Women in Municipal Finance Series

For 2024, MFOA is celebrating the trailblazers and resilient women in Ontario's municipal finance sector. On March 8, we kicked off our "Women in Municipal Finance Series" with a lively panel discussion and will continue the momentum with monthly articles featuring the industry's leaders and up-and-coming professionals. Check back every month through this webpage, our e-Newsletter, or our LinkedIn page.

Women in Municipal Finance Series: Eliza McLaren on the Value of Mentorship

As part of our “Women in Municipal Finance Series”, MFOA is highlighting inspiring and trailblazing women across Ontario’s municipal finance sector. This month, we met with Eliza McLaren, Senior Budget Advisor at York Region. Eliza discusses the value of mentorship and how MFOA has helped her build long-lasting connections.

The Importance of Mentorship

Eliza: One of the most helpful tools for my career was getting a mentor, someone that I can learn from and bounce ideas off of. When I sought out a mentor, I wanted to find someone who excelled in areas that I struggle in.

My mentor is a previous manager of mine. I connected with her because we both value self care and mindfulness in life. I admire many of her qualities, like how she holds herself, communicates, and handles conflict. She has held senior roles and has had opportunities to try a variety of positions. I think it’s important to learn from people in positions that you see yourself holding in the future.

We have established a strong, honest relationship with one another, which I think is important in a mentor-mentee relationship.

Mentorship is all about learning from each other. I’ve had colleagues that I’ve mentored myself and they find value in hearing about my experiences, even when I didn’t have a perfect experience. Those insights are valuable and I look for that in my own mentors as well.

On Inspiring Inclusion

Eliza: To inspire inclusion in a team you need to make sure that everyone has a chance to be involved. Take the time to make connections with people who may need more encouragement and one-on-one time to feel comfortable in a new environment. It’s important that everyone has a voice; everyone brings a unique perspective to the table and they should be heard.

Embracing Change

Eliza: My biggest advice for women joining the municipal finance sector is to not fear change. Change is the only constant in life and if you’re scared of change, you’ll miss out on opportunities.

You can be the catalyst for change by sharing your ideas. Everyone has their own opinion and perspective. By sharing your own you can inspire new ideas. Let your voice be heard!

On How to Make Your Voice Heard

Eliza: While it can be intimidating to speak up, it’s important to remember that your opinions and perspectives matter too. Don’t let your fear of what other people may think of you prevent you from giving your perspective. Another strategy is to ask a trusted colleague for feedback after a meeting or presentation. Getting feedback can be reassuring and will help your confidence.

On Managing Imposter Syndrome

Eliza: I still experience imposter syndrome, but you have to recognize it for what it is. Imposter syndrome can affect all aspects of your life, but when you share your fears with others, you’ll see that many people go through it too. My friends and I always say, “don’t talk about my friend like that!” whenever one of us is speaking negatively about ourselves. I would never talk about my friends the way I talk about myself sometimes. Telling myself to “stop talking about my friend like that” helps to bring me back to reality.

MFOA and the Importance of Networking

Eliza: I’ve been involved with MFOA for eight years, and I think that it’s one of the best communities in the municipal finance sector. Through MFOA, I’ve made so many connections outside of York Region by participating in committees, events, and conferences. These experiences have been invaluable.

I started out in the NPN Committee where I connected with a colleague (and friend). When she joined York Region we arranged weekly coffee chats and now connect on a regular basis. While we both work in Corporate Finance at York Region, it’s a large department and we don’t work on the same team. Without the NPN Committee I would have never made that connection. Through MFOA I’ve met many people who I know I can reach out to for advice or to just bounce ideas off of.

Women in Municipal Finance Series -  Past Articles


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