A mentor once told me that feeling uncomfortable is a good indicator of opportunity. Throughout my somewhat unconventional eight-year career at Capco, opportunities have emerged around every corner, and I am here to tell you that the discomfort – and opportunities – are real.
I joined Capco as part of our Associate Talent Program (ATP), having just graduated from Barnard College with a degree in environmental science –- not exactly a clear path to financial services. My associate class was an impressive group, comprised of MBAs and economics majors who oozed confidence and credibility – how had I slipped through the cracks? With each passing day of our two-week training, my imposter syndrome reared its ugly head, reminding me I did not belong and that I would never be staffed to a project. It drove me to work twice as hard, researching industry trends late into the night and sending a truly embarrassing number of introductory emails to account management. Well – go figure – I was the first of my ATP class to be staffed and have been staffed ever since.
I have had a unique experience at Capco, as I have been staffed at the same client throughout my eight-year tenure. To be clear, I have worked with different client stakeholders, across various projects and businesses, but the client – a top tier global Wealth Management firm – has been singular. Early in my career, after “graduating” from ATP with my promotion to Consultant, I was urged by well-meaning peers and coaches to consider other client engagements. It would be difficult to continue my climb up the consulting ladder, they advised, if I remained on the same client and domain – Wealth Management -– for too long.
For those who have been in this situation – receiving feedback from individuals you admire and yet choosing not to implement it -– you will know how uncomfortable and risky it can feel. Though there were instances in my career where I have questioned and, at times, regretted my decision not to heed that advice, my promotions to Senior, as well as Principal Consultant, were founded on the relationships and sales that resulted from my client tenure, proving that the unconventional and uncomfortable path can be an opportunity in itself.
Earlier in this blog, I quoted a mentor who urged me to find the opportunities in uncomfortable situations, embracing changes that do not initially present as “a good thing.” This mentor, a leader at Capco for several years, was in many ways a cornerstone to my Capco foundation, and I leaned on him heavily for support and advice throughout my career. You will not be surprised to learn how uncomfortable it felt when he left the firm this year, leaving a gaping hole in what had been an eight-year mentor relationship. Unsurprisingly, I was not the only one now finding herself with one less advisor in her network. Surprisingly, many of the others were now approaching me for guidance, forging new relationships that would not have resulted if not for that departure. The uncomfortable feeling that comes with a change in leadership, as daunting as it may be, opens the door for others – myself included –- to step-up and take a seat at the table.
Which brings me to possibly the most uncomfortable role I have held throughout my career, and that is of a female leader in Wealth Management. Leadership and – more broadly – management, are funny things, as you are never really “trained” for them, and yet they are arguably the most important aspects of a consultant’s career. Being intrusted with not only your own career development, but also that of others, is a huge responsibility. Couple this with the immense pressure our industry puts on senior women to serve as shining examples of “you CAN have it all!” for more junior, female-identifying employees, and… it is overwhelming.
While I cannot yet advise how to push through this particular uncomfortable feeling (I still face it every day), I can say that leading with honesty, integrity, and empathy goes a long way. I struggle to “do it all” every day, and often find I need to put down one of the many balls I juggle to ensure I do not drop any others. But the funny thing about acknowledging my own limits and (continuing my juggling metaphor) putting down a ball or two, is that there is always someone there to pick it up and take the opportunity to learn and grow herself.