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Women’s History Month Spotlight with Jen Mysliwicz

BY Team Practifi

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we want to shine a spotlight on the incredible contributions and journeys of women within and outside of Practifi. In this special series, we are honored to feature five remarkable women leaders who have forged their own paths within the wealth management and finance space. Through their stories and insights, we aim to not only celebrate their achievements but also gain valuable perspectives from their experiences navigating and excelling in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

Introducing Jen Mysliwicz, Director of Sales here at Practifi. Jen’s journey takes place in the bustling Northeast and is a story of resilience and forward-thinking. In this interview, she offers a candid glimpse into her early career, revealing the hurdles she’s overcome and the innovative mindset that has driven her success.

Charting the Finance Course: A Journey Guided by Purpose

Jen Mysliwicz’s dive into finance wasn’t a twist of fate or a surprise turn of events. Growing up, she was already familiar with the ins and outs of the financial world, thanks to being exposed to the industry at a young age. With this foundation, Jen set out on a deliberate path, driven by both her curiosity and a sense of direction. Her story showcases the importance of knowing where you’re headed in the vast world of finance, and how it’s possible to carve out your niche with determination and a clear vision.

Q: Can you tell us about your journey into the finance industry and how it began?

A: My journey began with visiting my mom at work in the wire room. I was fascinated by the energy in the office, and it sparked my interest in the finance world. As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be the person in the corner office wearing a suit. My career in the field was a series of trials and tribulations to find the right niche within the industry where I’d excel. Although I almost majored in accounting and I love operations, I was able to quickly figure out that sales was where I belonged. I started as a financial advisor knocking on doors — this was right after 2008, so I got a strong sense of the resilience and thick skin you need to survive in this industry and that you will never survive without thick skin.

After selling on the asset management side of the industry, I fell into Fintech when an opportunity to build out the RIA channel in the Northeast emerged. Although technology was never on my radar I became increasingly aware of the importance it had for the industry and was excited to be a part of it. I spent the better part of my career selling financial planning software to the gamut of the industry — from small RIA’s to the largest financial institutions in the country. This path led to me where I am today at Practifi and I couldn’t be more proud of the journey that brought me here.

Q: How intentional was your journey into this industry compared to others you’ve encountered, where entry seemed more happenstance for women?

A: Looking back, I feel like I was always used to having to pave my own way as a female. When I started organized sports as a kid there were no girls’ teams in my town. So I played Little League, and I was also the only girl on a boys’ basketball team. It was challenging because there are just naturally some physical differences at that age but it taught me to work hard and accept the challenge. My favorite saying is, “If there is a will, there is a way” and I always take that approach to everything. 

Being in this industry wasn’t a happenstance for me. I have always wanted to be in finance. Everything about it interested me…..the theory behind economics, the confidence people in the industry seemed to have, and how fast-paced everything was. It has just been ingrained in me to not think about being the only “girl” in the room and focus on what I can control — my performance and my dedication to doing my best no matter what.

Being a woman in a male-dominated industry has taught me the importance of putting myself out there and actively seeking opportunities for growth and advancement, rather than waiting for them to come to me.

Finding Balance Admist the Hustle

In the hustle and bustle of a career in sales and the responsibilities of motherhood, Jen’s journey illustrates the delicate art of finding equilibrium. Juggling the demands of closing deals and tending to the needs of three young children, she navigates a terrain fraught with challenges and triumphs. The constant push and pull between professional obligations and familial duties underscored the complexity of her path. However, through perseverance and adaptability, Jen discovered strategies to harmonize her roles, creating space for both career growth and family enrichment.

Q: Reflecting on your career, what were some challenges you faced and how did you navigate them?

A: One of the largest challenges I have faced is realizing that  as a woman, I naturally tend to want to support others and struggle with self-promotion. I am the nurturer and want others to shine even if I am the one who deserves the credit. I learned this lesson when I was almost overlooked for an internal promotion to an Enterprise team at a former employer. I hadn’t applied because I felt that my performance alone would be noticed. After I won a company presentation contest the hiring manager asked why I hadn’t applied because clearly I was qualified. I realized immediately that advocating for myself was so important. My male peers didn’t think twice about applying and putting themselves forward. If you don’t ask for something, you won’t get it.

Because of that experience, imposter syndrome still shows up and remains a challenge for me. In environments where male colleagues exude confidence and alpha energy, it’s easy to doubt oneself and wonder if I can measure up. There have been instances where I’ve questioned my ability to compete with them, especially during presentations or having to interrupt to speak at the table. Over time, I’ve learned to recognize that confidence doesn’t always equate to competence, but it’s still something I continue to work on.

