Cecilia Harvey

Most people dread turning 40. I can’t wait! Seriously!

My 30's were a time of significant growth, professionally and personally. There are lessons I learned during my 30’s that brought me peace, positivity, and progress towards achieving my life goals. These lessons allowed me to recognise my power and design a life I love, and they're things I could have benefited from knowing even well before I hit my third decade.

Lesson 1: Create your own definition of success.

Never compare your life to everyone else as a benchmark for success. Despite having a great job, amazing friends, being in good health and starting a life in London I remember turning 30 and thinking I was a failure.  I felt like a failure because I felt like a society reject because I wasn’t married, with two kids and living in the country. During my 30s I learned to be honest with myself about what I wanted from life, create my own definition of success and not try to conform to how others thought I should be living my life.

Lesson 2: Know when to hit the eject button.

Rather than hitting the eject button, sometimes we remain too long in bad situations and have toxic people in our lives. When I was a candidate for a big job promotion and needed to focus on my career, I stopped socialising with people that were negative influences. I surrounded myself with positive individuals that had similar interests and goals. To accomplish our goals and live productive lives, we need to hit the eject button and eliminate the waste in our lives.

Lesson 3: Create options for yourself.

In my 30's I learned to create options for myself rather than waiting to be told my options. Don’t stay in a bad job or wait to be told if you are going to get a promotion. Always interview even if you like your job. Interviewing allows you to make connections and understand the many options in your industry. Leverage recruiters to understand the salary and benefits offered for people in your role at other companies. Having options will give you peace and always ensure you are in a position of power.

Lesson 4: Balance is a myth. Instead, prioritize

I used to always tried to achieve a work / life “balance” but the reality is that there will never be a perfect balance. Balance is a myth. Rather than striving for balance...I prioritised. Priorities can shift on a daily, if not hourly basis. Sometimes things just need to get done and all your effort must focus on that priority. There are times where I need to re-prioritise and focus on work project, my gym routine, time with my family. Prioritising allowed me to focus and achieve my prioritised tasks very well rather than spreading myself thin trying to achieve a balance. Prioritise, focus and you will achieve great things.

Lesson 5: Appreciate the people you love.

One of the most important lessons I learned is that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Be sure to create time with loved ones. Life is about creating memories. Get off the hamster wheel of life and enjoy the people you love.  


With over 20 years on Wall Street, Cecilia is a tech start up founder, a senior women working in FinTech, and a champion of diversity in technology. Her previous roles include being the COO of Citigroup Markets and Securities Services Technology, and positions with Morgan Stanley, Barclays Capital and IBM Consulting.  Cecilia is the founder and chair of, Tech Women Today, the global platform to showcase women in technology, and a resource for women who want to be leaders and increase their influence in the workplace.