- Only 12.5% of CFOs of publicly traded companies are women, according to the Spencer Stuart Fortune 500 CFO Index.
- At 32 years old, Jamie Cohen is the youngest person in the C-suite of ANGI Homeservices, a company connecting home-care professionals with consumers.
- Mentors have been crucial to her career advancements, and Cohen herself wants to lead by example.
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Jamie Cohen stands out. For one, she’s a woman in the notoriously male-dominated world of the C-suite — and at 32, she’s also an unusually young CFO.
Cohen works at ANGI Homeservices, overseeing the financial side of the company’s mission to connect consumers with home-care professionals, for projects like kitchen remodeling and flooring. There are two things she attributes to her quick ascent up the corporate ladder, both of which she says are inextricably linked: taking on challenges, and being open to mentorship.
"I have a constant appetite for learning and just continually asking questions," Cohen told Business Insider. "Throwing myself into the unknown, and being willing to take risks, and take on things that I might not check every single box for. But I have the confidence in myself that I can figure it out, or I can ask people to give insight and input so that we can figure it out together."
A graduate of Wake Forest University in North Carolina, Cohen joined the corporate strategy team at digital marketplace HomeAdvisor (which would eventually become part of ANGI Homeservices) in 2011. She rocketed up the hierarchy over the next eight years, taking on roles like director of financial planning and analysis and senior vice president of finance, before being appointed CFO of ANGI Homeservices this March.
Cohen’s career trajectory is astonishing considering the results women usually obtain when they indicate interest in promotions: even though women ask for promotions just as much as men, they are 24% less likely to receive them.
Cohen says having supporters in her corner was key to navigating these waters.
"I think that willingness to put yourself out there and ask for input creates relationships, and ultimately advocates across the business," she said. "So if somebody’s contemplating promoting me, I have people around saying, ‘Yes, I know her and I totally support that,’ or ‘I’ve worked with her and I believe in what she’s contributed.’"
Why mentorships help women more than men
Without mentors, women in particular lose valuable insight into the realities of male-dominated business cultures.
Cohen explained that she worked with then-HomeAdvisor CEO Chris Terrill throughout her career to assume more responsibility within the company. Terrill was involved with planning her career development and path, especially when she considered going back to school to get her MBA.
"I had just an ongoing dialogue with Chris and other people that were in my mentorship circle," she said. Ultimately, Cohen says she told herself, "’I think that there’s more for me to learn here on the job and just a better path if I stick to it.’ And I think that that has played out well for me."
The results of PayScale’s Salary Survey show that for women, having someone in a position of power who is willing to advocate for them could help them move to higher-paying jobs — also known as a sponsor.
According to the report, each step up the corporate ladder sees an increase in sponsorship: 59.2% of managers, 63.1% of directors, and 65.5% of executives say they have a workplace sponsor.
Even when she was just starting out in the company, Cohen focused on creating strong relationships with mentors. This served her well when she transitioned to CFO: as it happened, she knew Glenn Schiffman, the CFO she’d go on to replace.
"I’d worked with Glen for quite a while at that time and built my working relationship with him," she said. "And so when he took the reins of CFO of ANGI HomeServices, it was a constant dialogue and kind of setting out and laying out the path for me to take over as CFO."
Over half of the ANGI Homeservices C-Suite is composed of women, according to Cohen. The organization is about 50% women overall, while the accounting division is 75% women.
"Being a young, female CFO of a public company, I also feel like I want to give that back in terms of hopefully inspiring and showing other women that finance is an accessible area to enter into," she said, "that it’s achievable, and kind of giving that back as well."
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