Breaking Through: How a Career Change or New Venture Can Take Women Higher

by Gloria Martinez

Before you put your name in the hat for a promotion or start applying for open positions, it’s important to take stock of what you want in a career, where you want to be, and how you are going to get there.

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The number of women in leadership roles is increasing across the country, but there is still a long way to go for balance, equality, and opportunity in the workplace. This is especially true for women working in finance, a profession still highly dominated by men. Let’s take a look at two ways that women can elevate their careers in finance— i.e. planning a career change and starting your own business.

Planning your next big career move

It’s time to move up or move on. You’ve probably known this for a while, but only now have come to a place where you are starting to actively consider next steps. Before you put your name in the hat for a promotion or start applying for open positions, it’s important to take stock of what you want in a career, where you want to be, and how you are going to get there.

Talking to your company’s HR team or your direct supervisor about what opportunities you would be qualified for (even if those positions aren’t currently available) will let them know that you want to take on more responsibility and are looking for a role with more leadership. If you are happy at your current employer and want to stay on, it’s important to find out if they think you are promotable. If you determine that it is best to look for external opportunities – reconnecting with references, obtaining new skills, and updating your resume will aid you in your search.

Reconnect with your references and professional network. Give your references a heads up that you are opening yourself up to new job prospects and that they may hear from your potential employers. This is also a good time to ask them if they know of any interesting opportunities. 

Get a new certification that helps boost your resume. If you are looking for more leadership-level jobs, take an online course in management. For those who want to lead departments and teams, a certification in project management could be useful. Try to think of soft skills that employers crave, but that might not come standard with a finance degree or experience.

Update your resume, CV, and social media profiles. Heighten your online privacy settings so that potential employers only see what you want them to see. As you peruse job boards, look for buzzwords that you can add to your resume or use to showcase your expertise in your cover letters.

Start your own business

When evaluating your next career move, you might find that you are ready for a more entrepreneurial role. You know what it takes to secure major financial wins. As a chief financial officer or vice president of finance, you have led both individuals and organizations to financial victory. Now, it’s time to lead yourself.

For female leaders in finance, who have the market cornered on self-discipline and intrinsic motivation, starting a business is a fantastic way to take the next step in your career. This is especially true for professionals who are maxed out at their current companies or are looking for more purpose and meaning in their work. Women financial leaders bring unique perspectives to the world of small business. But it will be a leap of faith— with a lot of long hours and hard work. Make sure you do it right by thinking about these considerations.

If you’ve had a lot of big wins in your career, you could see success by becoming a financial consultant. Many companies and organizations— large, medium, and small— look to financial consultants to help them make sound decisions about growth and vision. A website and a strong LinkedIn presence can help you showcase your talents in project management and your success as a thought leader in finance.

If you were in sales, you can take all that experience and put it to good use by starting an e-commerce business. Start out slowly and simply by experimenting with the dropshipping model. With dropshipping, you use a third party to store inventory, which means you don’t have to store and ship items, translating to lower overhead for your business.

Look into ways to offset start-up costs. There are many grants and free services targeting women business owners that you can take advantage of. There are also many small business loans that provide lower percentage rates and flexible repayment options for women. There are a lot of other options for financing a business to look into as well, from securing a business line of credit to building capital with a term loan.

Put some dollars into marketing your business. You will have competitors no matter how strong your skillset or how nuanced your niche, so it’s important that you show potential customers how your business is different— and better. Look into user experience-inspired web design, think about connecting your payment platform to PayPal, and put some thought and effort into product packaging.

No matter who you are or what you decide, you’ve worked hard in your career to get where you are. You’ve sacrificed and celebrated on this journey, which is why you have found yourself with a leadership role and a senior-level job title— it’s also why you want more. As a woman in finance, it’s important to have a plan in place that inspires you, drives you, and challenges you to break those glass ceilings.

Gloria Martinez is the founder of