Women’s Appreciation Month: Be Your Own Advocate

Throughout Women’s Appreciation Month, Smart City strove to hear perspectives from all corners of our company. This led to fantastic interviews with some of the incredible women of Smart City Networks. In this blog post, check out our video with interviews from our CFO Jacki Miller, our Controller Amy Stone, and our Director of QA & Marketing Sarah Finnegan. After the video, be sure to keep reading for a more in-depth interview with Jacki!

Jacki Miller Full Interview

Jacki Miller

Jacki Miller’s quest to become the Chief Financial Officer at Smart City Networks highlights determination in the face of gender bias. Despite encountering skepticism about her career aspirations due to her plans for a family, Jacki defied expectations and pursued her dream of becoming a CFO. Her tenure at Smart City Networks, spanning over seven years, is evidence that a work-life balance is indeed possible for women in this field. Her interview for Women’s Appreciation Month is insightful and we encourage everyone to check it out!

I found a few interesting and sad statistics in my research for this interview. One study said that with over 130,000 CFOs in the United States, only 28% are female. Other studies from 2020 and 2021 came in even lower, with major U.S. companies reporting only 16%-15% CFOs being female.  Why do you think that disparity between male and female CFO’s is so high?

J: I got asked the question of what I wanted to do a lot when I was younger. And I always said I wanted to be a CFO. One time a gentleman asked me, ‘Well, do you want to have kids?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I want to have four kids.’ And he goes, ‘Well, you can’t do both.’ And, you know, that was kind of disheartening. And I, you know, I didn’t like that answer.

What are your thoughts on mentorship and how has that shaped you into the professional that you are?

J: I think mentorship has been a big part of my success. I think I had some amazing mentors of women who were successful and had kids when I was still in college. And then I was able to find women as mentors that had children and had great success. They were able to do the work life balance and yet still get to the pinnacle of their career.

As we celebrate Women’s Appreciation Month, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what this occasion means to you personally. Why do you think it’s important for us to take the time to honor and appreciate women’s contributions, especially within our industry?

J: I think, honestly, everything is harder for women. I do think women are held to a higher standard than men in general. I do think, you know, if if a gentleman says, I’m going to leave early, I’m going to my kid’s soccer game, that’s looked at differently than if a woman says it’s still to this day. That’s just been my experience. And, you know, I saw a couple times in my career where men with less experience, less maybe less education, but willing to, you know, go out every night, got the promotions.

How does Smart City Networks fit into that?

J: I just want to say I really think Smart City, you know, being in technology, is really trying to advocate for the women. I think one of the things that helps is Jim, Marty, and Mark all have three strong, well, more than three strong daughters, but they have strong daughters, and they understand the challenge that women go through, which makes a big difference. And, you know, I’m not saying we’re perfect. We obviously still have work to do, but I do feel like we’re trying to set the right foundation to continue to grow and have done that significantly since I’ve been here.

Do you think that is still a problem or have things gotten better?

J: I think it’s definitely gotten better. Just the fact that I had those women as mentors—they didn’t have that—has changed it. But I think there’s always room for improvement, continuous improvement.

Do you have any other advice for younger women in this industry?

J: You see this a lot with jobs that come up. A male candidate may look at a job requirement and see ten requirements, but they’ll only be trained in five. They’ll apply for a job. A woman will wait till they hit all ten. So one of the things I do when I try to talk to younger women who are doing finance roles is say, don’t be afraid to apply for those jobs, and also don’t be afraid to ask for promotions.

There’s this thought that if I do the work, they’re just going to give it to me. That’s that’s not the reality. You’ve got to go in. You have to negotiate. You have to make it clear. When our company was first purchased by private equity, I said, I’d like to be the CFO.

And, you know, I was very clear with that. I don’t think it may have happened if I hadn’t spoken up for myself. So women have to do a better job of being their own advocate.

Ask for the raises, ask for the promotions, make it clear you’re willing to do the work for the job.

Thank you to Jacki, Amy and Sarah for their time! It was wonderful learning more about your journeys! For more about Women’s Appreciation Month and to read other Smart City Spotlights, check out our blog!

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