My first job out of college was a sales role at a business finance company. After studying business and entrepreneurship, I was allured by the potential to make a lot of money and take on a challenging industry. So I made sales calls from 6.30am to 7.30pm five days a week as the only female employee amongst a team of all male former athletes.
At the end of the first year I was the number-one producer in the firm and still the youngest and only female. Every time the company made a new class of hires, all the men received one to three trainees and I was never given any. I stepped up and asked why this was the case and was told that the reason was plain and simple: you are a girl, we hire men, and men don’t respect women as their leaders.
At wit's end with my situation, I went to the CEO of the company and told him if he didn’t give me a team of salespeople in the next hire, I’d be quitting. I crossed my fingers; but instead of waiting patiently and hopelessly for that day to come, I took on hiring on my own and actively started recruiting women.
I did eventually get my own team of trainees and continued to be the top performer in the company. I learned the importance of standing up, getting aggressive and asking for what you want. As a businessperson and especially as a minority, this is the key to overcoming obstacles and being heard and valued.
Now, years later, I decided to build a product for women by women. I try to focus on women not only as a viable market but as capable, confident leaders.