Vera Huie had her first exposure to finance via a shoe store.
She worked there in high school and found herself more interested in the back office side of the business, with its bookkeeping and accounting functions, than the retail side, with its aisles of shoes to be sold.
“I really enjoyed the checks and balances and arranging the puzzle pieces in order to make sense of things and to understand the story behind the business,” says Vera, who is now a Senior Finance Manager at food and beverage giant Nestlé USA.
That after-school job launched a multi-decade career. After working in finance for a few other companies, Vera is currently celebrating her 22nd anniversary at Nestlé—and we sat down with her to learn more about her story and to hear her advice for other women interested in building a successful career in finance.
Investing in the foundation
Vera studied business economics in college, but it was her experience working in the field after graduating that really cemented the importance of a strong understanding of financial fundamentals.
“I see finance as a base foundation for running a business,” she explains. “Businesses evolve and change. Look at ecommerce, which wasn’t something someone might have thought of 30 years ago. You need to evaluate the go-to-market strategy. What does the business plan look like? What are the tax implications? There’s a core component that remains foundational but there are parts that evolve, and that’s what makes finance so interesting.”
Vera thinks of finance as “vast and ever-changing,” though even she was surprised by the abundant opportunities to continue to learn and deepen her knowledge during her 20+ year Nestlé career.
She joined the Nestlé USA team first and foremost because of its leadership, she says. “The hiring manager that took me on was very energetic and warm, and that spoke to their culture and the type of talent they brought in. Not only did they have strong business acumen, but it was very much a personal company.”
The focus on an industry that interested her was—excuse the food pun—the cherry on top.
“Food speaks to everyone. Those of different ethnic backgrounds, different cultures, in different markets – we get to satisfy the needs of our diverse consumers,” says Vera. “When I meet people and they find out I work for Nestlé, they often react with a lot of passion and excitement. It’s neat to see how far-reaching our products are.”
Vera started her career at Nestlé in corporate accounting and describes her work there as “speaking finance to finance.” But that’s not where she stayed.
Over the years, Vera has worked in corporate reporting, where she partnered with business units; in management, where she managed a sales disbursement team; in project management, where she was involved in the transformation of the company’s finance organization; and in specific business units, like the company’s import and export business, which had her traveling to Mexico to learn how to leverage local production capacity to bring brands like La Lechera and Abuelita to the States.
Across these different roles, one thing kept Vera focused: the people.
“Role or title never mattered,” she says. “It has always been about colleagues working together to collectively drive the business. I really do appreciate working with our people, and that has carried me forward.”
Looking back, Vera sees her finance career as having had two distinct paths: initially it was focused on corporate finance, followed by her transition to business units, where she learned to be a business leader first, a financial expert second.
“In a business unit, you’re working with sales, marketing, supply chain and manufacturing. You’re speaking finance to non-finance folks, working to really understand impacts, and how we can work collectively as a team to ensure brand growth and development and effective new product launches,” she says. “For instance, I didn’t know much about marketing, but my marketers would educate me and I would educate them on the finance side.”
Vera credits her career advancement to two forces: her own will and Nestlé USA’s commitment to investing in its people.
“You drive your own career, and you are your own limit,” she says, referencing opportunities Nestlé offers to do things like move into different divisions and even move abroad. (Vera has stayed positioned in the U.S., but she did move from California to Virginia to be closer to Nestlé’s new headquarters in Arlington.)
“Growing up, I was very timid, but at Nestlé, I’ve constantly been encouraged and supported and have built my confidence as a finance business partner,” she says. “I’ve come out of my shell and developed, not just technically, but also in how to interact with people, how to be an influencer without needing to be in a particular role of formal authority. I’ve learned leadership, effectiveness, collaboration, and how to leverage radical candor and healthy conflict to move things forward.”
