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Speaking Up and Getting What You're Worth, with Deepali Vyas

Speaking Up and Getting What You're Worth, with Deepali Vyas

Episode 15: Speaking Up and Getting What You're Worth, with Deepali Vyas

Research has shown that a diverse team leads to better business results. But to create gender diversity in a company, there first have to be diverse candidates seeking out new positions. Deepali Vyas, executive recruiter, search consultant and coach at Hedrick & Struggles, has seen first hand how women struggle to step up to the plate in their job search. In this episode, she talks to us about why women hesitate when applying for a higher position or asking for a raise or promotion, as well as lots of tips on how to best present yourself in an interview to show you’re not just a way to fill their diversity quota, but the best person for the job.

Episode Transcript

00:13 Kristy Wallace: Hello and welcome to the Ellevate Podcast. Thanks so much for listening to us this week. It's Kristy Wallace, here with Maricella. Hi, Maricella.

00:22 Maricella: Hi, Kristy. How's it going?

00:24 KW: So, I think I... We've talked about this. I do a terrible job saying your name. I apologize.


00:29 KW: Why don't you say it?

00:31 Maricella: You do a better job than a lot of people, but the real way to say my name is Maricella, which is...

00:36 KW: Yes, which is beautiful, when you say it.

00:37 Maricella: Thank you.


00:39 KW: Not so much when I say it and I'm sorry. It's the Jersey accent coming out. Yeah, there's some downside to being from Jersey, not many though. Go, Jersey! [chuckle] In this week's podcast, we are talking to Deepali Vyas. And Deepali is with Heidrick & Struggles, and she's my new best friend.

01:00 Maricella: She is awesome. She is very focused on recruiting for finance, on quants mostly, which is very interesting to me. But she's awesome. She's been a long-time member of Ellevate. And she spoke at an event last year, and I can tell you, the amount of information and secrets she gave to the audience, who wanted to get noticed for new jobs, was pretty impressive.

01:23 KW: Yeah, incredibly knowledgeable. And as you'll hear on this podcast, she talks about everything, from how to position yourself for job interviews, some excellent advice to job seekers. Really all-around, fantastic interview with so many good nuggets for everybody out there, regardless of where you are in your career. I know you have some good nuggets for us, as well, on user polls and data.

01:49 Maricella: Yeah. If you've been tuning into the podcast, as you know by now, we poll the Ellevate Network every week and get lots of great info from our membership. And so, some of the polls we have here, we asked them, "How have you gotten job interviews in the past?" And 64% of the women who answered this poll said that they've gotten their job interviews through personal and professional connections, so networking.

02:16 KW: Every job I've ever had, I've gotten through a personal connection.

02:19 Maricella: Me too, actually.

02:21 KW: The power of networking.

02:22 Maricella: That's it.

02:22 KW: You do not underestimate your network.

02:25 Maricella: Do it. Network. The other poll I have here is, "Should there be gender quotas for company boards?" And you know this has been a hot topic, especially...

02:34 KW: Sure.

02:35 Maricella: In Europe, where there's been a lot of those quotas being instituted. And interestingly enough, 59% of our members say, "Something needs to change, but quotas are not the right solution."

02:48 KW: Interesting.

02:49 Maricella: Yeah. 25% say, "Yes, absolutely." And 8% say, "Quotas will prevent the right candidate from being selected."

02:58 KW: That's interesting. No, I think we know the business case for diversity. Diverse thinking, diverse thought, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, veterans. There's many categories. That just yields to better decision making, to broader perspective on business, and your customers. There's no question. The research shows that diverse teams lead to better results. So, I don't know, why have a quota? It should just be what you do as a business, right?

03:32 Maricella: Absolutely. The point is, we know the business case, as you said. And if it's right, it's right, and you should do it. You shouldn't be forced to do it, but you will see for yourself, if your company wants to go through the diversity route, which we completely support and advocate for.

03:49 KW: Well, let's get to the interview and hear what Deepali has to say on this.


04:07 KW: So today, we're really excited to have Deepali with us from Heidrick & Struggles. Thanks so much for joining us.

04:12 Deepali Vyas: Thank you for having me.

04:14 KW: I wanted to start, 'cause not everyone understands the role of an executive recruiter. If you could just give me some insights. What's your day in the life? What are you working on?

