100 Women in Finance NextGen Committee members Renee Caudeiron, Jelena Vujovic and Kimberly Melen.- Photo: Reshma Ragoonath.

Women are making strides in the male-dominated financial industry, but those within the industry believe more progress can be made through greater collaboration among women pursuing careers in financial fields.

On Friday, those at the 100 Women in Finance NextGen Cayman sought to trigger that spirit of collaboration through the fourth annual ‘Inspire’ summit at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort. This year’s theme was ‘mentor, motivate, magnify’.

NextGen Cayman co-chair Brittany Fox said the theme was apt for what the group was aiming to achieve at the conference.

“We felt like the [local] marketplace and the global marketplace is very competitive, and people are moving away from the idea of collaborating together. We really wanted to focus on uplifting each other and [have them choose] collaborating over competition,” said Fox.
The summit, she said, was the biggest since it started four years ago, and it was completely sold out on Friday.

She stressed the importance of sharing and networking with colleagues in the same industry.

“It is an opportunity to connect with other people in the industry at different [levels.],” she said, adding that attendees at the summit include those at more advanced stages in their careers and others starting out or mid-career. As well as enabling people to make lifelong friendships, the summit also gives them an opportunity to “gain important knowledge and understanding of some soft skills and some really great takeaways you can put into practice and really shape your career,” Fox said.

The summit featured discussion on key topics, including how unconscious bias stands in the way of diversity and why one should cultivate a leadership mentoring style and the role of intrapreneurship in corporate culture.

NextGen Cayman co-chair Renee Caudeiron said the topic of unconscious bias was selected because it can be seen as a stumbling block to success.

“We wanted to tackle unconscious bias because it is something everyone experiences … and we really want to shatter the stereotypes, as we put in the title of the panel. We want everyone to think about what their unconscious bias is and ways to overcome it because we could all learn from each other in that respect,” she said.

She said the aim of the summit was to encourage attendees to collaborate with each, work with each other and “support and empower one another, especially in today’s competitive workplace”.

Caudeiron said while her experience working in the financial industry has been positive overall, she believes more strides can be made in the industry.

“It is really quite male dominated, but I feel conferences like these, where young women can come together and talk about their experiences, is really what we could do more of,” she said.

Caudeiron said the networking experience for women who are on the same career path and are largely at the same level are also key to success.

The keynote address at the NextGen Cayman Inspire summit was delivered by Crystal Martin, a software developer and consultant at Slalom.

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