Women’s History Month Q&A with Jayana Mitchell

March is Women’s History Month, which celebrates women’s contributions to events in history and contemporary society. To mark the occasion, we are featuring several female employees at Sema4. In our second Q&A, Jayana Mitchell, Accounting Manager, talks about empowering her team and lessons learned from colleagues throughout her career.

What is your role at Sema4?

I currently hold the role of Accounting Manager in the Finance Department following two promotions since joining Sema4 almost four years ago. I strongly believe that the reason I have risen from one role to the next is because I care about my work. This is not just a paycheck for me, but also about personal growth. As the manager of four people, I want to provide value to my team. And, while technical skills are important, being able to manage with emotional intelligence allows me to handle my job and be mentally prepared. That is a priority for me.

What motivates you to work at Sema4?

I am always mindful to demonstrate to my team that if we work together, we can achieve common goals and exceed expectations. In my role now, I am the person that makes sure day-to-day activities are being completed. My goal is to develop my team and allow them to feel empowered. It is also important for me to be an asset for my own manager, so when tasks are delegated down to myself or my team, it gives all of us more exposure and boosts our experience.

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

Many other women have come before me, took a stand on their rights, and were able to do that in a world essentially created for men. This allows me to be where I am today. It’s not that women are better than men, but that women want to be treated the same. I am thankful to those women who endured and were brave enough to recognize the need for equality. Many women I have worked with have shared their stories of discrimination or bias. Women are just as capable and of value in the workplace.

Can you tell us about a female role model who has inspired you?

I will definitely never forget the first woman and Chief Operating Officer I worked for at my first internship when I was 19 years old. Her name was Robin, and she was the toughest woman I had ever seen. She worked on Wall Street and in management in the 1970’s, when it was a male-dominant industry. She didn’t finish college, but she pushed herself and commanded respect. It really opened my eyes because I learned that if you create your own path, people will move out of the way. You shouldn’t let people alter your progress and you can’t limit yourself based on another person’s beliefs.

Here at Sema4, I look to Emma Lee, Vice President of Technical Accounting, SEC and M&A Reporting, for her leadership not only from a technical perspective, but by how she leads her team. It helps me to absorb different management styles from others and then lead by example.

What barriers have you had to overcome to reach this point in your career?

The barrier I have dealt with the most is self-belief, or what I believed I was capable of. I’m still mastering the skill of having more faith in my abilities and that I don’t have all the answers. While I am structured and strive for perfection, I also realize the beauty in flexibility. You must learn what you can and then apply it. I feel I learn the most when I make mistakes because it’s an opportunity to get better.

What advice would you give to other women who are looking to build their careers?

When it comes to your career, my advice is to know what kind of lifestyle you want to live. Life requires a plan, and if you don’t have a plan, life will create one for you that you may not like. Be clear on your goals, know that it is OK to admit shortcomings, and then use them as a stepping stone. Learning can sometimes be painful, so give yourself time to learn and don’t rush.

In terms of work collaborations, it is important to develop healthy relationships. Be mindful of who you are working with, and don’t get stagnant. Lastly, don’t be resistant to change. It truly gives you the ability to adapt and grow.

_ _ _

Would you like to work with Jayana and our team at Sema4? To find out more about open positions, please visit our Careers page here.