Top Women CFOs Teach Local Women How to be Successful Leaders

by Twelve Points Team

On a chilly night in early December, our Co-Founder and Principal Francesca Federico co-hosted the second event in the C-Suite Series with Tomorrow’s Women TODAY, a local non-profit organization dedicated to fostering women into leaders in our community. The evening featured networking over refreshments followed by a discussion panel made up of some of the most successful women Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) in the Boston Metro. Moderated by Tomorrow’s Women TODAY’s President and Founder, Lauren Pimpare, the panel provided an honest look at how to succeed in business.

One of the central themes of the evening’s discussion was how being a woman in a leadership position affected the panel members both personally and professionally. “As women, we have to be firm and maintain a sense of humor,” stated Kathy Boyce, CFO of the Massachusetts Dental Society. “I have never let them see me cry [at work]. I’m not afraid to cry,” she continued, “but I’m just not going do it.” Robin Feeney, CFO of StrataDX™, advised the audience to “be unapologetic.” Karen Cambray, CFO of Cartera Commerce, agreed. “Don’t ever apologize,” she said. “Men don’t do that – not for interrupting, speaking up or expressing an opinion.”

In terms of achieving work/life balance, Kim Dodge, CFO of Connance, said she believes women can have it all – just not all at the same time. Kathy followed this by saying, “Women are most efficient in the workplace, and we get the job done. But you have to make choices, you have to be flexible and roll with it.” Karen pointed out that it’s important to have interests outside of work, and all the panel members agreed that it’s every woman’s responsibility to take time for herself in order to maintain that balance. Robin had kids in her mid-thirties and took a five-year break from the workplace in order to stay home with them. “Make your early years [at work] count!” she advised.

An attribute all the panel members agreed was essential for making it to a C-level position is directness. “You have to be comfortable advocating for yourself,” stated Kim. Karen added, “You have to be confident enough to call people on their b.s. And it’s important to develop strong working relationships with your team.” Having the right skills and background to get you a seat at the table is just as important. “Credibility is key,” Pat Deware, CFO of Selventa, stated. “That’s why I got an MBA and a master’s in taxation.”  Kim agreed, “You can’t shortcut experience.”

The entire evening was informative and fun. During a lively Q&A with audience members, the panel encouraged the women in attendance to pursue their professional ambitions. “Keep pushing yourself, and reach beyond your comfort zone,” Karen advised. “Step up and figure it out! Consider getting a mentor.” Robin stressed that you need to work within the system to get what you want, but sometimes you need to get creative.  For more information on the C-Suite event series and Tomorrow’s Women TODAY, please contact Francesca Federico by email at or call 978-318-9503. To get an idea of what this event was like, check out our photo album on Facebook and view our short video.

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