Merisa K. - Chief Financial Officer, Stanley Security Europe
Tenure at Stanley Black & Decker: 4.5 years
Location: United Kingdom
Personal Motto: Some opportunities only come once…seize them!
Please comment on your experiences as a woman working and finding success in your industry/function.
My first job out of college was an FMP (Financial Management Program Trainee) in the Refrigeration Plant of GE Appliances in Louisville, KY. It was a big change from the campus of Boston College and the Northeast. Very early on I had the opportunity to work for some incredible GE finance leaders who coached me and provided invaluable experiences for skill building and leadership learning. I recall a few simple pieces of advice early on from female leaders which really helped me set myself apart. (1) Dress for the job you want, not the job you have - it sounds silly, but always putting forth your best first impression is important whether it's yourself, that PowerPoint your building, the email you are writing. Every first impression is an opportunity to build your brand and be seen in the light of the job you want, not just the role you have. (2) Never leave a meeting without making your voice heard - the point here was simple, but it holds true. My male boss at the time was worried I would "blend in" with the suits in the room if I didn't speak up. What I didn't realize was the benefits were far beyond standing out... I was more confident in myself, polished in speaking up, and people took notice to my work product. Those two simple points, along with great mentors and supporters along the way (men and women) really helped me shape very early the success I've seen later in my career. Now I am trying to do the same for early career talent in our organization.
If you could go back and give yourself advice as a college student knowing what you know now, what would it be?
To embrace failure as part of the path to success. I've come to realize that the growth, the learning, and the achievements comes as a result of the mistakes and the challenges we have to overcome. Our paths are paved with these opportunities for reflection and strength building. I discovered my greatest strengths, courage, and confidence when breaking through walls of adversity. There's a great quote from Winston Churchill, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."
What has been your biggest career risk?
Leaving General Electric after 11+ years to join Stanley Black & Decker was quite the leap. Leaving the familiarity of the culture and the job was nerve racking, but I've never looked back. This is such an incredible Company and I'm humbled to be a part of the journey we are on and to work with the best talent in the industry!
How do you juggle personal and professional life without sacrificing one for the other?
This question is always tough to answer. I believe that each of us has to define "balance" for ourselves. Too often we impose our point of view on others, but I believe that if you love what you do and you honor what you love and value then that is balance. I love my job. I also absolutely adore being a mother, a daughter, and a friend. It’s never easy to feel as though you are balancing, but I try by valuing time less and the experiences more. Weekends are for family and a time to recharge and do the things I love outside the office. I almost always disconnect completely. Weekdays are for work and I work Monday – Friday with great intensity because I feel great passion for what I do. And that’s okay! There’s no one recipe to balance and I try to give my teams the room to define balance for themselves and support them anyway I can.
What is your advice for an aspiring financier?
In the words of Ben Franklin, "you can do anything you set your mind to." Never give up before you begin pursuing your dreams. Surround yourself with people who coach, mentor, and teach you early on in your career. Be a sponge and find ways to stand out from the crowd. Seize every opportunity because they may only come once. Know your worth and always stay true to you!
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