“When you need help or advice, ask for it! For many women, asking for help is a challenge. We get in our heads that we will be seen as weak or that it is a sign that we can’t cope or that we are not really good enough. Asking for help is not a weakness – it is wisdom.”
-Lori Novak, wegg® Foreign Exchange Specialist
Meet wegg®’s Foreign Exchange Specialist, Lori Novak! Lori has been a valued member of the wegg® team for two years, and her company, Associated Bank, is an official wegg® sponsor. wegg® Communications Intern, Lucy Brooks, interviewed Lori to learn about her professional background and personal mission to empower women entrepreneurs.
Lucy Brooks: What does your role as a wegg® Specialist consist of?
Lori Novak: I have been the Foreign Exchange wegg® Specialist for about two years now. In this role I advise female entrepreneurs on how to send or receive payments in foreign currency, on the importance of billing their customers or paying their vendors in the local currency, not in U.S. dollars, and on the different tools available to manage their foreign currency risk.
LB: What has your professional background been like?
LN: I hold a master’s degree in Personnel and Human Resource Development and my first full-time position out of graduate school was as a Human Resource Generalist at a global multi-asset brokerage firm. However, about a year into that role I was approached to work on the foreign exchange trading desk. I worked there 12 years prior to joining Associated Bank.
LB: How did you first get involved with wegg®?
LN: Shortly after I started at Associated Bank, I was looking to attend networking events that that had an international focus tailored to business owners and company representatives. I was so impressed with the quality of the wegg® event and networking opportunity that I made it a priority to support wegg®’s mission.
LB: How did your company, Associate Bank, become a wegg® sponsor?
LN: Associated Bank recognizes our success is dependent upon strong relationships with the communities where we live and serve. Each year we support thousands of community-based nonprofits through charitable grants and sponsorships. Our philanthropic efforts are focused on nonprofits with programs that align with our organizational values, strategies and business goals, and whose programs provide long-term solutions to the unique issues of the communities we serve. Associated Bank prioritizes grant requests that are related to small business development, which makes wegg® a great organization to partner with.
LB: What part of wegg®’s mission, “To educate women business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide on how to go global so they can run healthier businesses and create a new future for themselves, their families and their communities,” resonates with you? How does your work connect with or support this mission?
LN: Being in foreign exchange, I am exposed to the global markets and companies doing business internationally on a daily basis. I also co-chair the Chicago chapter of Associated Bank’s Women’s Network and have a personal interest in supporting women. Additionally, Associated Bank is committed to small business development in the communities that we serve.
LB: In your career, what has been your most meaningful project or experience to work on or be a part of?
LN: In the four-and-a-half years that I have been at Associated Bank and involved with the Associated Women’s Network (AWN), I witnessed our women’s colleague resource group advocate to change Associated Bank’s benefits. I am proud to say these changes included a maternity and paternity leave policy and the addition of backup child and eldercare.
LB: What is the best business advice you have ever received?
LN: That I am my own best advocate. When it comes to self-advocacy, women often come up short. Women are amazing advocates for others, but not always for ourselves. It’s an important step that every woman needs to take if we want to see gender equality in the workplace.
LB: What is your advice to aspiring women in business and women entrepreneurs?
LN: When you need help or advice, ask for it! For many women, asking for help is a challenge. We get in our heads that we will be seen as weak or that it is a sign that we can’t cope or that we are not really good enough. Asking for help is not a weakness – it is wisdom. To develop your business, you need to ask for help in order to progress. There are so many great free or low-cost programs for business owners, like wegg®, but you have to seek them out. This is a great reminder for all women as we begin Women’s History Month.
Lori and Associated Bank’s commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs is inspiring. wegg® is grateful for the guidance and support Lori has provided to so many women entrepreneurs over the years. To learn more about our Specialist program, and how experts like Lori can help you, visit our website here.