Advice for the Next Generation of Women Financial Communications Leaders

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it’s a poignant time to reflect on the strides women have made, particularly in industries where they have historically been underrepresented. While more women have joined the financial services sector, progress in leadership roles remains slow. Against this backdrop, First Horizon Bank made female executives a priority, in which they continue to set industry standards of excellence in non-traditional roles such as finance, risk, credit, technology and operations.

In an interview, Beth Ardoin, Chief Communications Officer at First Horizon, shares insights into her career journey and offers advice for the next generation of women communications leaders.

What led you to your career in the finance industry?

Beth Ardoin: I began my career in media before transitioning to banking about 20 years ago. My degree was in journalism, so moving to the banking industry felt like a risk. I sought advice, took a leap of faith and entered the male-dominated field of finance. Despite my unfamiliarity, I saw the potential for growth. Coming from a family that values strong women, I felt empowered to take this next step in my career.

What role has mentorship played in your career?

Ardoin: I’ve had several great mentors, each of whom played a crucial role in my personal and professional development. Their support led to incredible opportunities, such as serving as publisher and overseeing human resources, corporate real estate and other areas that were initially outside my wheelhouse. Each experience provided valuable learning opportunities that have contributed to my growth and evolution. No one naturally possesses all the skills, attributes and answers. Over time, we emulate those we admire and respect, learning and developing from our experiences. It’s important throughout our careers to find strong mentors as well as to mentor others. It’s rewarding and an incredible way to support someone else throughout their professional journey.

What do you see changing as a communicator in the financial industry?

Ardoin: As financial communications continue to evolve, remaining relevant is a top priority. With technological advancements altering industries like ours at a rapid pace, we are now competing for attention in a world saturated with more channels and voices than ever before. Adapting to the communication preferences defined by target audiences fuels our efforts to find new ways to capture their attention. A good example of this is at First Horizon, where we are currently in the process of onboarding a new app for our associates to provide a user-friendly experience that will help cut through the communications clutter.

Share your experience as a woman in financial services communications—highlight challenges faced and the lessons we can learn.

Ardoin: I've been fortunate to receive strong support throughout my banking career, something that not all women in this industry may find. One of my challenges has been the ability to demonstrate the full value of our communication efforts. That can be difficult to measure at times, so establishing a record of success is critically important. Having a dedicated, talented team committed to collaboration and delivering high-quality work for overall company success is paramount. The most significant lesson I've learned, and can share, is the importance of surrounding oneself with the right support and talent.

Do you have any advice for women who are interested in becoming leaders in financial communications?

  • Take the Risk: Have the confidence in yourself to learn new things and to take on additional responsibilities. Unexpected opportunities can end up being the most beneficial, so don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.
  • Find a Mentor: Seek guidance from seasoned professionals, someone you admire or networking groups who can assist you in working toward the next step in your career. Include female leaders who are in a unique position to guide you along a path that can be difficult to navigate, one they’ve traveled themselves.
  • Be Ready to Adapt: The financial industry is constantly evolving, and as leaders, we must be equipped to adapt to these changes effectively and lead our organizations through them successfully. Communication plays a pivotal role in change management, and it is imperative for communication teams to remain proactive and nimble in implementing effective communication strategies to guide the organization through transitions seamlessly.