Three Skills Women in SOX and SEC Reporting Need to Advance Their Careers

October 28, 2016

Mentors, networking and strategic planning were the focus of a panel discussion about career advancement at a gathering of 45 women accounting executives who work in corporate financial reporting. They are responsible for regulatory compliance and corporate governance, which is not nearly as sleepy as it sounds.

“Are you kidding? I’m in the center of a global revolution,” quipped a Fortune 500 vice president. The revolution will determine how publicly held companies around the world view corporate governance and how they will comply with or explain themselves to their regulators, their shareholders and a long list of social stakeholders.

What’s most important to this audience of high achievers is that corporate reporting is desirable professional experience that can position a woman for a top finance job in a public company.

To get there, though, she will need to develop a new set of skills, said the organizer of the event.

“This is a new initiative for our group," said Rudy. "Supporting our members with programming that is relevant to their career advancement is an important part of our organization’s mission.”

If you ask a powerful woman executive about her career path, she is likely to attribute some of her success to an influential mentor. Alice Obermiller, who is the Head of Leadership Development at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, talked about how mentors are critical to the success of high-performing women. Women who have been mentored earn higher salaries and occupy more senior positions than women without mentors. For more senior women, mentors can help women build social capital by offering critical access to their networks.

There was a lively discussion around what to expect from a mentor relationship. Half the women in the audience had a mentor and most of these relationships were arranged through their employers. Alice was candid about the pendulum swinging to ‘over mentoring’ and encouraged the audience to accept that not all mentors will be a good fit. “Diplomatically end the relationship and move on,” she said.

Chryss Crockett, CFO and Senior VP of Operations at Astronics Armstrong Aerospace, shared her personal story from audit manager to the CFO’s office. She told the audience ". . . get strategic about planning for the job you want. You may need to change jobs to get the experience you need to advance your career to the next level, which makes networking and visibility all the more critical." Chryss reinforced the importance of mentors in her career. She talked about a particular mentor who helped her understand the dynamics of the C-suite and the boardroom and how to navigate a male-dominated environment.

"Networking can be time-consuming and uncomfortable, but it’s critical to a woman’s professional success," said Laurie Canning, Marketing Director at Brilliant, who made a presentation about how to effectively use Linkedin for professional networking and visibility. Brilliant, a sponsor of the Chicago chapter of the SEC and SOX professional groups, is one of the nation's largest and fastest-growing staffing firms in accounting and finance.

Only days before the Chicago networking event, the organization’s national sponsor Workiva, the leader in compliance reporting solutions, was named one of the 100 Best Workplaces for Women by Fortune magazine.


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