4 key strategies for a successful finance career
We asked Vera what advice she’d want to pass on to other women in mid-level and high-level finance roles who want to advance their career path:
- Have the courage to ask questions and learn from others. “It’s normal to hesitate,” says Vera. “But it’s a sign of leadership to be able to step forward and admit that you don’t know something. Your example could open up the floodgates for everyone else. It establishes your position as a leader,” she says.
- Every experience is a learning experience, good or bad. “That means you shouldn’t dwell on any one particular incident,” says Vera, “but rather reflect on what happened, learn from it and move forward.”
- Be present at the table as if you already belonged. “Don’t wait for anyone to invite you. Put yourself forward and do the work to make sure you do belong,” says Vera. “If there are things you don’t know, take the initiative to go out on your own accord or with your network to sharpen that skillset.”
- How you project yourself is how others will receive you. Related to her point above, Vera encourages women to learn how to be their own best advocates. “My personality and my culture had always been, ‘Keep your head down, do your work, and people will recognize you.’ That’s not true,” she says. “You also have to learn to proactively build your brand.”
💎Want to implement change in your team or organization? Watch the video to the end to do it successfully.
📼 To implement change you need to follow certain steps. Play this video to get three top tips on how to do it the best possible way. You'll hear from Kyle Lisboa, Support Operations Manager at Esri, who shares her experience with you!
📼Why implement change? Tip #1: Identify the reason. Think about the business reason for the change. If you understand why change is needed, it helps you explain it to others. Avoid making change for change's sake and implement solutions that solve problems.
📼Plan to implement change! Tip #2: Develop a plan. Create a detailed plan to help implement the change. If you create steps and timelines, this will guide the process. It also helps others understand how you are progressing towards the implementation and what the next steps are.
To Implement Change You Need Others - Tip #3: Seek Feedback
Gather feedback from those affected before, during, and after any changes are implemented. Allowing others to provide their feedback helps to create an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels part of the solution.
📨 Are you interested in joining Esri? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Kyle Lisboa
Kyle is an experienced Strategic Operations Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry. She’s skilled in Arcgis Products, Databases, Management, Geography, and Cartography. If you are interested in a career at Esri, you can connect with her on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Esri
At Esri, they build cutting-edge geographic information system (GIS) technology that customers use to solve the world’s most complex challenges: slowing climate change, stamping out disease, designing a better city, fighting crime, and much more. Their ArcGIS software is helping communities around the globe respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by monitoring the surge, managing testing sites, aiding essential workers in finding childcare, mapping food and essentials, and keeping residents informed and safe.
Nearly 80% of workers want to work for a company that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, per a CNBC survey.
But how do prospective employees — and, for that matter, current ones — know whether an organization takes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) seriously?
Metrics can help.
What are DEI metrics?
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging metrics are measurements of how a company is doing against its stated DEIB goals. They help track progress, light up problems, synthesize momentum over time, prioritize investment, and allow a company and its employees to have accountability over DEIB intentions.
How can DEI metrics help my overall DEI strategy?
Creating a DEIB strategy is the first step in making your workplace more equitable. But having DEI metrics is a vital second step in ensuring that progress happens.
DEI metrics help a company actualize their strategy, live out their values, meet employee expectations, and make the workplace more fair for all employees.
10 examples of DEI metrics
1. Hiring: the diversity of your candidate pipeline.
How diverse is your applicant pool? Have your candidates self-identify and track what representation looks like in your candidate system.
2. Representation: the demographics of your current employees.
Many companies put pressure on their new hires to make up for gaps in their existing employee population — so make sure you’re benchmarking against data on what your current workforce is made up of.
3. Representation: the demographics of your leadership team.
People need to see that there is a path for success for people who look like them at your organization. What does the makeup of your board look like? Your directors? Your managers? And what does the promotion pipeline look like into those roles?
4. Representation: the demographics of your suppliers.
The money that you spend can significantly impact communities around you — so you should be measuring whether you’re doing that in a way that challenges bias and champions equitable treatment.
