“Once we, as a society, recognize the potential in all underrepresented groups, we’ll be better off” with Jason Hartman & Marie Myers

Overall, women today are generally more financially independent and educated. This evolution of awareness and empowerment is key in ensuring that, as we continue to grow finance teams and departments, we’re embracing diversity and tapping into underrepresented groups. Once we, as a society, recognize the potential in all underrepresented groups, we’ll be better off, and […]

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Overall, women today are generally more financially independent and educated. This evolution of awareness and empowerment is key in ensuring that, as we continue to grow finance teams and departments, we’re embracing diversity and tapping into underrepresented groups. Once we, as a society, recognize the potential in all underrepresented groups, we’ll be better off, and humanity will be lifted.

As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marie Myers, CFO of UiPath, the leading robotic process automation (RPA) software provider. Marie joined UiPath in January 2019, after spending the majority of her career as a senior financial executive at HP. While at HP, Marie spearheaded the company’s “Controllership of the Future” initiative, guiding the organization to adopt emerging, disruptive technologies — such as RPA and AI — to modernize and digitize financial operations. Having experienced great success using UiPath’s RPA platform, Marie, a self-described “closet geek,” decided to join the company to champion the benefits of automation — including improved operational efficiencies and increased employee satisfaction. Today, Marie is responsible for setting the financial vision and the right set of metrics to support UiPath’s growth so that it can get to the finish line with its performance objectives. She also is helping evangelize RPA and cement UiPath’s status as one of the fastest-growing enterprise software companies in history.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Banking/Finance field?

My path to finance was somewhat unique, as my undergraduate studies were in economics, journalism and political science from the University of Queensland in Australia. As an aside, my background in journalism has always played a big role in my career as it shapes the way I communicate — with my team and with customers. That is, to be trusted and effective, you must be open and transparent in all your interactions.

My career in finance really began when decided to pursue my MBA at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Finance intrigued me as it plays such an essential role in every aspect of a business, forming the basis for strategic planning, ensuring compliance, budgeting and control of a company’s daily operations, so that the company can meet its goals and objectives. The opportunity to be part of such a fundamental role within an organization appealed to me. I wanted to be in a position where I could make a difference and think bigger.

More than 20 years ago I came to the U.S. to study, I had no job and had followed a relationship that didn’t work out. It would have been obvious to go back home to Australia, but I didn’t. I decided to stay, and my father was really upset. It was really hard because I gave up a five-year career and I had nothing. I needed to find a way to make a living, so I just took on 3–4 jobs to support myself. From those early struggles, I learned some things really important about life:

– Resilience — Irrespective of what life throws at you, you have to find a way around it.

– You can never be too humble not to do anything.

As I worked my way up to my current role as CFO, I’ve also learned that you do whatever is necessary to make things happen, and you do it the right way. I’ve taken the lessons, knowledge and experience gained along the way and applied them to my career in finance.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far?

Shortly after joining UiPath, we created a Slack channel called Women in Robotics. Within 24 hours, more than 800 women from across the company signed up to participate in the channel. It was exciting to see the power of women in the software world — which has been historically male-dominated. Women bring an important voice to the market, and to our company, and I’m proud of the efforts we’re making to ensure those voices are heard.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Currently, I am working on a book about digital transformation in the enterprise. Based on my experiences introducing RPA at HP, the book offers lessons learned and best practices when implementing new automation solutions. It also provides insights that I wish someone had given me when I first embarked on this journey to revolutionize the future of work in finance. I want to emphasize though that when I implemented bots in HP, the most important thing was the culture, not necessarily the technology. The cultural transformation — becoming more innovative and adopting a growth mindset — was that they became excited that their job was no longer boring. It’s really all about the human impact and making lives better. Hopefully the book empowers readers to drive enterprise transformation as seamlessly as possible using RPA, data analytics and AI.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

UiPath stands out in its mission to accelerate human achievement by delivering the platform for the automation first era, as well as its unique, comprehensive approach to RPA. At UiPath, we encourage our customers not to think of RPA as just a software solution, but rather a path to the automation-driven enterprise. We differentiate ourselves with the speed and ability to build out the scale to move to a bigger category of players in the market. To use an analogy, you can think about it like vertebrae of an animal. When an animal wants to move, it needs vertebrae to help it move faster. What we must do is scale that vertebrae so that this animal can run at lightning speed.

We also have a vision of rebooting work by arming every employee with one robot. In anticipation of these changes, we provide extensive training to help the workers of today and tomorrow understand how to apply and manage these solutions. It is our view that RPA can be the catalyst for transformational shifts — both within organizations and the larger economy and society. Intelligent automation and digital transformation provide great value — to help companies become not only more efficient and effective, but also improve experiences for employees, customers and suppliers. I truly believe intelligent automation will enable us to be more productive and shape the future of work for us and future generations. UiPath is leading the way.

