Community//

“Setting yearly goals for the number of women promoted into senior roles would be helpful in achieving gender equality” With Jason Hartman & Masha Drokova

Attitudes toward women in finance must be changed on the individual, the company, and the societal level. The stigmatism of “women in finance” must be removed on every level for us to see meaningful, lasting change. Positions and promotions should be given to candidates and employees that are qualified regardless of race, age or gender. […]

Attitudes toward women in finance must be changed on the individual, the company, and the societal level. The stigmatism of “women in finance” must be removed on every level for us to see meaningful, lasting change. Positions and promotions should be given to candidates and employees that are qualified regardless of race, age or gender. In my experience, it’s much easier to achieve goals with benchmarks and KPIs. Companies should implement quotas and champion equal interview opportunities for both men and women. Setting yearly goals for the number of women promoted or hired into senior roles would also be helpful in achieving gender equality. On a societal level, the government could support or reward companies that are bringing in gender diversity with tax cuts or other incentive programs.

Ihad the pleasure to interview Masha Drokova. Masha is the Founder and General Partner of Day One Ventures. Before launching Day One, she was an angel investor and founder of a PR studio that worked with companies like Houzz, HotelTonight, Gett, and Toptal. She is a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree and was named by Business Insider as a top 50 PR Pro in tech. Masha has a deep love for our earth and serves as an advisor to Oceanic, a non-profit using VR to bring attention to issues impacting our oceans.

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

I was the Director of PR at Runa Capital a VC firm based in Russia where I drove strategic planning, development, execution and measurement of global PR activities for Runa Capital to attract startups and new investors. During my time at Runa Capital I advised and assisted 30 startups in PR, marketing and business development. Although my main role at the fund was PR, I had to do due diligence, deal sourcing and engage with the fund community. I had the chance to work with incredible companies like Nginx and sourced companies like Classpass during the very early stages. My time at Runa Capital provided me with the experience, connections and inspiration to launch Day One Ventures.

Can you share the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

During my time at Runa Capital, there were many things that I didn’t understand about the culture, I was young, stubborn and wanted to do things my own way. For example, as PR Director I was responsible for securing interviews and speaking opportunities for Serguei Beloussov. Often, he would turn down opportunities and as the fund grew, he became increasingly selective. At the time, I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t eager or even willing to accept the media and speaking opportunities I was bringing him. 9 years later I’m in the shoes of my Serguei and understand so many of the things he had told me back then. It just amazes me how long it takes to you to actually learn something. The key takeaway is, listen carefully with intent, to people who have more experience than you — it’s the absolute best way to learn.

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

My most exciting new project is Day One Ventures. Through Day One Ventures we are shaping the future we want to live in by funding companies that support a better tomorrow. We take an active role in every company we invest in and influence how they use communications as a tool to succeed and advocate for a focus on customers. We fund ethical, empathetic founders that are building technologies and products that increase productivity, champion sustainability and improve the lives of the people using them. For example, we’ve invested in Nebia, Public Goods and Package Free three companies making the sustainability movement simple for people to be a part of.

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

Day One Ventures stands out because of our unique value proposition, managing and running communications for our portfolio companies. Doing so gives us the opportunity to take an active role in the companies we invest in and have a meaningful impact on the mission, strategy and evolution of the early stage companies we invest in. I began my career in public relations 10 years ago and have been working with incredible founders for over a decade. Many of them became my friends and would confide in me. Often expressing their distrust and unhappiness with investors. I always felt that amazing founders deserved equally amazing investors. At the same time, I felt how powerful of a tool PR could be for the growth of a business but realized that it wasn’t possible for founders to experience the full power if I was just an agency representing clients. I started Day One based upon these two insights and the knowledge that business is one of the most powerful self-realization tools. I started Day One to create something that was different, valuable and important to people.

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?

In every industry, successful and intelligent business leaders are always looking for forward-thinking, creative, new talent to bring onto the team. Innovation and new approaches are best sourced from people with a different upbringing, cultural background and/or different gender and age. Businesses in finance are just starting to understand that it’s better for their business to bring women onto the team and that it helps them tap into new sources of profit. Diversity in any industry isn’t just good because it looks a certain way, diversity is good because its practical and profitable.

According to a CNBC report, less than 7 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?

Attitudes toward women in finance must be changed on the individual, the company, and the societal level. The stigmatism of “women in finance” must be removed on every level for us to see meaningful, lasting change. Positions and promotions should be given to candidates and employees that are qualified regardless of race, age or gender. In my experience, it’s much easier to achieve goals with benchmarks and KPIs. Companies should implement quotas and champion equal interview opportunities for both men and women. Setting yearly goals for the number of women promoted or hired into senior roles would also be helpful in achieving gender equality. On a societal level, the government could support or reward companies that are bringing in gender diversity with tax cuts or other incentive programs.

According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers? If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?

Financial education in the U.S. lacks depth. Students aren’t taught the practical skills needed to be financially literate, prior to college students aren’t taught about loans, compounded interest, dept or how to save for retirement. To improve financial literacy, we must improve finance education in primary and secondary schooling. In fact, the Federal Reserve found that when financial education is mandated, children grow into adults with higher credit scores and lower delinquency rates. Therefore, I’d recommend that financial education be required in schools as it’s critical that we empower young people through education before they make life-changing decisions. Like how much debt they’re willing to take on for college, so that they can begin their careers on a strong footing.

Second, parents can help speed up the requirement at both the school and state levels, by calling emailing and attending meetings with principles and local governments.

Third, I’d recommend that parents approach conversations about finances earlier on and involve their children in real conversations about finances that could help them understand real world scenarios better.

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?

Dmitry Eremeev, an extremely successful entrepreneur, believed in me from our very first meeting. He was the first investor in Day One Ventures and has acted as a mentor and connector since the beginning of our relationship. He has a habit of digging into the roots of everything he’s involved in and a unique ability to identify bottlenecks before anyone even realizes they exist. Dmitry showed me from the very beginning of our relationship what it means to be an exceptional partner. The way our team at Day One interacts with each other and with our founders was inspired by the way Dimitry works with me.

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

“There is one quality that is most important for investors and it’s patience,” patience makes us better people. As an investor patience is critical to success, because focusing on short-term results greatly limits the potential of your portfolio.

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.

If I were to catalyze a movement it would be a movement to inspire individuals to learn to love better. When we love, we are open to so much more. We learn quicker, connect deeper and co-create on a level that’s not achievable otherwise.

You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart investing what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

  • Remember all numbers shared with you. When making investment decisions it’s critical to remember the numbers that are shared with you in meetings, over the phone and in documents. Often in conversation figures are covered that may not be in the deck, those numbers are just as important. Remembering them gives you an upper hand in negotiations.
  • Use every opportunity to calculate numbers in your head. The better you are at calculating in your head the better equipped you’ll be to ask the right questions and in turn make the best possible decision when deciding to invest or not.
  • Regularly calculate how much you have earned and how much you have spent. It’s important to know how much you’ve invested, how much your spending and how much you’re making. Failing to stay on top of this is the easiest way to end up in a bad financial position.
  • When you spend too much earn more. Consulting, small projects and advising are all easy ways to make extra money and keep you learning. If you’re spending more than you should try finding alternative sources of income.
  • Don’t be hesitant to ask for a lower price or better terms when making investments. When discussing terms don’t ever be afraid to ask for a lower price, if you don’t ask, you’ll never get it.
The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.