In the Suite Podcast Ep 10: Starting a Movement and a Male Ally Network with Sheryl Hickerson, CEO of Females & Finance

Sheryl Hickerson, CEO of Females & Finance
Sheryl Hickerson, CEO of Females & Finance

There are certain individuals who can just step into a room and light it up. Those are the people who we all clamor to be around, eager to get a sense of who they are and, if we’re lucky, find out where they get all of their energy and charisma from! That’s exactly how I feel about this week’s In The Suite guest, Sheryl Hickerson. Sheryl is a powerhouse of energy that has lit up the FinServ and FinTech circles. Known as her social alias, BionicSocialite, Sheryl has managed to meld her passions, interests and experiences into a beautiful life and purposeful career.

Sheryl serves as the CEO of two companies, including one of the most successful private membership organizations in financial services, Females and Finance. In addition to leading Females and Finance, Sheryl is the CEO of Unified Financial Network and AVP of Business Development at Highland Capital Brokerage. However, Sheryl’s career in finance began 30 years ago when she accidentally faxed her resume to the wrong company, and it landed her a job at Mass Mutual. 

At the time, Sheryl didn’t know a thing about financial services but she was a go-getter and, more importantly, she had an insatiably curiosity – a trait she was later told was the primary reason why she was hired for the job. For years, these traits, alongside her willingness to be bold and open to new expressions of her career – led to new opportunities, a pivot into marketing 8 years ago, and The F Word, a podcast that was inspired by an interaction with GaryV.

Sheryl shares that the beginning of her career in finance was marked with sexist interactions (an unfortunate norm at the time), alongside often being the only woman in a room. These types of experiences led to the formulation of Females and Finance, a place for like-minded financial services professionals to share valuable insights, have engaging discussions and establish key connections. In two years, Sheryl and her husband have used intentionality and the power of social media to grow membership to nearly 3000 women and male allies – far surpassing their initial goal of 200-members. 

Part of what Sheryl teaches is that each member is responsible to give back. And that’s a through line you’ll find in everything Sheryl touches. Sheryl has used the pandemic as another moment to offer much needed resources to members, while also providing useful gems throughout our conversation. In our discussion, Sheryl walks us through everything from how to overcome analysis paralysis through the art of getting things done in small chunks to how to create a life of harmony instead of balance. Take a listen to the episode and take the below three steps to help you tap into your own bionic superpowers:

  1. Pay It Forward: Sheryl repeatedly preaches the responsibility to give back to members of Females and Finance. Take 10 minutes to reflect on people you’re working alongside or others in your industry and ask yourself, what can you offer someone this week? Who needs a mentor? An introduction? How can you be of service to someone? Think about this or even send a note to one particular people to let them know they’ve been on your mind and to tell them you’d love to help offer them professional support, if there’s anything they need. 
  2. Overcome Analysis Paralysis: Sheryl lays out a couple examples of using bite size planning to start a podcast or write a book. For many of us, we have some goal that has a process we’re unfamiliar with, and ultimately, unconsciously scared to do. So, instead of choosing to let the fear of a goal stop you from exerting any effort, plan a way to reach your goal through cumulative bit size efforts. Make a plan for the month and lay out small daily tasks. It may not feel like much when you’re doing it but you’ll find that in a month, you’re significantly closer to your goal than you normally would’ve been.
  3. Harmony over Balance: As Sheryl teaches us, it’s about choosing to create efficiencies and allowing yourself to do the things you have energy for. Make a list of what you have energy to do and another one of the things you can afford to outsource. Do you really need to be the one building a website? Doing your social media? Or perhaps there are things in your household that you can get help managing? Start to build a life that is one of harmony and focused effort instead one that is inconsistent attempts to do it all well. 

Show Notes 

This week In The Suite welcomes Sheryl Hickerson into the guest chair. Sheryl serves as the CEO of two companies, including one of the most successful private membership organizations in FinServ, Females and Finance. In addition to leading Females and Finance, Sheryl is the CEO of Unified Financial Network and AVP of Business Development at Highland Capital Brokerage. Through all expressions of her career, Sheryl brings her energy and her desire to serve. 

In this episode, Sheryl shares how she’s built Females and Finance; how she’s continued to remain open and pursue career interests and passions; and her secrets for what women can do when they feel stuck. Through our conversation, it’s clear that Sheryl has managed to meld her passions, interests and experiences into a beautiful life and purposeful career.

Sheryl is a powerhouse of energy – so much so that within minutes, listeners will get a sense as to why she’s known as her social alias, BionicSocialite. 

Join the conversation to hear more about:

  • The experiences that led Sheryl to start Females and Finance (5:00)
  • The unteachable trait of leaders that Sheryl possesses (6:47)
  • What attributed to the growth of Females and Finance (14:00)
  • What most women in FinServ and FinTech mention they need in their careers (19:00) 
  • The helpful resources Females and Finance offers amid a global pandemic (23:30)
  • What all members are expected to contribute to Females and Finance (31:23)
  • Two vital pieces of advice for those looking to create a conference for women (34:35)
  • How the bionic woman maintains her energy (38:25)
  • The two things every woman who’s looking to build thought leadership should be doing (41:59)
  • Sheryl’s advice to get “unstuck” from analysis paralysis (44:40)
  • What Sheryl uses to magnify her superhero strength (58:30)

Referenced Materials

Sheryl Hickerson LinkedIn
Females and Finance
Unified Financial Network
Highland Capital Brokerage

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