Inhale courage, exhale fear

International Women's Day 2021 – #ChooseToChallenge

On International Women’s Day, we wish to take a moment to acknowledge the many challenges humankind and particularly women are facing today. Challenges can be hard but with the right tools and mindset, they can also be an accelerator for growth for ourselves and the people around us.

We asked a selection of our many bright and ambitious female colleagues what their go-to quote or mantra is in difficult situations and asked Ailbhe Doyle and Melanie Berthelot a few additional questions.

Having a hard day? Looking for simple ways to empower women and children? Have a read below.

Questions for Ailbhe Doyle, Senior Associate, Oaklins, Ireland and NextGen Committee Member, 100 Women in Finance

What has 100 Women in Finance done to help women deal with the extra pressure in COVID times?

100 Women in Finance is an important work and social network for females in finance. Before the pandemic, the NextGen Dublin committee would organize several events each year which would cover a financial or social topic and facilitate peer-to-peer networking. These events are hugely important to our network considering that the majority of our members work in male-dominated environments and these events gave them an opportunity to connect with female peers and discuss workplace and social challenges they face on a day-to-day basis.

When the pandemic reached Ireland and we could no longer hold face-to-face events, we turned to virtual events in order to maintain that connection between females within our network. Our events covered topics such as the financial impact of the pandemic, sustainability initiatives, but also supported our members as they faced challenges working from home.

The pandemic strengthened the 100 Women in Finance community because we were no longer connecting on a national basis, but carefully timed virtual events allowed us to connect with our international peers. Our support network has grown, and our events have been tailored to suit our changed work environment. Topics covered at our events now range from financial matters to sustainability, exercise and mindfulness. AILBHE DOYLE

What are a few simple things we can all do to empower women around us?

The most important way is to treat her the exact same way that you would treat a male in the same situation. This applies whether it is a work or social situation and it starts from birth. We need to shed gender stereotypes right down to dressing baby boys in blue and baby girls in pink. I am fortunate enough to have grown up with three brothers and I never once felt that my future opportunities were limited because I was a female, especially given that my personal drive and ambition are not limited. Aside from physical differences, men and women have the same level of intelligence, the same inner strength, the same tenacity, the same vulnerabilities, and the same ambition.

When we do not ask a female to fight for her seat at the table as we would expect a male to, then we are doing them a disservice and we are not respecting them for the talented person that they are. The same way if we do not allow men to leave work early to pick their children up from school/creche we are denying them the opportunity to be active fathers. AILBHE DOYLE

As a female, and soon-to-be mum, I believe it is important that I encourage and empower both males and females to recognize their talents and to respect each other and treat each other as equals, affording each other the same opportunities regardless of their sex. Hopefully this will ensure that “in the future, there will be no female leaders, there will just be leaders”. (Sheryl Sandberg)

Questions for Melanie Berthelot, Head of Marketing, Oaklins

COVID has added a lot of extra pressure on women. How do you deal with this?

The added pressure forced me and many women to make some much-needed changes. I’ve learned to set boundaries, take better care of myself and to be as understanding and kind to myself as I am to others. Without this and the belief that we are infinitely stronger than we think, I would have caved under the pressure of raising two small kids while working full time through months of lockdown. I feel stronger – and yes, also more tired :-) – than ever.

How do you navigate uncertainty?

I have come to realize that life is uncertainty, always. COVID is no different. We don’t know what will happen in an hour, in a day, in a week or in a year… so why worry all the time and try to predict what may or may not happen? I very quickly started to focus on the present and what is still possible without thinking too much about all the things we are missing. All in all, 2020 was filled with small but unforgettable moments.

What do you say to young girls?

Whenever possible/appropriate, I make no distinction between boys and girls and I say the same things I tell my kids: “Dream big, be who you are, be kind, be open to people who are different. Whatever you want to do or become, I’ll support you because I think you are awesome. If you do something wrong, come to me, I will support you because making mistakes is part of learning and being human."

Above all, be yourself, find your own way, don’t worry too much about fitting in. Standard is boring. Standing strong and standing out is way cooler. MELANIE BERTHELOT

Go-to quotes

Labi Siffre – Something inside so strong

About Oaklins

United by a strong belief that we can achieve the extraordinary. Oaklins is a global team of 800+ financial advisory professionals in 40 countries providing M&A, growth equity, ECM, debt advisory and corporate finance services to support entrepreneurs, corporates and investors in reaching their goals.

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