Taking up space
The main highlight for me this week was going to the J.P. Morgan office in London for the Tab’s Future 100 event.
— Pauline P. Narvas (@paulienuh) 8 May 2018
Last month, I was nominated and shortlisted for the list that celebrates the most influential female students across the UK. It was such an honour to be nominated in the first place alongside so many incredible women (you can view the list and read their bios here.) I was overwhelmed by the support during the voting process, I still can’t believe that I finished off at 5th place nationally and 1st locally with 3,129 votes!
I’m super thankful for everyone who voted and continues to support the work I do online, in STEM communities and beyond. This marks my 4th recognition award this year so far, my heart is so full! It is super humbling and motivating to keep doing what I do. 🙏🏻
In addition to meeting some boss ladies in their field and celebrating everyone’s achievements at their university, the day included some inspiring talks from women in senior positions at J.P. Morgan and a special guest skills session with Deborah Frances-White. You might know of Deborah from her podcast, “The Guilty Feminist”. These are my main take away messages from her talk:
The best chance of inclusion is to assume that you are part of it
When we were younger, it was so much easier to go into a room and just include ourselves. You didn’t really care about anything but playing with other kids! In the “real world”, we often don’t assume inclusion and it’s much more difficult to self-include – especially if you’re not from the dominant group e.g. a Women of Colour.
Deborah advised us to assume inclusion just as we had when we were kids on the playground! From personal experience, it’s difficult to “just assume inclusion” and definitely requires confidence but this has made me be more mindful to apply this in future situations to see how it plays out 🤷🏻♀️
Public speaking is the best act of self-inclusion
I loved this part of the skills session with Deborah – I picked up some great tips to apply to my next speaking gig. Take notes!
- Put weight on your front foot and open yourself towards the audience. Putting weight on your back foot puts you in a more anxious position.
- If you feel fear (mental), you will do the fear (it translates to your physicality – you start wanting to hide) – so cut the loop! Start with your physicality – make yourself taller, walk around. You are control of your own body! This allows your mind to follow and start to think that, “yes, I can do this. Yes, I am awesome!”
- Move purposely – your movements should have a beginning and an end. This relates once again to confidence.
- Don’t hide behind furniture or slides. People remember people, not slides.
- Take up more space! This was a common theme, especially a call out to all the women and other socially excluded groups.
Reflecting on my previous speaking gigs in the past, I can definitely see how fear takes over (especially at the start), the feeling that I’m prey to the audience and the lack of control of my body. Going to give myself credit though, my last talk definitely showed an improvement in my first few talks where I felt like I was in much more control (even stepping out into the audience a few times!) I’m excited to be applying what I learnt from this session to future presentations.
On bringing value from a connected generation
A lot of younger people think that when entering a workplace, it is so important to just “fit in”: do everything as you’re told – that means following the processes and the “how it’s always been done” procedures even if there are efficient ways to do things. People (especially women/people of colour) tend to hide away from opening up new ideas because of the fear that it any failures would be their fault. They’re already the “different one” and don’t want to stand out anymore.
Deborah reminded us to take advantage of our diversity and to not be afraid to bring in our more connected and Gen-Z knowledge into an industry. It is valuable! So next time, speak up about ideas and challenge and question processes! That’s where innovation begins.
Advice for current students and fresh graduates from female leaders at J.P. Morgan
Senior women from J.P. Morgan delivered a fascinating panel talk specifically about their career journey and advice for current and graduating students stepping out into the real world. Here are a few of my favourite qualities mentioned and general advice:
- Constant hunger for learning different things – it doesn’t have to be work-related! Anything you learn is always an addition to your personality.
- The ability to change challenges into opportunities instead of being frustrated by the process.
- Being a self-starter i.e. having ambition and motivation to succeed with little to no direction!
- You don’t have to be 100% ready for an opportunity – say yes! You will learn along the way.
- If something doesn’t scare you, don’t do it. Feeling the fear almost certainly always leads to growth.
- Don’t shy away from talking about your achievements, more women need to be openly speaking about their milestones! Never forget to pack yourself on the back.
“Inclusion is more than just an invite to the party but is also to be asked to dance.”
The speakers not only empowered me to take up space, unapologetically and to use my diverse background (not just in my ethnicity but also degree and interests) to my advantage but also gave me the resources (such as networking with the Tab, JP Morgan, the other wonderful ladies on the list) to continue making an impact in my professional life and beyond!
Can I just also quickly say? These ladies are incredible. Definitely, check out what they’ve been doing – I’ve spent the last few days connecting with them on socials and can confirm they are all daily hustlers and people to watch. Connecting with them has reminded me how important your network truly is! The future is female, the future is bright. ✨
I’m very grateful to have been included on the list, welcomed with open arms to this #bossladies community. Thanks again to the Tab for organising and J.P Morgan for sponsoring the event! It’s been a blast. Now let’s continue taking up space in the world with our ideas, impact and inventions – because we can. 💪🏼