Women’s History Month Q&A: Stories of Sponsorship and Allyship

A workplace is only as strong as its culture, and at PwC, we’re proud that our people – who represent varied experiences, communities and identities – continue to shape who we are as a firm. Through shared cultural experiences and environments that help foster diversity of thought and perspectives, we live our values of building on a culture of belonging. That priority extends to how we celebrate heritage months and other holidays and observances that are important to our people.

In March, we celebrate Women’s History Month by honoring the women at our firm who are leaders, influencers and changemakers in their own right. We’re inspired by their contributions that strengthen the firm and their communities, by their commitment to advancing gender equality and influencing positive change. Hear from the women at our firm about their diverse and varied career experiences, the importance of allyship and sponsorship as we continue to advance gender equality, and the women who have inspired them in their own career pursuits.

Q: Throughout your career, how have you seen the women around you change the workplace?

Amberlea Tribble: I have been blessed with the experiences I’ve had at PwC, and have been surrounded by talented women from clients, to engagement team members. The first project I worked on was an initial public offering for a women-run company. It was incredibly empowering for me to see the success that these women achieved by believing in and betting on themselves. The engagement team itself was led by a first-year female partner, who is one of the most impressive people I’ve had the opportunity to work for. On this project I was able to watch not only the client, but also my engagement team break business obstacles. 

Juanita Girardo: Women bring a unique and valuable perspective to the workplace that can help bridge differences to bringing people together. Our perspectives can help foster more creativity and innovation, and can create a more comfortable and inclusive atmosphere that helps to support an equitable workplace. 

Amanda Gosselin: I think visibility is the biggest thing here. In my time at the firm, there has been incredible growth in the number of female-identifying directors and partners, and specifically those with diverse backgrounds. I used to think that it would be nearly impossible to make partner unless you gave up other things that were important in life (family, friends, hobbies), and while it’s certainly not easy, it’s been great to see so many women show that becoming a partner is attainable.

Anaizat Hereim: Throughout my career I have seen women become more visible in leadership roles, specifically across the aerospace and defense industry. This is a positive change for our society as it allows for a greater diversity of voices and perspectives to be represented in decision-making positions.

Talat Mangla: When I was a younger parent with two kids under the age of two, I recall a time during busy season where I’d spent very few hours sleeping and was up all night with sick kids. There was a female partner I worked with who understood and empathized with that situation - when I called her to ask to reschedule a review meeting, she said it wasn’t a problem and reaffirmed that my family and their health comes first. It was refreshing working for a woman who excelled in her career but also modeled managing life with work and young kids so well. 

Q: When it comes to advancing equity and career development for women, allyship can play a critical role in opening doors to new opportunities. How has sponsorship/allyship played a role in your professional career? 

Aashna Gupta: During my first year at PwC, my ally encouraged me to voice my opinions because he trusted that I had the required knowledge to bring new ideas. His coaching helped me to feel more confident, even if my opinions differed from those in the room.

Juanita: Allyship has played a critical role in my professional success. I had a female leader in a previous role who saw my potential and took it upon herself to coach me and encourage me throughout my professional development. She not only acted as a mentor in the workplace, but she also got to know me on a personal level. She was a key role model as I transitioned into the corporate world as a first-time mother. Her lessons and examples as both a leader and a mother have empowered me to get to where I am today. And at an organizational level, it’s really important when organizations promote flexible work arrangements that allow for work-life flexibility, such as what PwC prioritizes through My+. When leaders foster inclusive environments where everyone's ideas and perspectives are valued and where people have personalization within their career, it can have an impact on how women can advance in their careers.

Amberlea: During my professional career, I have had numerous, incredible sponsors, both official and unofficial. These are people that have gone out of their way to coach and mentor me, enabling my ability to navigate the nuances of the Deals practice and the complexities of client work. I started work completely virtual, knowing only one person in the practice. She encouraged me to get involved in various reinvest groups at the firm and to raise my hand for opportunities, even when I wasn’t confident in my own abilities. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know if I would have found my confidence or had the wonderful experience that I have had at the firm. 

Talat Mangla: One of the cognitive biases we fall prey to is affinity bias -- mentors unconsciously gravitate to mentees that are similar to them in interests, beliefs or backgrounds. Allies can make a point to mentor and champion those who have different experiences than their own, and advocate for opportunities to foster more equitable advancement. I know this from experience, as I worked with a partner for many years in audit who nominated me for a new opportunity to transform the audit space. It led to a tour that eventually led me to my current role in product management. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity if he hadn’t nominated me. 

Q: Seeing women in leadership roles can inspire girls and young women to reach higher and dream bigger. Who has influenced your ambitions?

Amanda: I worked with a female Trust Solutions Partner in San Francisco for a few years when I was in the audit practice and to this day, she is one of my favorite people to have worked for. She was tough, but she was always fair and willing to hear my point of view. She took the time to get to know us personally and confirm the team built trust with each other in and outside of work hours. She’s continued to be a mentor even once I moved on to other roles and I’m extremely grateful for this. 

Amberlea: My grandmother has influenced me so much throughout my career. She was born into poverty in a small West Texas town to immigrant parents, who themselves never obtained any formal education. Her father built cabinets in exchange for English lessons for his four children. As a little girl, my grandmother loved math and dreamed of becoming an engineer. She was often mocked for dreaming too big but never let other people’s opinions deter her. She faced incredible hardship in her early life, including as a teenage mother, but she never gave up on her dream -- he became one of the first female civil engineers at a chemical company. 

Juanita: There are many female leaders and colleagues that have positively influenced me but one that sticks out is a female partner who exemplified the qualities of a true leader during a recent personal hardship. She was incredibly supportive, checked in on me frequently, reminded me that my health and my family were most important, and encouraged me to take as much time off as I needed. It was refreshing to feel supported and cared for at work when I needed it the most.

Q: As a woman in accounting, what advice would you give to women who are beginning to pursue careers in the field? 

Amanda: You are equal, so if anyone ever makes you feel like you’re not, speak up – whether it’s directly to the person that’s making you feel that way, or a mentor that you trust. 

Amberlea: Take chances and say yes to opportunities, even if they are outside your comfort zone. I was never a person that took risks; however, I decided to take a risk when I joined the firm in a practice group that I knew no one in. During my time at PwC, I have been involved in our Inclusion Networks, and with efforts like serving as a My+ activator and on our Deals staff council, both in my local office and nationally. I’ve also had the opportunity to work on different projects that were outside my skillset or market team. All of these perceived risks that I took, have turned out to be the best decisions that I’ve made.

Consulting Solutions Manager Alyman Ouattara

Aashna Gupta, Consulting Solutions Manager

Products & Technology Director Karen Fraser

Juanita Giraldo, Consulting Solutions Senior Associate

Products & Technology  Senior Associate Evins Trajean

Amanda Gosselin, Consulting Senior Manager

Consulting Solutions Manager Samuel Wells

Anaizat Hereim, Consulting Solutions Manager

Business Services  Senior Manager Brigine Marte-Obeng

Amberlea Tribble, Consulting Solutions Senior Associate

Malachi Kirk Trust Solutions While You Work Fellow

Talat Mangla, Trust Solutions Director

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Kiva Starr

Kiva Starr

External Communications Leader, PwC US

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