04:25 DV: Sure.

04:25 KW: Tell me a little bit more about yourself.

04:27 DV: Sure. I always like to tell people to have a 30-second elevator pitch and I think it's...

04:33 KW: Yeah, good advice.

04:33 DV: Imperative to do. And for me, I'm an executive search consultant and coach. I advise clients in the financial services and technology sectors, large and small, on their recruiting needs and leadership development.

04:50 KW: Wow. That sounds really exciting, 'cause you're working with many different companies.

04:55 DV: Yes.

04:55 KW: And getting insights into their strengths, their weaknesses, and improvements.

05:01 DV: Absolutely. So we get a bird's eye view as to what is really going on with the organization, whether there's a need to... Them to explore talent outside for them to grow, what inflection point they're at, in terms of growth, if there is more of a cultural shift going on internally for them to seek outside counsel, help with succession planning, a whole host of things that we can help with.

05:29 KW: And do you have one major piece of advice that you're often giving?

05:35 DV: Well, I think there's a lot of do's and don'ts when you're thinking about interviewing, or if you're thinking about looking for a new job, or what your search strategy is going to be like. But I think my biggest advice to young people in the market, is to be very well read, and well read in the sense of having an opinion on what's going on with current events, or thinking about more of a macro perspective. Not everything revolves around just a very small, myopic segment of your day to day focus. And I think having a more macro perspective leads to richer conversations.

06:19 KW: Sure, I agree with that. How would you advise someone then, in terms of using that knowledge? Because sometimes, it's you need to have an opinion one way or another on the topic. What are your thoughts on that?

06:33 DV: Yeah, no, having an opinion is one thing, but I think the ability to engage in a thoughtful conversation is really the objective, where you're not sitting frozen in an interview setting, not having a topic of discussion. And I think that's where it's important to learn some of these interpersonal skills, and how you would be in a setting, and not being awkward in front of a client. They end up seeing a person in this holistic way, where, if I were to put this person in front of a client, would they be able to be engaged, and thoughtful, and things like that? So not everything is a test, so to speak, but it's also contributing to the personality that you bring to the organization.

07:23 KW: I know when I've interviewed candidates in the past, I'm surprised when the candidates don't have questions. Thoughts on that? 'Cause I think that that's important. It shows that they're very engaged in the opportunity.

07:39 DV: Absolutely. I think that most of my clients, in fact, judge the bulk of the interview on the level of questions that are asked at the end of the interview. And I think that's one important takeaway, if people listening to the podcast, is that having a very thoughtful question about their business, about their strategy, what's long-term, short-term, anything that you can look up, it just shows your level of commitment, the level of research that you've done, to be thoughtful about your approach. And I think the questions are absolutely imperative.

08:16 KW: This is actually a topic I'm very passionate about. You may not experience this being in the more professional setting, but Ellevate is like a startup-type company, smaller company. And the appearance is always interesting, because it's casual. I expect candidates to come, maybe not in a suit and tie, but we've had shorts, and jumpers and all kinds of interesting attire for interviews, which, I guess, maybe I'm aging myself, but I was really surprised by.

08:51 DV: Right, no, and we've actually had to deal with that a lot with the "millennial generation" or even Gen Z. Yeah, I think that, at the end of the day, you can have an individuality that you can express on your own time. And that's general rule of thumb. You want to be expressing your personality through your words and through your actions, as opposed to the piece of clothing that you're wearing. My general advice, no matter if you're going into a startup or whatever the case is, button up. Button up to the degree that you're absolutely presentable. You don't know if there are venture capitalists in the room. You don't know if there's private equity folks in the room. There's just a different dynamic that, again, having a macro perspective gives you a bit of insight into how to act within an organization. Whether it's a startup, and you can have a ping pong table, and all of these things, as many of my clients do. However, there is an element of professionalism, and I think that professionalism is being a bit more buttoned up, especially with creating a first impression.

10:04 KW: Another question that I actually get asked a lot is around being noticed for the first interview. How do you get your foot in the door?

