Monday, April 4, 2011

An Interview with Janet Graham of

Last week I was honoured to be featured on, a wonderful blog founded by Janet Graham. Janet, who worked on Bay Street from the early 1980s until the mid 1990s, is passionate about telling the inspiring stories of women like herself --women who ventured into a work environment that was dominated by men, and were incredibly successful.

I had a great interview with Janet and this week she posted the first in a series of blog posts covering the highlights.

Here’s the first question and answer from the interview:

JG: What is your impression of the difference between the experience of a male and female in the securities industry today?

JB: “Well the best way I could probably put that would be that I found that women made better sales people and, in fact, the women that traded for me were extremely good at trading as well. I found that the essential difference between men and women was that women had a great ability to actually build friendships and relationships with their clients. If you think about it, at the end of the day, if we’re all selling pretty well the same commodity, what makes someone pick that button versus someone else’s button? I believe price is a red herring. People don’t do business on the basis of price. Women were far more adept at doing that, both with females and with males. Also, I think that a big difference was that they didn’t have the same sort of ego. Or if they did have the ego they were actually able to put it in check and they didn’t have that same sort of over-aggressive, competitive, “I have to win, you have to lose” mind set. They were more collaborative. They were more compromising in their approach to people.

I think that with some people competitiveness works well but if you take a broad cross-section of clients and people that you interact with in the industry, there’s no question that being more collaborative and more compromising makes you far more effective at what you do. All of the women that ever worked with me who I had hired or inherited were all extremely good at that. In fact, the only ones that weren’t very good at that were the women who weren’t being women, who were trying to be men, and I was like “don’t be like a man” because [men are] not very good at this. They’re not as good as you at doing this and bringing what being a woman brings to the table, to tell you the truth. But a few of them just couldn’t get that, right? They just couldn’t get that.”

JB: “I think the other thing about women that I think distinguishes them in the industry is that they, in general, think multi-dimensionally in terms of their interactions with people, whereas men are very linear in their relationships with people; it’s very sort of cut and dried. The best example I have about someone thinking like that is when I brought in the Dale Carnegie program for the entire trading floor because I wanted people to improve not just their presentation skills but their interpersonal skills with everybody in the room and outside it. And while everyone went to their Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday sessions, it was a woman who said, “hey, why don’t we invite our clients?” and she reached out and invited her clients. Can you imagine the impact of sixteen weeks of seeing your senior clients up there telling you their problems, their woes, their ups and their downs? In the end, who are they going to do business with? It’s that kind of thing that I think really highlights the difference between men and women.”

To read Janet’s own thoughts check out the full original post. You can read more about her story and philosophy here.

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