Q:  Do you believe that maintaining a work-life balance poses unique challenges for women in the industry compared to men, potentially impacting their career advancement?

A: Work-life balance has been a significant challenge in the past. As traditional caregivers, it can seem almost impossible to “do it all.” I held off on starting a family because I was more focused on advancing my career, which in hindsight isn’t fair and something I really wish would change. This is especially prevalent in our industry where long hours are the norm. Take that a step further in sales where your goal for the year doesn’t shrink while you take time away, you still own your pipeline and it can seem impossible to step away for fear of what that can do to hitting your quota. 

I do think one benefit of the pandemic was the ability to work from home. It’s shifted my work-life balance and has single-handedly altered the dynamic for me and many people I know. From my experience, this has allowed me and my spouse to share the caregiving duties more evenly. This gives me more mental space to advance in my career without sacrificing our ability to be present for our kids. My husband, who also manages a sales team, now contributes 50% if not more to the responsibilities. We still have help, but overall the shift in work-life balance makes everything more manageable. We can take turns doing drop-off and pick-up, attend our kids’ midday holiday concert (without feeling guilty), and just generally be around more. I have three girls under the age of six, so there is never a dull moment but having a healthy work-life balance allows me to be  a better mom and employee. 

Paving the Path for Women in Leadership

Reflecting on the current landscape of leadership in the industry, Jen highlights both progress and challenges in achieving gender diversity at senior levels. Despite strides towards inclusivity, Jen acknowledges the ongoing struggle to diversify leadership pipelines, underscoring the importance of collective efforts to promote and support women in pursuing leadership roles. With a call to action for early intervention and increased visibility of female leaders, Jen advocates for a future where gender parity in leadership is not only achievable but celebrated.

Q:  At a leadership level, what are your thoughts on the current level of representation of women in leadership roles in the industry?

A: Over time, I’ve noticed a positive trend with more women in senior leadership positions. At my previous company, the CEO was female. Here at Practifi, I am lucky to work with other women on the leadership team. I’ve always valued a close relationship with the executive team, and having female leaders brings a different perspective with more diverse thoughts, experiences and a culture of inclusion.

However, I recognize that this isn’t the norm in our industry. In some of my previous roles, there were very few women in leadership positions, if any at all. While progress is being made, it’s still an uphill battle to achieve diversity, especially when the pool of applicants may not be as diverse as we’d like. Nevertheless, I’ve been fortunate to work for companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion at the executive level.

I’ve seen firsthand how having women in leadership positively impacts the organization’s culture and benefits. Their unique perspectives contribute to a more inclusive and supportive work environment, which has a ripple effect throughout the company. Overall, I believe we’re heading in the right direction, and I’m grateful to be part of companies that value and promote diversity in leadership.

Q:  Do you feel companies have an obligation to promote and support women to take leadership roles?

A:  I believe there’s a collective responsibility to raise awareness and promote opportunities for women in the industry. It’s crucial to start this effort early on, perhaps even at the stage of choosing majors or career paths. While there’s been some progress, I think there’s still a lack of public discussion and promotion around getting more women into the industry.

We need to actively educate and inform people about the potential paths available to them, especially those looking to transition into different industries later in their careers. Fintech, for example, combines finance and technology, traditionally male-dominated fields, and we need to break down barriers to entry for women in these areas.

We also need to amplify female voices and showcase their success in our industry. Just as basketball star Caitlyn Clark (I’m a huge fan!) is now widely celebrated for her success and leadership, promoting successful women in the industry can serve as role models for younger generations. We need the Caitlyn Clark of Fintech. With the power of social media and increased visibility, we can leverage inspiration to pave the way for more women to pursue careers in finance and technology.

It's about being vocal and visible so that others can see the possibilities and feel empowered to follow suit.

Q: What advice would you give to young women aspiring to enter the wealth managment tech sector?

A: The first step is finding a mentor, someone you respect and who has walked a similar path. Having someone to bounce ideas off of and gain insights from can be invaluable. 

Mostly, it’s about putting yourself out there, even if it feels uncomfortable. As women, we often prioritize supporting others over advocating for ourselves. However, it’s essential to vocalize our goals and ambitions. If you don’t ask, you won’t receive. So, don’t be afraid to make your presence known and ask for what you want. 

Waiting for recognition to come to you isn't always effective. Sometimes, you need to take the initiative and go after it yourself.

Jen’s story encourages us to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and to approach our careers with a blend of passion and rationality. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Jen for generously sharing her story and wisdom through this interview. As we move forward, let’s carry Jen’s example with us, knowing that with resilience and a strategic mindset, we too can achieve great things in our chosen fields. 

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