5. HR systems: pay equity.
Do all employees, regardless of gender or race, make the same amount of money if they’re doing the same job? If not, what’s your gender / race pay gap and how quickly are you closing it?
6. Employee experience: HR issues.
It’s important to track wins when it comes to DEIB, but it’s also vital to track times when your organization falls short. How many HR / People issues related to DEIB, including allegations of unfair treatment or bias, has your organization dealt with in the past year? What was the result of them? How quickly did issues get resolved? These metrics are key to know.
7. Employee experience: satisfaction with DEI progress.
When you send out employee satisfaction surveys, make sure you include questions on how employees perceive your current progress on DEI goals. They’re the ones most impacted by your strategy — and their opinion matters.
8. Employee engagement: participation in communication platforms.
How often do employees participate in Slack? What about by-channel participation? Looking at data on who talks to who and when can help highlight issues with inclusion or culture. Some companies are using AI-enabled text analysis tools to look for signs of frustration or for problematic language.
9. Employee participation: ERG membership.
Employee resource groups can be hugely helpful in creating community around different identities, interests, and demographics. They can also provide guidance on how to actualize your organization’s DEIB goals. (Which is part of the reason you should pay ERG leaders for their efforts, but that’s a topic for a different blog.)
10. Brand reputation: customer perception.
We’ve talked about key groups for whom DEIB metrics matter — prospective employees, current employees, leadership — but they matter to your customers, too. Whether you add a DEIB component to your existing NPS process, conduct 1:1 customer interviews, or get feedback some other way, it’s important to see whether your customer base is seeing progress on your DEIB goals, too.
Have you ever been so exhausted that you quit your job?
You may have been experiencing burnout.
Burnout is characterized by overwhelming exhaustion, detachment from your work, and a sense of ineffectiveness.
And while anyone can experience burnout, if you have ADHD, you may be more susceptible to it.
Before you get to the point where quitting feels like your only option, there are steps you can take to set healthy boundaries and start feeling more like yourself again. Read on to learn how you can recognize burnout in yourself, and what to do if you’re experiencing it!
How Does ADHD Burnout Feel?
There are some clear signs that you’re burning out, but ADHD can make the descent to burnout harder to detect. These warning signs include:
- Lack of motivation - not wanting to do the things you need to do or the things you love.
- Exhaustion - feeling overly tired both mentally and physically.
- Irritability and mental fatigue - feeling short-tempered, mean, or like you snap easily.
- Physical discomfort - body aches, low energy levels, and general pain.
- Negative outlook - the tendency to find something wrong with nearly everything.
- Emotional dysregulation - feeling weepy, sad, or unable to smile or connect with others.
Generally, burnout starts with taking on too much. Exhaustion creeps in, and you feel like every day is working against you because you are constantly overwhelmed. You may start to feel like the entire world is spinning out of control, or like no matter what you do you can’t keep up (or catch up).
If this resonates with you, you might be on the road to ADHD burnout.
Why People with ADHD Can Be More Susceptible to Burnout
So why does ADHD make some folks more susceptible to burnout? There are a few common ADHD traits that often result in behaviors correlated with burnout (taking on too much, working too long, etc.):
- Hyperfocus - ADHD is not exclusively about attention deficits. In fact, hyperfocus is the opposite – a deep, intense concentration to the point of being oblivious to your surroundings. Per WebMD, hyperfocus is a state of highly-focused attention that lasts for an extended period of time. You concentrate on something so hard that you lose track of everything else going on around you. When hyperfocus sets in at work, it can be hard to unplug or be aware of the people and environment around you.
- Time Tracking - Losing track of time is one thing, but if you find yourself losing track of hours without realizing it, that could be related to burnout. People with ADHD perceive time not as a sequence of events the way others usually do, but as a diffuse collection of events viscerally connected to the people, activities, and emotions that fill them.
