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How women can own their space and grow their careers

Written on May 11, 2023

By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager  

Heather Mesquita knew she didn’t want to give up her career when moving from Michigan to Brazil, and she didn’t have to thanks to technology and the trust from her team and clients.  

“I was really pleasantly surprised at how accepting everyone was with the more nontraditional work setup,” she said. 

Mesquita is the vice president of national accounts at Aiwyn and said when her husband got a promotion and the opportunity to move their family from Ann Arbor to Sao Paulo, Brazil, she was worried people might balk at her new working schedule of living in Brazil and traved to the US once a week every month. But since virtual meetings have become the norm, she found her clients were supportive of her new arrangement.   

The support she received was also earned from years of hard work and building relationships, said Mesquita, who will be on the panel covering “Owning Your Industry” at the Women, Wealth & Wellness Conference on July 20.   

Being intentional about learning has been crucial to growing as a leader, Mesquita said. She regularly takes learning courses through internal and external resources and says it’s helpful having a holistic view of how everything in the business fits together, and not just your area of expertise.  

Mesquita said she’s seen the accounting profession’s attitude toward working women evolving over her career, noting some of the comments she used to hear about women aren’t made anymore. 

“I think the more female leadership we have in the accounting industry helps and the world is changing,” Mesquita said. “But it's been a change in a good way over the last 15 years.”  

Mesquita encouraged women who have ambitions to learn or try new things to be unafraid to lean on their support system for help. Those growth opportunities are important moments in a career that shouldn’t be brushed aside just because it might present some initial challenges.  

“A lot of women, especially early in their careers, think that's something that's not possible for them because it would be such a burden on their families or their partners,” she said. “And a piece of advice I would give is don't be afraid to go to ask for that support and expect that support.”  


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