Name: Laraine McKinnon
Job: Advocating for American retirement readiness and security thru employer sponsored retirement savings plans
Industry: Financial Services
What initially attracted you to The CLUB? What keeps you engaged?
I am a big believer in women’s leadership and using the power of an inspired network to get women to the next level. I especially like the idea of the CLUB being an “incubator of women’s leadership”, which is why I offered to build a formal Incubator program to help provide a boost for a small group of CLUB members each year. The CLUB is just starting to uncover its potential – and that keeps me engaged and excited
How do you see The CLUB evolving?
The CLUB is gaining momentum. There are so many opportunities for our members to grow – learning from the strong content of events, taking opportunity to network, participating in the mentoring programs – and to give back through providing their own leadership on CLUB initiatives. I hope people take full advantage of it.
I also see the CLUB taking a leadership position of its own – in connecting other women’s organizations, in helping redefine an inclusive workforce, in growing the pipeline of women ready for more powerful positions whether in corporations or on Boards. I hope we become the ‘go-to’ for recruiting and networking.
What role has mentorship played in your career?
I have a few mentors as well as an executive sponsor. It took me a long time to understand how to make use of a mentor – the trick for me was asking my mentors open ended, somewhat unstructured questions. My executive sponsor changed the game for me when he provided unequivocal support.
What has surprised you about your industry?
This is less about my industry and more about corporate America more generally: I’m surprised by how challenging it is to drive real change. I think we all find this to be true even of ourselves in various ways – humans are slow to make changes even when we know the change is truly beneficial. (Think of dieting, saving money, exercising, quitting smoking, etc.) I spend a lot of time with academics on behavioral finance, reading the literature around habits and figuring out how to methodically influence change. This has implications for my work in helping Americans save for retirement – but also for the CLUB as we try to incent and inspire significant improvements in the number of women leading key businesses and initiatives.
If you can share one piece of advice that you know now about navigating your career, what would that be?
Women need to build an external network and become more publicly known. Many of us keep our head down and do the very best we can at our jobs and don’t find the time to network externally, or publish, or -god forbid!- speak publicly. But we need to showcase and grow our expertise. A strong external network gives us support, opportunities and a reality check (on our skills, leadership, achievements).
I’m a sailboat racer – it’s a big part of why I moved to the Bay Area. I met my husband Steve when we were racing against each other in a national regatta; we raced ocean or Bay nearly every weekend for 10 years and accumulated two boats along the way. Although I don’t get much opportunity to race anymore (we have two busy girls, 7 & 8 years old) there’s hope: my 8 year old just went through Stanford University’s kids sailing program and loved it!