It’s no secret that women are often treated differently in the workplace. And that is especially the case in more male-dominated fields such as financial services.
It’s for that reason that Clare Scherrer, a partner at Goldman Sachs, advises young women to get in front of clients as soon as possible. The idea: To get past any preconceptions, and show off your ideas.
“One of the things I think is important for women to realize is that we all tend to judge a book by its cover until we start reading the book,” she said in a recent Q&A with Goldman Sachs podcast, Exchanges at Goldman Sachs.
Scherrer, who is global co-head of industrials in Goldman Sachs’ investment banking division, cited an example from her career when she had to do just that.
“I was flying to Milan to meet with an Italian client, and when we landed and we’re going through Customs and Immigration, my Italian male colleague got a phone call from the CEO who said,”You didn’t tell me Clare, who you’re bringing to the meeting, is a woman.”
Scherrer said the CEO was upset because he did not make reservations for their meeting at a fancy restaurant. But Scherrer made sure to illustrate her value proposition, and within 15 minutes the CEO forgot all about her being a woman.
“Isn’t that interesting that that’s what he was worried about? And we got to the company, we started the meeting at the cafeteria, eating sandwiches. Fifteen minutes into the meeting, he no longer was focused on me being a woman; he was focused on my content. He was focused on the fact that I actually knew the most about the topic he wanted to cover within the Goldman Sachs network, and the cover of the book didn’t matter; the content of the book is what mattered.”
That experience informs the advice Scherrer passes on to young women trying to make it in finance.
“So, when I’m advising young women, I tell them that the sooner and the more often they can talk in front of their clients and really deliver advice and judgments, the better,” she added.
“That’s the way that young women can really set themselves up to succeed.”