Why do male executives in finance and other professions earn more and get greater recognition than most female leaders? Typically men are more supported by senior-level executives and get promoted faster. On the other hand, women often gravitate to mentoring-style partnerships that provide them with encouragement and advice. They are less likely to take risks and elevate their own profile. However, this situation is changing as more women leaders lean in and ask for clear sponsorship and support from their company leaders. One resource many female executives turn to is Edith Hamilton (Executive Coach for CFOs, NEXT New Growth) who is equipping finance leaders to drive change in the C-suite. She equips Chief Financial Officers to deliver the growth, process improvements and profitability that drive high multiples.
“I love the stories that numbers tell,” says Edith. Financial statements unfold insights about the ups and downs of the organization. As Edith found an affinity for numbers and loved solving puzzles, she became a finance analyst in the early years of her work-life. Over the course of her corporate career, she reported to 8 different CFOs–and from some of them, she learned how to be an effective financial leader. From others, she learned what not to do, and how not to be.
Given Edith’s skills, experience in the healthcare sector, and recommendations from others, an executive search consultant who represents a large private equity firm reached out to her to see if she would coach a female CFO of a healthcare company in the Los Angeles area. This is how Edith’s journey began as a CFO coach; she later became accredited by the International Coach Federation after a 15-month training, coaching and mentoring process of her own.
During a recent conversation with Mirror Review, Edith elaborated on her professional journey and the establishment of her organization – Next New Growth. Following are some snippets from the conversation:
1. Could you please share with us the most interesting story about what brought you into the finance field?
I actually started as an English major in college! I loved literature, and I have an affinity for words as much as for numbers. Back in college, I began working part-time at an investment banking firm, where I learned to use a spreadsheet to enter data and create formulas to add valuable insights and statistics. Excel helped me to understand, organize, sort, and filter my world. Suddenly, algebra had practical applications for me, and the dry statistical tools I was then learning in college became meaningful sources of new insights for my boss, my colleagues and our clients. This part-time job during my college days inspired me to pivot and look toward a career in the finance field.
2. What do you think makes you stand out in the competitive finance sector as a CFO Coach?
For one thing, I’ve “been there, done that”. This is part of what makes me unique in the world of CFO coaching. In the real world, I have walked a mile in their shoes. Additionally, I am the only CFO coach who uses a technology-based platform to supplement the value of our weekly coaching sessions. It helps finance leaders rewrite their brains for peak performance in relation to their CEO, their Board, their peers and direct reports. They can learn to identify and silence their greatest internal critics to attain success beyond what they could have without these specific tools. This is what gives top performers an edge, while also increasing job satisfaction – and increased ability to manage the overwhelm that’s common to executives.
3. What are the exclusive services/solutions offered for CFOs by NEXT New Growth?
Our company offers executive coaching services for private equity and public companies that want to deliver growth, process improvements, and cost savings. Some focus areas for us include:
- CFO Coaching: We design customized plans together based on the discussions with the private equity Operating Partner(s), the CEO, and the CFO. It includes intercepting certain patterns or behavioral issues that are tripping you up, broadening your vision, improving team performance, enhancing leadership presence, and driving KPIs (key performance indicators).
- Executive Coaching and Leadership Development: NEXT provides leadership coaching for COOs, CXOs, SVPs, and other senior executives. This includes pre-coaching and post-coaching 360 assessments that help identify the greatest opportunities for improvement, coaching sessions that increase flexibility and versatility as a leader, and even direct mentoring.
- Tech-enabled Executive Mind Fitness Program: NEXT uses an app developed by the Positive Intelligence group to extend the effectiveness of its weekly coaching using a smartphone. The app strengthens core muscles aroundcuriosity, connection, creativity, emotional intelligence, and enables you to take clear, laser-focused action based on your values combined with data.
- CFO First 90-Days Coaching: This strategic transition plan helps you achieve alignment with the strategy, structure, systems, skills, and culture of your new firm. It also enables you to build cooperative, trusting relationships that accelerate your integration plans and help you deliver a few important “quick wins” that are important to your leaders and that solidify your impact.
4. What responsibilities do you shoulder? What are your notable awards and achievements as a CFO Coach?
My main focus is to help other finance executives find their own path as I train them to be versatile, effective CFOs. As a leader, I create value at the intersection of private equity and C-level leadership. I combine my background in finance, operations, process improvement, and business development with executive coaching and consulting skills groomed by top coaches in the industry. In this way, with tools I have gathered or built over the course of 25+ years in the corporate finance world, I help CFOs and other leaders who have increased expectations, expanding responsibilities, or new challenges to build additional key skills that produce personal, team, and organizational success. I have been featured in Fortune magazine, the CFO Brew, and one of my clients, the CFO of a $2 billion company was recognized as CFO of the Year in2021.
5. What are the toughest challenges that women face in the finance sector?
The toughest challenges women face include the expectation that they have to act like “one of the boys”. A lack of female mentors is a limiting factor, and the time women spend out of the workforce due to motherhood, can impact the momentum of advancement for some. Taking maternity leave has historically affected women’s earnings, promotion potential, and ultimately future careers. But not in all cases. And that is increasingly changing for the better.
6. What is your take on ‘feminism’? What measures can support women’s empowerment?
I think that ‘feminism’ is an outdated term. I always gained support from male CFOs I worked with. 7 out of 8 CFOs were males and everyone has contributed and engaged in my career path. As female executives, the main thing we need to do is to be clear on our values, and pick good bosses. Avoid working for a jerk. And if you find yourself in that situation, go get yourself a new role with a better mentor. Someone who will admire and appreciate your skills and contributions and who is willing to be your ally, and your advocate at the next level up the chain.
7. How is your life beyond the cabin? How do you ensure work-life balance?
I have a considerably big family, a large circle of friends and professional connections. As a follower of Christ, I am active as a group leader in my community at Journey of Faith in Manhattan Beach CA. I have learned that we have to MAKE time for the things that are important to us. In my case, I created a list of the key relationships I want to nurture and literally book appointments to meet with each of them monthly, quarterly in my personal life. I literally follow a checklist that shows me if I’ve not connected with someone in a while, and maybe it’s time to call them while I’m driving, or walking or such. I believe you need to schedule the important but not urgent stuff FIRST, and then allow the less important daily stuff be like stream that flows around those large rocks in the middle of the river.
8. Being a person of influence, what is your message for budding women leaders who wish to make a mark in the finance sector?
- Look for opportunities in your company to get involved with operations and with P&L Management opportunities to understand the business and build your credibility.
- Build relationships with leaders who can be your advocates within the organization.
- Identify the ways in which you have a tendency to self-sabotage your own success. You can learn more about that here.
- Learn how to communicate the value you add to the company, and speak for yourself quickly and confidently.
Also Read: The Top 10 Leadership Coaches of 2023