Paying it forward

“I’ve had strong female role models from an early age…it is my purpose and pleasure to pay this support forward.”

Margarita Economides (MIFPT2016)

Engagement Manager
Oliver Wyman

Margarita 1

Empowering excellence

“Everything about London Business School is built around an openness and willingness to engage and exchange ideas.”

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Early inspiration

“Empowering women is something I’ve have always felt passionate about. We’re not yet at a time where there is equality of opportunity for men and women. Throughout my own career in financial services I’ve seen first-hand how the gender imbalance plays out. Very often I’ve been the only woman in the room. It can be daunting or difficult to feel empowered to do your best in these situations."

“My drive to play a part in eradicating gender inequality stems partly from my experience at school. I attended North London Collegiate School, an all-girls school where the gender gap didn’t exist for me. I was simply unaware of it there and was encouraged to realise my full potential, whatever the context. My teachers inspired me to believe wholly in my ability and to achieve any goals I set myself. It wasn’t until I entered the world of work that I discovered things like the gender pay gap actually existed."

“I knew at university that I wanted to work in finance, and I secured my first job as an analyst with Morgan Stanley shortly after graduating. A few years later I transitioned to Client Solutions with BlackRock, before joining Oliver Wyman in 2016."

“At that point I was keen to expand beyond pure finance and into strategy, so I applied to join the part-time Masters in Finance degree programme at London Business School (LBS). I’d always been passionate about finance, but to progress I needed the business angle. LBS offered it all. There was the reputation for academic excellence and in particular, the focus on strategy that I needed to build out my skillset. LBS also offered really unique access to the diversity of network that I was looking for in order to broaden my own thinking. In my
cohort, in the faculty and in other programmes there was a breadth of cultures, geographies, and industries. Everything in the School is built around an openness and willingness to engage and exchange ideas. This extends into the alumni community, too."

“At LBS I joined the Women in Business Club as treasurer, using my finance background to allocate budget and award sponsorships. That’s where my interest and involvement in women’s empowerment took serious hold. The club was an integral part of my time at LBS and mirrored the School’s pervasive culture of engaging with others and being open to help and advise. I’ve put together a powerful network of support that I still draw from. As a consultant, I often have to start from scratch to solve businesses’ toughest problems, and so I
regularly speak to members of the LBS faculty to discuss ideas and receive input.”

Defining the challenges

“My role as Engagement Manager and as a leader of women’s issues brings me into daily contact with the kinds of challenges that women routinely face in their jobs and lives. When you look at what women have to overcome in the workplace, I’d say the biggest hurdles are unconscious biases – those hard-wired, unspoken assumptions help by both genders that make women more prone to doubt their skills than men.”

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Challenging stereotypes and negative thinking

“Sponsorship really matters for everyone, men and women alike. It works best when it’s a natural, organic process. For the people at the top of organisations, it’s usually easier or more comfortable to sponsor profiles similar to their own. The problem, of course, is that most of the senior people are men."

“At Oliver Wyman, my work removes barriers to women fulfilling their full potential. I’ve launched training initiatives that help women self-evaluate in order to overcome stereotypes and embed confidence. I’m also a passionate advocate of cross-gender sponsorship - there’s a lot of pressure on senior women to support women coming up behind them. I believe we all have a duty to encourage others, but we need to engage with men too. Men have got to be involved in closing these gender gaps, it can’t just be down to the minority of women in positions of influence."

“I’m now preparing to launch a new network at Oliver Wyman called ‘Men Matter,’ which aims to engage men in conversations around gender equality. I also organise regular coaching sessions and larger panel events to explore issues like the gender pay gap. I recently heard a great piece of advice from Alison Temperley, a career coach who spoke at an event organized by Oliver Wyman’s Women’s Network. When someone asks you how you are, instead of simply saying ‘fine’ or ‘great,’ take it as an opportunity to let that person know what you’re doing. So say something like: ‘I’m great! I’m working on achieving this specific goal and it’s really fascinating for these reasons...’ Use your answer to celebrate your work."

“Building self-awareness of self-limiting, negative thoughts and taking actions to counteract them should be part of every professional woman’s toolkit. If you don’t believe you have the right experience or aptitudes, be aware that this may not actually be true, nor the way others see you. You may need to reshape your thinking to believe in yourself more and rise up to the challenge."

“I’ve been very lucky, having had strong female role models from a very early age. At school, our headteacher Bernice McCabe, taught us all to believe we could do whatever we wanted. For anyone out there who ever doubts themselves, regardless of gender, it is my purpose and pleasure to pay this support forward to you and help you achieve your full potential.”

Leaving self-doubt behind

“The biggest hurdles are unconscious biases – hard-wired, unspoken assumptions that make women more prone to doubt their skills than men.”

Widening the finance lens

“I’d always been passionate about finance, but to progress I needed the business angle. LBS offered it all.”

The sky’s the limit

“Build self-awareness of self-limiting, negative thoughts and take actions to counteract them.”