UiPath also is committed to open innovation and to helping guide digital transformation by providing educational resources and skills training for an automation first world. We partner with hundreds of universities, nonprofits and governments through UiPath Academy and the Academic Alliance to help people understand the advantages of technology solutions and use them to thrive in their careers.

Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?

To use a quote from Melinda Gates, “When you lift up women, you lift up humanity.” As a society, we’re in a different place today — and we are making progress. But biases still exist and there’s plenty of room to continue improving in the quest for true equality. The reality is there remains untapped potential by not including more diversity in finance. Every woman should be able to use her voice and pursue her potential. Women have made, and continue to make, significant contributions as leaders in finance and prove their capabilities. By doing so, we’re raising awareness of the gaps that exist and earned our spots next to our counterparts.

Overall, women today are generally more financially independent and educated. This evolution of awareness and empowerment is key in ensuring that, as we continue to grow finance teams and departments, we’re embracing diversity and tapping into underrepresented groups. Once we, as a society, recognize the potential in all underrepresented groups, we’ll be better off, and humanity will be lifted.

Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and /or c) society to support this movement going forward?

To continue to raise up women in finance, efforts need to be made on all levels — by individuals, companies and society overall. First, I think it is critical to raise awareness about the need for more women and underrepresented minorities in finance, and other industries, by setting an example as leaders. From the top down, demonstrate the value of diversity by being an outspoken advocate and, more importantly, by taking real action. Make it a priority as a leader so others understand the importance of having a diverse and inclusive workforce and are more conscious of their decisions and behaviors. Next, set a goal for diversity, a plan for how you’ll achieve it, take action and measure results. For me, this means setting goals around hiring and doing so with the intention of promoting diversity. I measure my progress and make certain I’m setting inspirational targets. Last but not least, we must continually mentor and serve those around us. By encouraging young women to pursue their goals, you lay the groundwork for the future. All of us can mentor and give back in small, empathic ways. These are the baby steps that will lead to a more inclusive workforce. I am very passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion. All voices matter, and I’m working to help UiPath advance its efforts to expand the number of women and minorities in senior leadership roles.

You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive things one should do to become more financially literate, what would you say? Can you please give a story or example for each.

  1. Set financial literacy goals: Financial literacy is a lifetime skill we should all aim to continually improve upon. Becoming financially savvy needs to start when you’re young. As a mother, I make sure that my kids understand that spending our money — and the way we decide to do so — is one way of using our voice. With so many tools and information available online, I encourage individuals to use these resources to their advantage.
  2. Make a business case: When considering a sizeable purchase, make a business case for it. This means researching how much it will cost, what the benefits are, identifying your plan to save for the purchase and spelling out how you will measure its success/worth. I have three young children and I even make them do this for things they ask for — whether it be a trip, camp or a new instrument.
  3. Separate your wants from needs: It is increasingly important to distinguish between wants and needs. This separation around affordability will help you to not spend more than you earn and ensure you’re actually aware of what is a necessity and what is not. At the end of the day, it’s about fiscal balance and accountability.
  4. Measure your progress and celebrate success: It is important to set goals so that you can clearly see your progress. When you hit goals, celebrate them and be proud of your accomplishments — whether that is another step towards financial literacy or saving for your next “business plan” purchase.
  5. Ask for help: In order to take control of your finances, it is important to ask for help sooner rather than later. This means asking for help if you don’t understand aspects of your finances or just need a little guidance. I regularly encourage those around me to seek advice and not be shy about financial questions. The only way we can increase financial literacy, and ensure financial stability, is by talking more openly and by being accountable.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Jon Flaxman, former COO at HP, was an incredible mentor to me. For the better part of two decades, Jon was not only a motivational and inspiring mentor, but a trusted friend. I could always count on Jon to be completely honest with me — even if his advice wasn’t something I wanted to hear. He always had my best interests at heart and took me under his wing, sharing both his wit and wisdom with me through the highs and lows. In particular, I remember when I had my children, he encouraged me to take time off to do what was right for my life, even if that meant my career took a backseat temporarily. Sadly, Jon passed away last year, but his legacy and impact on my life — both personally and professionally — inspired me to become a true champion of mentorship and helping others along their career paths. I hope to honor him by continuing to serve as a mentor to others.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

At a young age, my mother instilled in me a work ethic that, “Success is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.”

With that in mind, my favorite motto is “GSD” — get stuff done! I am a firm believer in getting things done without the fluff. I used to think you needed to have fancy degrees or titles to be truly successful. But, over the course of my career, I’ve learned it’s really just about executing well. I focus on delivering tasks efficiently and effectively.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Along with the rest of the UiPath team, I’m striving to create a better, more productive and more gratified workforce where there is one robot per person. By democratizing RPA, workers from around the globe will be able to enjoy more fulfilling work while accelerating productivity. It is my passion to help accelerate the adoption of automation across public and private sectors and businesses of all sizes, resulting in tremendous shifts in the ways in which we balance work and play. It’s critical to start preparing the next generation now and developing the workforce of the future.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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