Interview: Andrea Cid

Claudia Vera, Co-Copy Editor

Have you experienced any challenges in the workplace due to your gender? 

I was once asked this question by a British friend of mine while working overseas, and my response was “Actually, I’ve had a more difficult time adapting to the British work culture than the male work culture.”  I wanted to make the point that while I have experienced structural and personal challenges at work, the gender issues are not as insurmountable as they once were.  Personally I haven’t experienced serious harassment, although I have friends who have.  For me, the challenges are subtler.  Finding a leadership style that I am comfortable with, and that is also accepted within a (male) corporate structure has been my biggest challenge.  Being straightforward and aggressive is often seen as “male” and can rub some the wrong way.  The key (and this applies to men and women alike) is to modify your communication style depending on the audience, while still being true to yourself.  Some people appreciate directness. Others prefer a more collaborative approach. Learning how to lead different types of people is fundamental.

If you have experienced challenges, what did you do to overcome them?

Humor is always my first resort. If that doesn’t work, I get serious.  I had a boss who constantly stared at my legs during meetings. So the next time he did I smiled and asked him “Do you like my skirt? I got it at Zara on sale.” He turned bright red, clearly caught, but laughed.  The joke put me in a stronger position during the meeting as he became flustered.  I was able to get him to change his behavior without offending him, and use it to my advantage.

Do you believe that gender plays a part in the treatment of those in business?

If so, how?  There are many large and small ways that gender still affects women in business. You are expected to look more polished, you are expected to be more organized, better at note taking or event planning. As a junior person you will be expected to do grunt work, but as a woman, you need to push back when appropriate. When an associate once asked me to make coffee for him, I point blank told him I had no idea how to use the machine, “Sorry, bud, I only drink tea.”  Of course I know how to make coffee, but he wasn’t asking the male analysts to do this for him.

What does female empowerment mean to you? 

Your education is the key to your empowerment.  As you get older your alumni networks will be the source of your contacts and opportunities.  No matter what life throws at you, your education cannot be taken away from you.

What would be one thing you would say to a girl who wanted to pursue a job in your field? 

Don’t limit yourself.  I highly recommend reading Sandberg’s “Lean In” which does an incredible job of pointing out how women can sabotage themselves.  We have enough challenges without creating more inside our heads.

On a more practical note, when I started working my father gave me three pieces of advice that I think apply to anyone: 1) Always get to work before your boss and leave after. As a junior person, the only thing you have to give is your hard work. You don’t have connections, you don’t have experience, but you can work harder than others. 2) Always be extra nice to the secretaries. They are the gatekeepers and know everything that is happening in the office. 3) Always remember that you are in a professional environment. Whether you are in a meeting, having lunch with clients or going to a company party, you should remember you are working.

What do you do to empower young girls in your community? 

I’ve recently started volunteering for Lotus House’s youth program, which focuses on homeless young women.