‘Be firm’, conference speaker tells women entrepreneurs

To succeed in the business world, a woman needs knowledge, ethics and self-confidence – and it also helps to have a manicurist/pedicurist/masseuse on call, said Trinidadian entrepreneur Angela Lee Loy. 

“You have to have your support system, whatever it takes,” Ms Lee Loy told an audience at the Department of Commerce & Investment’s annual Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs conference. “This is not theory. This is just downright practical stuff.” 

Ms Lee Loy is the founder and chairman of Aegis Business Solutions Ltd., an accounting outsourcing firm she formed in 2001 upon leaving PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she had attained the rank of partner at age 33. Ms Lee Loy, who also recently acquired staff consultancy firm Eve Anderson Associates Ltd., has more than 38 years experience in the field of accounting, which she admitted was a “very male-dominated profession”. 

Indeed, Ms Lee Loy was just the second woman to enter the audit department of Price Waterhouse, the predecessor of PwC. On Thursday, Ms Lee Loy told the audience, primarily of women, at the Marriott Grand Cayman Resort about the necessity of being assertive in the boardroom environment, especially if you happen to be a youthful and petite female professional. 

“As a woman, you have to take control of your space. Be firm: You know what you know,” she said, adding. “And, as women, we have charm. Sometimes we must use our charm to get done what needs to be done.” 

Ms Lee Loy said she never felt bothered by the fact that she was often the only woman in the room, and she celebrated her femininity, for example, opting to wear dresses rather than suits in the workplace.  

In addition to hard work and education, honesty and principles are necessary for long-term success, she said.  

“You must have ethics and integrity. If you don’t have that, then you are here today and gone 
tomorrow,” she said. 

Ms Lee Loy also discussed the need to balance work with family and personal needs. She told the audience about frank discussions she had with her husband before making career decisions, and said she mediates every single day so that she can have moments of true quiet. 

In addition to her professional positions, Ms Lee Loy was the first female president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean, president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Trinidad & Tobago, and chair of the National AIDS Coordinating Committee. 

Other guest speakers at Thursday’s event included Cindy O’Hara and Glenda Dilbert-Davis. Ms O’Hara is director of design and development and chairman/partner of Cayman Enterprise City.  

With more than 20 years of experience in the construction industry, Ms O’Hara has designed projects such as the Enterprise City master plan, HSBC Headquarters, Governors Square, Countryside Village, Cable and Wireless/LIME-One Technology Square, and The Spinnakers residential development. 

Ms Dilbert-Davis is the founder of FAB…for Life!, a women’s support group promoting lifelong fitness and beauty. She also founded FAB Essentials, a sister company offering products such as Miche Bag. Ms Dilbert-Davis is head of human resources and administration for the Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands. 

Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly delivered opening remarks at the conference. “We’re always excited to see women break the glass ceiling,” she said. 

She said the greatest inhibitors to her professional journey have been, not men, but other women who acted as naysayers. “Somewhere along the line, whether through osmosis or direct subliminal messaging, we’ve been taught that for a woman to succeed there can be only one. There’s a lot of room at the top. We don’t have to tear down another woman to get to the top,” Ms O’Connor-Connolly said. 

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Ms Lee Loy
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