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Insider Advice from Top Women at Auction Houses

Insider Advice from Top Women at Auction Houses

On Negotiation

“You are what you negotiate because I think that we don’t talk enough about money or about salaries and negotiating. These are very important things and I say to a lot of people to think to yourself the next time you go into a negotiation. Ask yourself, should I ask for more? It doesn’t mean you’re going to get it but it gets you into the framework of understanding that just because someone is telling you one thing doesn’t mean you can’t question the norm.”

—Lydia Fenet, Global Managing Director at Christie’s and Author of The Most Powerful Woman in the Room is You

On Maintaining Identity

“Be genuine, and maintain your own identity separate from the company. Someone once advised me to build a shield-like persona as a method of self-protection in an industry that can be very socially draining. Contrary to this method, I have found that the only way to upkeep the frequency of social events and interactions with people from vastly different backgrounds, is by not trying to be one of them.

Be genuine in your opinion, believe in your expertise, and uphold your integrity. Trust can only be earned if it is given. This might sound like an incredibly naïve approach, but I firmly believe it is what has saved me from losing sight of the larger picture.”

—Joanna Gong, Private Sales Director, Sotheby’s Jewels

On Self-Confidence

“‘When in doubt, wear red’. It is a terrific reminder to be brave and bold in those moments when you doubt yourself, but simultaneously solid practical advice for when I am inevitably rushing to a gala event and cannot decide what to wear on stage!”

—Jacqueline Towers-Perkins, Vice President, Auctioneer, & Director of Contemporary Art at Bonhams

On Digital Transformation

“The most important thing during a digital transformation is to be clear about what we mean by digitizing the company to the more traditional target group. That is, we provide you [the traditional client] with tools that simplify and improve your client experience. In addition to this, digital tools also mean that the communication directed to you is relevant and based on that we build a closer client relationship.”

—Louise Arén, CEO of Bukowskis Auction, Sweden

On Speaking Up

“The truth is, that there are societal expectations of female behavior that are often antithetical to leadership behavior, and that is something that we as women, need to reconcile with. With this in mind, one of the most important things I think someone can do to grow as a professional, as well as a person, is to become comfortable with speaking up. As simple as it may seem, being heard can be one of the most challenging hurdles for any young professional.”

—Johanna Flaum, International Director, Head of Post War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s New York

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