Meet Program Operations Finance Director Anna Greenberg
“I lead by example. I’m always willing to help you solve a problem so we can reach our goals together.”
Anna Greenberg is an accomplished financial professional with 20 years of international experience in finance and operations management. After spending 15 years in global finance roles at corporations such as IBM, Omnicom and Deloitte, Anna found herself enticed into the world of New York City start-ups, where she fell in love with the dynamic energy, sense of purpose and meaningfulness of the work.
Greenberg grew up in Brazil, and later worked in Mexico City. She speaks fluent English, Portuguese and Spanish. Now, with 15 years living in the USA, she currently considers herself a New Yorker.
At Noodle, Greenberg oversees the financial operations of the company’s University partnerships and online programs, managing university budgets, developing financial modeling and delivering crucial information to leadership regarding the company’s performance.
What public figure today has had the most influence on your life and why? Is there a quote of hers that resonates with you today?
Since my time living in Mexico City, I have always admired the artist Frida Kahlo.
I am inspired by her strength and determination to be artistically free and bold about her points of view. Her work is colorful, provocative, and puts her amongst the elite artists of the world, a group often dominated by men. Through her self-portraits, she tells her life story, and declares, “I am my own muse. I am the subject I know best, the subject I want to better.” Her story and work are of an unapologetic woman claiming her own identity. That in my mind is a confident leader.
What female figure in your personal life has been the most influential to you and why? Is there a personal quote that resonates with you?
Without a doubt, my mother, Irene, and her inspiring life story. Irene grew up on a farm in rural Brazil in the 1940s, with limited access to education and information about the world around her. She was a woman ahead of her time, with a business-like mind and a fearless determination to succeed. In fact, the first airplane flight she ever took was when she moved to NYC in the late ‘60s, without knowing a word of English.
Throughout her life, she always remained true to her principles of kindness and generosity supported by the belief that she would overcome any obstacles that came along her way. Her confidence and strength led her to open her own clothing factory, followed by a boutique and ultimately her own hotel back in Brazil. Her story is a testament to the power of believing in your dreams.
As a woman, what are the biggest challenges you face today in the business world and why?
Great leaders lead confidently by being bold with their points of view and displaying strength, which in a business context for women is a daily struggle. In my case, an added challenge is that English is also my second language. My accent sometimes leads others to perceive me as less experienced or even naive when I'm making critical business points. Oftentimes it can take a little longer for others to trust my point of view, even though it’s always carefully considered with purpose and intent. My solution in today’s business world as a foreign woman working in the USA is to remind myself to follow the example of the inspiring leaders by trusting and believing in myself, even when faced with doubt.
With regard to pay disparity, today women in the U.S. earn 78 cents to every dollar that men earn. Why do you think this is so, and why do you think it is taking so long to close the pay gap?
One reason is that we women are uncomfortable in asking for what we are worth. We need to start taking matters more into our own hands. It will take discussions, not only among women, but also with men. We need to decide what we are worth and then ask for it.
List 5 influential women today who you think will have a great impact over the next 5-10 years and why?
As a Brazilian I am a true believer that education can improve the world. All my teachers in Brazil - from kindergarten to high school - were women. They are the real influencers, the true leaders educating and empowering individuals to meaningfully impact the world's trajectory.
What elements or traits do you think a strong female leader should have and why?
I believe that all leaders should have the ability to inspire a team and be a team player, too. That’s where the magic is, working as a team. A leader should also be someone who makes collaborating fun. I myself always look for leaders who want to teach what they have learned, instigating curiosity and unlocking the potential in others.
What is it about your background that successfully positioned you for your current role at Noodle?
After spending most of my career in Corporate Finance, I have the experience in processes and structure that are crucial for a fast-growing startup like Noodle.
In addition, my background of working in different countries means I am used to collaborating with a variety of people from different backgrounds, and diverse cultures. I am exactly where I want to be, applying the lessons of my corporate experience to Noodle, sharing my knowledge with my colleagues and clients.
How do you build momentum as a leader among diverse stakeholders at Noodle?
By doing what I’m doing: being reliable and listening carefully to people's needs even when I am the sole point of contact. I am intentionally very calm, very diplomatic, so everyone feels very comfortable with me.
What is the most effective tool in your leadership arsenal and why?
I lead by example. I’m always willing to help you solve a problem so we can reach our goals together. I am very reliable. You can feel confident that each task will be done successfully. I’m excited by challenges and always motivated to share what I know.
How do/can women “pay it forward” in encouraging and supporting other women in the workforce around them? Have you yourself experienced this in your own career, either through your actions or the actions of other women?
I’m always looking for inspiration at work, especially from women who are very different from me. At the same time, I am always searching for all the little things that I can change to become more effective as a leader of others.
Mae Jemison, the first black woman to travel in space, has said, “Never limit your imagination because of others’ limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.” How does that quote resonate with you?
It means that your dreams are your dreams, so believe in yourself.