10:13 DV: Yes, so there's a lot of different tips that I end up giving to individuals, whether it's junior to senior level. I think most people don't realize that they have a pretty strong network, so starting from making calls just within your network. The second tip is to work with a couple of good recruiters that have an impression of you. You shouldn't just think of these recruiters as just another person wanting your resume. It takes time to develop good relationships. And once you have good relationships with a few good recruiters that understands you, your personality, the type of culture fit you'll be within an organization, it'll be beneficial for you to see the landscape of what the market looks like. So I think those tips are knowing, even if your neighbor is at a Fortune 500 company or a startup, just keeping an engaged dialogue, utilizing your network, your alumni network, your Facebook network, LinkedIn. There's a whole host of ways for you to start the process. And, again, seek out some professional advice, as well, along the way.

11:23 KW: From the candidate side, do you see differences between men and women, when it comes to job searches or work placements?

11:30 DV: Absolutely, absolutely. Well, I'll start with just the differences between men and women. I think it's an older story now, but I think when men apply to roles, or think that they're qualified for the roles, they may only check three out of the 10 boxes, and they're willing to give it a shot. They're the risk takers. I think when females end up applying to the role, they wanna make sure that they check all 10 boxes. And if they don't have it, they're going to be apprehensive in applying, which is where we come in and really encourage them to at least raise their hands and get involved, and at least go through the process from... Even at the end of the day, a learning process.

12:17 DV: But I think most individuals, females, they don't have to be afraid of risk. If you don't meet all the boxes, there's a lot of elements where you can learn on the job, and there's so many great, raw, fundamental skills that you have, that you're not really showing on your resume, or you're not actually projecting while they're actually there. We often find that it's difficult to have women consider certain opportunities and for them to say, "Hey, I may be seven out of 10, but I wanna give it a shot." And that's the encouraging part that we try to leverage with them. And I think that's... The same goes for Board. I think a lot of women out there, that have had such a great depth and breadth of experience, still don't think that they've reached the seat at the table. It's almost as if there's this impostor syndrome that, "Hey, I've accomplished this much, but have I really earned the right to be at that table?"

13:24 KW: Yeah. I feel that sometimes, and I'm aware of it, and have to kind of kick yourself in the butt, and say, "Yes, I deserve this. I've worked hard."

13:34 DV: Absolutely.

13:35 KW: "And I can do it. Even if I don't know, I'll learn it."

13:37 DV: Yeah, and that's why I love these organizations. Girls who code, girls who invest, focusing on the female generation from the very beginning. Boys are told to go for it, where girls haven't been pushed in that way. And there's a lot of organizations dedicated to just growth for women, from the beginning. Go into engineering, go into a lot of different roles, as opposed to the traditional track that females have gone into.

14:10 KW: Yeah, I'm on the leadership advisory board for the Girl Scouts of New York, and they have this great leadership training institute. And so last year I judged a pitch competition for high school girls who built apps, and went up on stage and talked about the cost it would take to build it, what the purpose was, what they think the revenue potential would be, how they're going to market it. And I was incredibly impressed. They're more poised... I've seen a lot of pitches and they're more poised than any that I'd seen.

14:41 DV: Absolutely.

14:43 KW: And one, I was impressed by the actual product itself, because I think it's a perspective that I wouldn't have thought of, being older than they are. But too, just the experience of building something and feeling proud of it, and feeling confident, and knowing, "Okay, I can do this, and I can get behind it, and I can be proud of it. And even if I don't win the competition, I still did something that's meaningful."

15:12 DV: Absolutely. And I think a lot of these organizations that have come together more recently, like Level League and others, really targeting female talent, and creating this camaraderie within our own market segment, where you wanna be able to build each other up. And I think that's the most important thing, where there's a lot of... When you think about it, with dating back to sororities, and fraternities, and things like that, guys have a way of encouraging each other, whereas women traditionally haven't done that in a very meaningful way. And when you think that you're part of a league, a part of a generation that wants to uplift women, it's really empowering.

16:00 KW: You made a point earlier about women checking the boxes with a job search. And we just did our impact survey. We survey our members every year to see what they've accomplished, and how that they progressed as a community, and then also, how that compares to the larger world. And roughly 39% of Ellevate members asked for a raise last year. And I was really surprised by that. And we found that it was predominantly mid-career. So if you're very junior you're not asking for a raise and if you're very senior you're not asking for a raise. And of those that did ask for a raise, was predominantly women in sales, business development, negotiation heavy, customer-facing functions. And so, too, you said something earlier about, "What's wrong, if you don't check every box?" You need to have the confidence that you can do that. And it's almost, "Why not ask for a raise?" The worst that will happen is someone says, "No."