- Difficulty Prioritizing - Do you take on too much and then struggle to prioritize it? When someone asks for help, does everything often go to the wayside so you can jump in? Or maybe the daunting anticipation of the tasks ahead prevents you from starting. Per ADDitude, ADHD impacts your temporal processing abilities, which can affect executive functioning.
Combating ADHD Burnout
If you think you may be suffering from ADHD burnout, there are a few ways to take back control. Here are three tips for combating ADHD burnout:
Reserve Your Yeses - Pump the brakes when you recognize the early signs of ADHD burnout. Start reserving your yeses right away. Say no, and practice not apologizing. It is okay to say, "I have a lot on my plate right now and cannot take that on. Thanks for thinking of me." Saying no is nothing to apologize for, and it should be celebrated! You are working to protect your energy above all else.
Practice Over-Estimating - If you think you could knock something out in a day, give yourself a week. Overestimate on time and allow yourself the grace to have a little more time than usual to complete projects. Slowing down when starting a new job or role will help you produce high-quality work and prevent ADHD burnout.
Drop the Mask - Be honest with your employer and friends. Let them know that although you seem to keep up internally, you struggle. Identifying ADHD burnout from the outside can be extremely difficult. Your honesty and transparency will position you to determine if your environment is supportive and inclusive.
How to Support Colleagues Dealing with ADHD Burnout
The experiences above may not resonate with you personally, but perhaps you’ve noticed other people you work with describe or experience them.
If you’re a manager, there are several ways you can support colleagues with ADHD (as well as neurodivergent employees more generally) to help prevent burnout. Ask for clarity on when they have felt the most supported at work. Discovery questions like, “how did you feel at that time?” or “how was the pace of that project?” can help you to understand their actual capacity.Download this free guide if you’re looking for more ways to support your neurodivergent coworkers. Work with your DEIB and HR team to develop new neurodivergent inclusivity standards to help you stay ahead of the ADHD burnout cycle.
💎Worried about bias in the workplace? Watch the video to the end to find out how to reduce it!
📼Avoiding bias in the workplace requires a lot of effort. Play this video to get three top tips that will help you. You'll hear from Ben Lopez, Talent Acquisition Manager for EMEA at Workiva, who shares advice on how to create a more fair, equitable environment where everyone feels welcome and has a seat at the table.
📼Acknowledging bias in the workplace is the starting point. Tip #1: Recognize Bias. Take the time to recognize your own bias. Both conscious and unconscious. And look out for bias within teams and among peers. Work together to understand how you can all avoid each of those biases that you may encounter.
📼Avoid sneaky bias in the workplace! Tip #2: Rely on a structured process. Whether it's about interviewing, promotions, or performance reviews, relying on a consistent, fair, and objective process will help guard against bias. Document the process to keep both you and your peers accountable. And when it comes to interviewing, work with your peers and other participants to define clear questions and objectives to cover with each candidate.
Reduce Bias In The Workplace By Knowing Different People - Tip #3: Widen Your Network
Don't always engage with the same people. Widen your internal network, and interact with different teams, and different departments. Get to know those with different life experiences, different academic backgrounds, and different work experiences. Understanding those who are different from us allows us to be more empathetic and create an environment where we all feel a sense of belonging.
📨 Are you interested in joining Workiva? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Ben Lopez
With a robust background in recruitment, Ben is an agile and well-networked talent acquisition leader. He’s been recruiting high-caliber talent around the globe for 15 years, spanning SaaS software, professional services, oil & gas, and healthcare across four continents. If you are interested in a career at Workiva, you can connect with Ben Lopez on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Workiva
Workiva was founded to transform the way people manage and report business data with various collaborators, data sources, documents, and spreadsheets. Today, people all over the world use their platform to seamlessly orchestrate data among their systems and applications for transparent and trusted connected reporting and compliance. At Workiva, they are innovative in everything they do—from how they build their software, to how they serve their customers, to how they treat their employees.