For every 40 male CEO’s that is interviewed, approximately 1 female CEO is interviewed. This is the case regardless of the choice of media, or the media outlet, men are just at the top more frequently than women. Still, this doesn’t stop us for reading about female executives who reach the top of the career charts, perhaps because we see it so rarely. Of those that do make it and are interviewed, we read the compact and contrite answers that sound as though they came out of a scripted success book, “hard work, determination, a belief in self, a great family” on and on so that half way through the article you have no interest in reading the remainder. Not so with Skout’s CFO Portia Kersten. For those who don’t know, Skout is the leading mobile app for meeting new people in the world. Beginning in just 2007, the startup has skyrocketed the success scale and continues to grow. Not only is Portia uncommon being in the Chief Financial Officer’s position, but she specializes in running startups. What’s even more differentiating about Portia is her honesty and her genuine candor.
No place is this more apparent than in an interview she gave to Huffington Post. While she may not be the first women to go from a poor upbringing to the pinnacle of success, she credits her imagination with getting her there. Now perhaps her folks helped her along by not having a television in the house, but irrespectively, she like most successful people grew to love books. She states that growing up reading authors like Charles Dickens helped her to see that it was possible to beat the odds. Apparently her love of literature was fostered at home as her parent’s named her Portia after the character in Shakesphere’s Merchant of Venice.
When confronted with the same question that is posed to all powerful women about a home and work balance, Portia is outright honest and says she doesn’t maintain a delicate balance. On the contrary, her answer is that she’s so busy she only has time for high priority tasks, be it at Skout or at home. She’s even candid about her husband’s description of her mantra, as he relates with rolled eyes, “efficiency in all things.” Not too many women would be comfortable giving such a personal insight to a nationally well-read magazine. She credits the founder of Parenting Magazine, Robin Wolaner, with being her mentor and teaching her how to persevere and push through difficult challenges in her life. When asked what advice she would give other aspiring female CFO’s she’s well-grounded in her answer of “having patience” and exercising logic, politeness and its repetition as the foundations for success. Read more about Portia in her interview with the Huffington Post here.