It took me about 15 years to understand the value of showing up authentically at work.
I wore pants every day to work from 2006 to 2007. I was a young woman on wall street, and thought that I needed to look like one of the guys to make it. I made sure my heels weren’t too high (if I opted for them instead of my more conservative flats) and made sure my nails weren’t too loud. I did wear makeup – which I like to think of as war paint these days – following an etiquette and professional training course put on by our bulge bracket bank prepping us in what was expected of their professionals.
For years I thought that working harder and proving that I was exceptional based on sales closes would get me to the more senior roles. But it didn’t.
Fast forward to today where I’ve made several jumps in my career to find real alignment with what I wanted to do, and to work in ways that better overlapped with my skills superpowers. I’ve developed professional confidence in addition to figuring out what to wear (which was dubbed ‘European hipster’ by the partner at the private equity shop I worked at in San Francisco) and how to execute with excellence.
A lot of people talk about issues surrounding lack of diversity within companies and management teams these days. As a woman with experience across various male-dominated industries from wall street to growth tech I can tell you that issues surrounding diversity aren’t just about who is in the room, but it scales to management, investors, and board room profiles.
There are now mandates requiring diversity on boards. But how can you make the leap?
First, where are you in your career? If you’re an individual from a diverse background or women-identifying, securing a solid mentor and mapping out your professional development path may be key to advancing your career. Organic mentorship doesn’t just happen for all of us, so being intentional to ensure you get good insight around career pathing is critical. Our community meets regularly to support you through mentorship and skill development in areas critical to your professional success.
One you’ve skill developed and nailed down your professional superpowers, you can start to explore board opportunity. You can start with something smaller like your HOA board or a non-profit organization.
Looking to step into more learning and development before the board seat? Why not explore the investing side to get on a cap table. This is another great way to get involved. You may even be able to leverage your investor check to secure an advisory or board seat in the process.
While early-stage investing is a risky asset class, there are ways to play with smaller sums of money and it can be a fantastic learning and networking experience, if not hugely rewarding on the financial front. Listen in here for a panel discussion with a handful of CO-based early-stage investors speaking to the basics.
Looking to level up your professional confidence, mentorship, or salary? We’d love to meet you.
Please note that this article has not yet been reviewed by our editor.
Natalie Levy is the founder and lead mentor at She’s Independent.
Passionate about pushing boundaries and being independent from a young age, Natalie holds a BSE of Industrial Engineering and minor in Mathematics graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of Michigan. She has held roles in derivatives trading at Citigroup, enterprise data sales and operations at numerous technology businesses including Bloomberg and early stage ventures. She led business development efforts for private equity investor Turn/River Capital which was focused around SaaS and go-to-market optimizations. She currently resides in Boulder with her loving rescue pup Bina and operates in a fractional executive capacity alongside staying active in early stage growth businesses as an investor and advisor.
Following the loss of her mother to suicide in January 2019, Natalie launched She’s Independent while she transitioned from corporate roles to a more entrepreneurial and balanced lifestyle. She grew through the loss and continues on her healing journey to discover what is authentically aligned and enjoys tapping into her professional superpowers that also highlight self-awareness and personal growth. Through She’s Independent, Natalie offers coaching and mentorship from professional confidence and salary negotiation to business strategy, including go-to-market and fundraising.
She is actively navigating advisory and board seats.