4 simple ways women can advance their careers

Avani Desai is the president of Schellman & Company.
Avani Desai

Avani Desai is president of Schellman & Company, a Top 100 CPA firm specializing in cybersecurity.
As a woman of color, she says she’s eager to share advice and support emerging career women.
For young professionals, Desai says building a well-rounded CV and joining mentorship programs is key.
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Avani Desai insists that women in the workforce do not need to choose between becoming a wife and a mother or having a successful career.
With two children and a husband with a demanding career, Desai was determined to find the flexibility required to continue advancing as a professional as her family grew – which meant stepping away from her position as a director of risk consulting.
"I started working for KPMG right after college and left after 10 years when my firstborn turned one," she said.
Though Desai loved working in her field, she sought out a role that would let her prioritize motherhood as she progressed through her career. Schellman & Company, a niche CPA firm specializing in cybersecurity auditing, provided that opportunity.
She’s proud of her accomplishments, but Desai acknowledges that her career story is an anomaly.
"Someone told me that I’m the only female minority running a Top 100 CPA firm and that devastated me," she said. "I cannot believe that there aren’t more women out there to look up to."
In the accounting profession, women – particularly women of color – are underrepresented as leading executives and partners. In the tech industry, female representation in senior leadership positions is just as unbalanced.
"We have an obligation and an opportunity to really help young women expand their scope," said Desai.
Desai believes that girls should gain exposure to creative and critical thinking tasks as early as primary school. For women currently pursuing higher education or professional advancement, Desai offers four pieces of advice.
1. Choose academic programs with a critical eye to create a well-rounded CVWith technology rapidly changing the workspace of every business, Desai believes that the key to leadership success isn’t as cut and dry as obtaining an MBA.
Instead, she suggests that students understand both the technological and operations needs of a business.
"When you ask board members what keeps them up at night, a survey from the National Association of Corporate Directors says it’s cybersecurity. You should understand how systems work together and how they impact the business."
She suggests developing a unique understanding of technology and business principles, such as minoring in a business-oriented subject like financial accounting while majoring in computer sciences, or majoring in economics or strategic management while securing a CPA licensure or audit certification alongside cybersecurity and privacy law certifications.
2. Seek out mentorsDesai is a huge proponent of seeking out guidance from leaders in the field. She recommends that young women in their pre-collegiate years get involved with Girls Who Code, while college students and young professionals should seek out mentorship from members of the Executive Women’s Forum.
3. Take advantage of free online resources to strengthen your skillsetWith the pandemic even greater obstacles for women in the workforce, Desai encourages female professionals to take advantage of the increase in online educational resources available to the public.
She recommends using time previously dedicated to the office commute to take courses through LinkedIn Learning, the International Association of Privacy Professionals, AWS, OCI, and Microsoft.
4. Create a more inclusive workplace through flexibility, understanding, and vital resourcesFinally, those women who are in leadership roles can instantly provide female team members with support by understanding the challenges women in the workforce face.
This includes allowing female caretakers to work flexible hours, providing and promoting mental health resources for all employees, sponsoring women to elevate their careers, and providing access to career coaches.
"Don’t lose women in the workforce when parenting happens just because society thinks that’s what should happen," she said.
Read the original article on Business Insider

Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/best-career-advice-woc-women-professionals-cpa-president-2021-7

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