Power 100 Women: KPMG macroeconomist Yael Selfin on career planning, her grandmother, and how to negotiate a payrise

 
Isabelle Werffeli
Selfin: "In hindsight it would have been better to plan my career" (Source: KPMG)

As part of City A.M.'s ongoing Power 100 series, KPMG's head of macroeconomics talks about what drives her in business.

​Are you doing what you always imagined you'd be doing?

I always wanted to be in the centre of what was happening and thought macroeconomics was that. I always wanted to do something I enjoyed.

Is it important to have goals?

I didn’t really plan my career. In hindsight it would have been much better to plan it. For example, if you want to be an economist, it’s good to get a broad range of experience - a little in the public sector and a little in the private sector.

Ultimately if you really want to succeed, do something you enjoy, otherwise it can be really tough. You need to be resilient because it’s not always going to be great.

Read more: City A.M. Unregulated: How to be badass in business

Describe your professional inspiration

I was raised by my grandmother. She was a working woman, who created a children’s museum, was a biology teacher and studied psychology in Austria with Sigmund Freud. Her cousins were studying law when there were only five women at the university studying law before the Second World War.

So it was unthinkable that I wouldn’t go to university. I wasn’t consciously encouraged - it was always just something I was expected to do. I think that had more influence on me - actually seeing women working outside the home and enjoying what they were doing and having purpose in their work.

Why are there so few women at the top?

As an economist I’d define it as supply and demand. There is an issue with the supply. There are other options that women prefer and that could be a big factor.

What one thing should women be doing in the workplace to drive gender equality?

Men and women mentoring younger women who are driven and want to go far - even women who are not sure exactly what they want to do. I have had very good mentors who were both men and women. You should also definitely have more than one mentor.

What are your tips for negotiating a payrise?

Point out your achievement and your contribution. You should ask to be rewarded and recognised accordingly. There’s quite a lot of anecdotal evidence that says that women don’t “shout” as much as men and I think that’s probably true. Women need to boast more and shout more about their achievements and their contributions.

We tend to attribute our success to the help of others. Of course, you want the team recognised as well but women have a different way of acknowledging their success. Maybe HR and the like would need to recognise that they might need to look at things differently.

If you want something, you need to go for it. If you feel like you deserve something, you need to say it. If you want a promotion, you need to go and ask for it. You should not sit there and wait for people to give you things if you think you deserve them.

City A.M.'s Power 100

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