are now closed but a full list of the Women to Watch Awards can be found here, while to register for the event, click on this link.

At Girls Who Invest, Colsher has provided training and support for women that join the programs. The organization is trying to emphasize that those intimidated by the technical skills required in the field need not be. Colsher maintains that diversity matters and that the lived experience is unique to everyone.

“If a candidate with a less traditional skill set is being benchmarked against the technical skills of someone who’s coming in with a more traditional skill set, you’re doing a disservice to your own population of people by essentially editing people out early in the interview process. Such limited hiring practices very much need to change,” Colsher said.

The executive finds that conferences help build the muscle memory required in the financial services industry to approach people both in finding mentorship and a peer community. Colsher emphasizes, “A panellist at a similar summit was reinforcing the importance of a peer network. A peer community is paramount as a community of sponsors and mentors and quite frankly probably feels more natural.

“You can rely on a peer for support as you make difficult decisions because they are going to champion you in different ways than a senior mentor might. In wanting to switch jobs, a peer mentor might say, ’Yes you should go for the change.’ Senior management could be more concerned about talent retention.”

Attending conferences is not accessible for many and Colsher is cognizant of such opportunities being available to the fortunate. Her goal remains to be supportive of those attending such events.

“We have thousands more who support those women, serving as ambassadors, and our partner firms who support our curriculum. Our alumni population consists of 69 per cent people of colour. It is one of the most unique environments to see diversity.”

Nominations are now closed but a full list of the Women to Watch Awards can be found here, while to register for the event, click on this link.

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