HOW a Canadian girl made good in the New York business world to the extent of organizing and becoming one of the heads of a million and a half dollar corporation, is told in an interesting interview with Miss Ethel M. Vance, who only three years ago was pounding out an existence as a stenographer in Vancouver, British Columbia. The story of how she went to i New York to enter the stage as a dancer, of how she sought and found opportunity j to earn a living while taking dancing lesj sons, of how in the interest of her work she > forgot even her appointments with Alviene, | the great dancing master; of her ambition, her perseverance, hard work and energy, and of how, through her indomitable courage and spirit, she worked and fought her way in open competition with livewire business men, to the position she now holds as secretary and sales-manager of the Peerless Mortgage Corporation, is one that will interest and encourage every keen-minded and advanced woman who has entered, or who has thoughts of entering, upon a business career.
Miss Vance was born in Cedarville, Ontario, and after a public and high school \ education in a neighboring town, she went to Vancouver and there took up a business course. The fact that she finished the course in the shortest possible period of time, and that in little more than six months from the time she arrived in Vancouver she had established herself in an office of her own, where for more than two years she enjoyed a successful business as a public stenographer, proved early her business abilities and her keen determination to succeed. Opportunity has never come knocking at her door; during the whole of her short but successful career she has never given it a chance, but has always gone forth in search of it, and realizing that she was gaining no further experience as a public stenographer, she seized the first chance to enter the employ of the Vancouver court stenographer. This she found a strenuous life, often working far into the night after a hard and tiring day. Always learning, however, and increasing her knowledge of things generally, as well as her speed on the typewriter, she was content to stay, the only respite from her labors being her summer vacations of two months which she spent at her old home near Toronto, Ontario, and at the Y.W. C.A. camp at Whytecliff, close to Vancouver.
A keen athlete and enthasiastic sportswoman always, she soon had charge of a junior athletic and dancing class at the camp. Anxious always to learn all there is to know of a thing in which she has once interested herself, she began to practise toe dancing and before long had mastered the art. Among her friends were two girls who taught dancing, and during long winter evenings when Miss Vance was not working she practised with them, and they often talked of life on the stage, and its attractions. With no other backing than that of an invincible spirit, plenty of pluck and an ability to pound out one hundred words a minute on the typewriter, she left Vancouver for New York, and the Great White Way, in company with her two friends, three years ago.
The fact that she arrived on the first day of New York’s worst month, February (1918), she chose to interpret as a good omen, and she fought bravely and cheerfully on through months of heatless Mondays, meatless Tuesdays, lightless Wednesdays, and what would have been hopeless every-days to any girl with less courage, faith and cheerfulness than she possessed.
“Those first few weeks were terrible,” she confessed, "and we spent our time trying to keep warm.” She obtained a position as stenographer with an insurance firm, and then it was that she began to realize that her heart was in her head— not her toes. She became interested in the selling end of the business, and after a fruitless attempt to lend her services to the United States Government, she became attached to the firm of a mortgage company, and broke into the selling game with a vim and enthusiasm which was not long in bringing her promotion. After several months of successful selling she became head saleslady of the company, and then it was that the many staunch friends she had made during her stock and bond aampaigns began to urge her to go into business for herself. She obtained the interest of a salesman of the same firm, went into partnership with him and inside of a few months after their first plans had been made they had successfully incorporated a mortgage company for one and a half million dollars. Their main office is in Brooklyn, and their firm is now a wellestablished and flourishing concern, and growing every day under the guidance and direction of its very capable head.
A/fISS VANCE has a great deal to be proud of, but the only fact that she seems to think worthy of mention is that she is the only woman on the Board of Directors of twenty-four men. “I am very proud of that,” she said, and well she
might be, for it is an honor that does not come to many girls of her age, and proves more than anything else her standing among business men. She also has the honor to be Chairman of the Business and Finance Committee of the Central Business Women’s Club of New York City.
She is possessed of a perplexing personality with a charm all its own and when in her office one is almost afraid of her so abrupt and sharp is she and so intent and keen on business and business only. She has the gift of instant decision and never hesitates at choosing the hardest way if she deems it the right one, nor spares herself or others in the accomplishment of any task. . At a moment’s notice her blue grey eyes can harden into pin points of glinting steel and flash forth blue flame at the cause of her annoyance, and once that change has taken place there is no altering the course upon which the mind behind them has determined. When at home however and away from the office and her work, those same steely gray eyes are soft and sparkling with fun and the joy of living, the love of her companions and surroundings, and she is ready for anything in the way of a lark.
Her keenest interest is in the insurance department. “I’m crazy about insurance,” she stated, “but I’m studying banking and business law now. In order to make small loans the business has to be brought under the banking laws, so I am taking a course— not that I will use it much, but I just want to master any little difficulties that may crop up.” There in a nutshell is the secret of her success, “her determination to master little difficulties.” Just what big difficulties Miss Vance has had to master probably no one will ever know, for she insists upon making light of her achievements. The hard knockdown blows of fate that are bound to come to women in competition with men in the New York business world seemed only to have a tendency to make her smile the harder. She believes that any girl can succeed in business or anything else if she will work hard enough and stick to it. She has just signed a ten years’ contract with the directors of the Peerless Mortgage Corporation which will net her a yearly income that many a successful man might envy, and her faith in her own sex is such that a great deal of that salary will be spent in setting girls up in business, and giving them the start which she fought and won for herself.
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