Women in finance panel


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MSc Finance student Yodhita Maureen Romindo shares her insights from the Women in Finance panel discussion during Women at Imperial week. This was an enlightening event that featured accomplished women panellist speakers who have soared to success in the finance industry.

Attendees heard firsthand accounts of their personal journeys, triumphs and challenges as they shared the valuable lessons, they have learned along their career paths. It was also an opportunity to connect with like-minded professional, exchange ideas and build network connections. 

Why I attended the event

As soon as I heard about the Women in Finance event, I was instantly excited to join, and learn who the panellists would be. As a woman looking to pursue a career in finance, I was eager to hear from accomplished women who have successfully navigated and excelled in a male-dominated field. When the speakers were announced, my excitement grew even more. It felt like such a privilege to meet these powerful female leaders in finance. I was also looking forward to learning about the initiatives and changes implemented within the industry to foster a more inclusive and equitable environment. On top of that, I hoped to network with professionals and peers, expanding my understanding and connections within the finance community. 

As a woman looking to pursue a career in finance, I was eager to hear from accomplished women who have successfully navigated and excelled in a male-dominated field.

The Women in Finance panel

Dr. Lara Cathcart - Academic Director, MSc Finance Suite Programmes. Lara had a keynote on increasing female representation in finance set the tone for the discussion, highlighting the role of education in shaping the future.

Madalena Godinho Ramos - Managing Director at Blackstone Credit & Insurance. Madalena shared the importance of adaptability and exploring various roles in finance, which illustrated the diverse opportunities available in the field.

Sarah Beian - Head of Sales, DACH Sell-Side Banks at Bloomberg. Sarah shared insights on mentorship and building supportive networks, emphasising the collective effort needed to uplift women in finance.

Roya Rahnejat - Growth Execution Manager at Howden Insurance Broking. Roya discussed the evolving nature of work-life balance in finance, highlighting the industry's efforts to become more inclusive and flexible. Her perspective shed light on the changing dynamics of the finance workplace to accommodate diverse life situations.

Adriana Enna - Director, Public Policy Europe and UK at Credit Suisse. Adriana spoke about the self-imposed barriers that women often face. This was a powerful reminder about the importance of self-advocacy and not placing a 'glass ceiling' on oneself.

Women in finance panel discussion
Women in Finance panel

My key takeaways 

One piece of advice from the panellists really struck a chord with me. It was a quote from Adriana Ennab, who said, "a lot of times, you're putting that glass ceiling there yourself." This statement was a real eye-opener. It made me realise how often we, especially as women in a field like finance, can unconsciously limit ourselves. Her emphasis on self-advocacy was captured in powerful words: "If you know you're good and you know what you're doing is right, you have to ask for what you want,".

It served as a crucial reminder of the importance of self-belief and assertiveness, especially in a finance industry where women are often underrepresented.

Her words inspired me to not only recognise my value but also to actively ensure that others recognise it too. It was a powerful lesson in breaking free from self-imposed limitations and embracing the potential for success without constraints.

Networking opportunities

I had a fantastic opportunity to network with a diverse group of attendees, which was one of the highlights of the experience. I met many students from a variety of disciplines at Imperial College London, including undergraduates, postgraduates, and alumni, as well as students from other universities. This diversity really showcased how finance is an inclusive industry, open to people from all sorts of academic fields. A particularly memorable encounter was with a physics student from Imperial. She shared her journey about what attracted her to pursue a career in finance. Despite her strong background in science, she was fascinated by the analytical and problem-solving aspects of finance, which she found paralleled the complexities she enjoyed in Physics. This conversation was a revelation to me; it highlighted how the interdisciplinary nature of finance can offer exciting career paths for those with non-traditional backgrounds.

Women in finance panel discussion

Applying learnings in my own career

From the event, I found several strategies and approaches particularly valuable for my future career in finance. Sarah Beian mentioned the importance of networking, "speak to your female network but also to your male network, because you will find allies as well from men”. This advice resonated with me as it highlighted the value of building a diverse professional network. Additionally, Madalena Godinho Ramos spoke about the necessity of adapting to change in the dynamic world of finance. She stated, "the ability to face change. You have to embrace change, because the world is ever evolving”. Her words reinforced the importance of being flexible and open to new opportunities and directions in my career. These insights from the panellists have significantly shaped my approach to building a successful career in the finance industry, reminding me of the importance of networking, adaptability, and embracing change.

The entire discussion made me see the existing gaps more clearly and the efforts being made to bridge them, motivating me to be part of creating a more inclusive finance world, where diversity is not just accepted but actually celebrated.

Building gender diversity and equality in finance

The panel discussion was an eye-opening experience for me, particularly regarding gender diversity and equality in the finance sector. Dr. Lara Cathcart's keynote on the underrepresentation of women in finance, both in industry and academia, was particularly inspiring. She noted, "a more balanced gender environment in the workplace encourages greater female participation, creating a more equitable space". This highlighted the crucial need for systemic changes in the industry.

Additionally, Madalena Godinho Ramos shared her personal journey, "for five years I was the only woman in the investment team... I need to be twice as good. I need to work twice as hard... I wish I had enjoyed the ride more because I think in some parts of my career I was so stressed and so overwhelmed". Her story outlined the challenges of being a woman in finance, while emphasising the importance of self-belief and enjoying one's successes.

Yodhita and guest panellist - women in finance event

Advice for students seeking a career in finance

The panellists stressed the importance of resilience, self-belief, and the willingness to face challenges.

“If everything comes easy, you will never be ready for the real world,” - Adriana Ennab

"One of the things that I'm learning from my boss is how to speak up... if we victimise ourselves then it's going to be a harder journey to overcome” - Roya Rahnejat

"Be open to global opportunities and the willingness to adapt to new environments" - Sarah Beian

These insights provide valuable guidance for students interested in finance, emphasising the necessity of resilience, adaptability, and assertiveness.