Iannetta is among the speakers at Canadian Lawyer's 2022 Women in Law Leadership Breakfast, Sept. 13
The post-pandemic hybrid working environment offers many advantages to lawyers juggling a career with responsibilities at home. However, maintaining flexibility while continuing to propel your career forward can be challenging – especially for women seeking leadership opportunities.
As a leader in the legal department at TD Bank, Diana Iannetta has always made a point of getting to know her team as individuals and taking an interest in their lives, so that she can help them to manage their work-life balance with empathy and understanding. One silver-lining of the pandemic was the opportunity to see a little more of people in their home lives to make this understanding even stronger, Iannetta says.
“I think the pandemic has made it easier because you are literally in people’s lives,” says Iannetta. “You’re watching people on a screen so you see that they have a dog or they have infants or they have older parents living with them.”
Iannetta will speak at Canadian Lawyer’s Women in Law Leadership Breakfast in Toronto on Sept. 13, 2022, in a panel session on “growing your career in a hybrid environment”.
As vice-president, co-global lead, legal disputes and investigations, global knowledge management and strategic enablement at TD, Iannetta’s strategy is to lead by example, so she always tells her team when she is leaving work early to attend a specific activity with her children or for another personal reason, and she encourages team members to do the same.
When it comes to growing your career in a hybrid environment, Iannetta advises women to tune out what others around you are doing and focus on what is best for you. Having once turned down a big role because it wasn’t the right time for her and her family, Iannetta worried that such an opportunity would not come around again, but she need not have worried.
“Women sometimes start to feel down because they see everyone else on the move, getting a new job or getting promoted, but you have to think about what’s best for you at the time,” she advises. “Sometimes staying in your role and doing a really great job and learning a lot is the right thing to do.” Having started her career in litigation in private practice, Iannetta went on to work at the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada in progressively senior roles, before joining TD in 2018. She was promoted to her current role in February, 2022, and now leads a team of around 50 professionals who manage litigation disputes and advise various lines of business on legal, regulatory and risk matters impacting the bank.
The dynamic of mentorship and sponsorship shifted considerably in the remote working environment of the pandemic, as people were forced to put more time and effort into finding a sponsor or a mentor, without the ease of seeing people in an office every day. Leaders should make these relationships a priority, in Iannetta’s view.
“People who are in a position to be sponsors or mentors have to appreciate how much effort and courage it takes someone to email you and ask you to have that conversation with them, so I think that it’s part of all of our jobs to carve that time out in our calendar to have conversations with people,” says Iannetta.
Relationship-building in the hybrid workplace can be more challenging so Iannetta also advises reaching out to people and starting each call with a casual conversation about your weekend or vacation plans for example, to get to know people as individuals.
If you are only in the office part-time, it is also important to be deliberate about how you use your time in the office, versus how you use your work time at home, to get the most out of the opportunities for relationship-building in each instance, Iannetta says.