17:00 DV: Absolutely.

17:01 KW: And sure that can be frustrating. And I think, it's then important to understand why that... Is it a business imperative, is it pay scale, or is it performance related, and if so, where is the room for improvement? But we're afraid to ask.

17:17 DV: Yeah. I think that's really the fundamental problem, where dollar for dollar, we're not on an equal pay scale at the moment. And there are a lot of studies out there that are obviously stating that we're not. And for women not to ask for it, is they're cheating themselves. I think, oftentimes, you'll find that their reviews are completely on par, if not better than their male counterparts, except they're not raising their hands, or having the conversation, or it's uncomfortable. They don't want to be confrontational or they think that they're meeting the requirements, but not exceeding. And again, it goes back, like you said, to the "check the boxes syndrome."

18:04 DV: And I think, at every level, if you think you have met the expectations and continue to want to exceed those expectations, there's no reason why you shouldn't be raising your hand and saying, "Hey, I'd like to have a conversation regarding my compensation for this year." Or, "What will it look like between year one and two? What can you tell me, how I should change my game or raise my level of expectations, in order to get me to this amount?" But it's not always dollars, right? It's not always about getting that extra bonus, a couple of extra bucks in there, maybe it's flexibility on schedule, maybe it's other benefits that you think are much more important than dollar value. There's a lot of different ways to attack the issue, but the first start, is actually raising your hand to attack the issue.

18:58 KW: Yeah, and that's a great point. It doesn't have to just be the finance, the money. There's so many benefits that play into our package and being able to identify where there's room for movement is important.

19:13 DV: Right. Maybe there's more dollars going into somebody's pocket by working from home on Friday's and not having to pay for daycare. Those are the kinds of things that a lot of employers are not thinking about, in a way that could be greatly effective for one of their workers. And so I think that having the ability to explain your thought process around that and how that would be beneficial... At times, I work from home and I find that I'm far more efficient working from home, than commuting into the office, and being disturbed by a number of individuals knocking on the door, and saying, "Hey." I'm extremely focused and can crank out a lot of work working from home. And I think you have to be able to display those benefits to your employers.

20:03 KW: So one last question for you. I'd love all the work that you've done with the diversity initiative at Heidrick & Struggles and working with companies on their diversity initiatives. What about small companies? So if you're smaller... And many of the women in our network, either work for or own small companies. How can you really be an employer of choice? And when limited resources, or maybe someone who's not full time dedicated to diversity, or recruiting, or...

20:32 DV: Yeah, no, small companies do have an advantage. If you think about some of the government programs and government scaled items that come through an RFP, they wanna make sure that they're targeting some of these small businesses that are minority and women-owned, or just women-owned. There's a lot of opportunity that these firms can actually subcontract into and gain that experience, while not having a full fledged resource behind them. There's a lot of advantages that can be taken. I remember when I started my own boutique search firm, there are a lot of advantages that I took care of, when being a woman and minority owned firm, I was able to subcontract with some of the larger firms, and have access to those types of searches, or those types of clients. There's a lot of things that are going on and I'm not just saying about government, but I think a lot of these lab programs, a lot of these larger companies, are looking for diverse vendors. They're looking for smaller, boutique, niche platforms that have a very strong expertise in one vertical. And if your firm happens to do that well, you can take advantage of being that minority or woman-owned business.

21:55 KW: Yeah, and it's very appealing also to potential hires.

22:00 DV: Absolutely, right. And I think you're attracting talent that values diversity, that values out of the box ideas, that values these initiatives, that want to be seen through different lenses. And you're able to collaborate, and learn from other cultures, learn from other individuals that have different experiences. And for the most part, even within the financial services arena, there's been an ongoing initiative on diversity, where not just diversity of talent, but diversity of thought. If you think about some of these hedge funds or asset managers that are now looking to technology, and saying, "Well, how do we invest better with better technology, with predictive analytics, with data science, the topic du jour?" I think they're equally valuing diversity of thought.


22:56 KW: Fantastic. Perfect. Well, thank you, this was great.

22:57 DV: Thank you. This was...

22:58 KW: I really enjoyed chatting with you today.

23:00 DV: Likewise, thank you so much for having me.


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