Celebrating International Women’s Day 2019

Women in Finance 2019 – Balance for Better

It’s no surprise that encouraging diversity, being inclusive and nurturing potential talent within organisations is key to success, yet organisations need to do more.

The conversation about gender equality at work needs to continue, and Trade Finance Global continues to discuss the lack of progress achieved across the financial services sector and looks to ensuring improvements continue to be made across the board.

Today, as part of International Women’s Day and the #balanceforbetter campaign, we showcase inspirational women and their stories, from a range of finance sectors.

Doreen Fick

Product Manager, Absa Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB)

I am a qualified chartered management accountant, which I have supplemented with qualifications in product management and international trade finance (completed shortly after the birth of my children).

I’m part of a dynamic Absa global finance and trade team. Absa is one of the biggest banks in South Africa with nine African subsidiaries and over 42 000 employees  

I extremely proud of our most recent achievement, an online trade management channel with back office functionality that we have successfully piloted with our biggest African subsidiaries, putting us on track to become a true Pan African bank with a strong client value proposition

If you had to explain your job to a child, how would you describe what you do?

Just like a shop owner needs to look after her shop a product manager needs to take care of her products. She needs to:

  • Ensure the product has a strong value proposition, which makes the product an easy sell for sales teams.
  • Provide the necessary support & guidance to various contributing infrastructure teams to ensure quick delivery and satisfied customers.

Mitigate any risks that can harm the product.

  • Price the products to maximise profitability, but also ensure sustainability of product.

The theme of this year’s IWD campaign is #BalanceforBetter – what does this mean for you and your company?

Achieving a work / life balance is a constant battle that requires careful planning and support from your family and company you work with.

It does feel at times that to succeed in the workplace you have to work like you don’t have the commitments of being a mother and to be a good mother you can’t take on the commitments of challenging and fulfilling work.

I am fortunate that my company allows for flexible working hours and remote working.

It is important for companies to set clear individual performance objectives that will track deliverables instead of simply monitoring the number working hours at the office

What is the one thing you would advise women to do, if they aspire to be leading managers?

  • Be confident even if you have to fake it at first,
  • Don’t be scared to ask questions and challenge the status Quo,
  • Find a role model or strong manager who you can look up to and learn from them
  • You don’t have to be in a senior position to lead, don’t doubt yourself or your abilities to lead.

Idana Salim

Director, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

I have been with Bank of America Merrill Lynch for seven years, based out of Singapore. I am a Trade Product Manager responsible for trade solutions catering to our Financial Institution client segment in Asia Pacific. In addition, I also lead our Global Transaction Services (GTS) Treasury Management Analyst Program which identifies and trains young talent to be future contributors and leaders for our business.

If you had to explain your job to a child, how would you describe what you do?

I would say my job is akin to that of a toy designer. A toy designer would design toys that would appeal to children, meet their needs and budget. My role is comparable as I ensure the solutions I put together for our clients are fit for purpose and user-friendly. Most importantly, toy designers will ensure the toys are safe for children. For my role, this is one of my biggest responsibility, making sure that our solutions comply with internal risk standards and external regulations.

The theme of this year’s IWD campaign is #BalanceforBetter – what does this mean for you and your company?

For the firm, we believe being a diverse and inclusive company makes us strong and is essential to our ability to meet the needs of our clients, communities, and employees. The firm has a strong representation of women across all levels of our organization, and our support of women is evident in the resources we have focused on bringing female talent to our company and developing our employees. Personally, I am glad to be working in Bank of America Merrill Lynch. I have access to resources and opportunities to further my career.

What is the one thing you would advise women to do, if they aspire to be leading managers?

I would advise women to have a clear and strong focus in what they do and what they want to achieve. The action steps will fall into place.  Finding a sponsor and mentor will also help.

What could be more fun than designing toys? Not much! Not to be taken lightly, however, this field requires its professionals to garner expertise regarding child safety, the properties of various elemental materials and overall, the appropriateness of individual designs. Toy designers must have assimilated specialized knowledge which then enables them to master the cognitive, emotional and motor functions of children at various ages. Most importantly, the successful toy designer can translate effective designs and safe material components into toys which will be fun, functional and educational for the targeted age group.

Clare Chalmers

Non-Executive Director, Brickendon Consulting

Brickendon is an award-winning global management and technology consultancy, specialising in innovative solutions for the financial services industry. I joined the firm in June 2018 to provide guidance to the leadership team on the overall direction and strategy of the firm.

If you had to explain your job to a child, how would you describe what you do?

I work with some very important people who run a very successful management and technology company. My job is to guide them on how to make the company even better by making the right decisions in terms of people, culture and being the best at what we do.

The theme of this year’s IWD campaign is #BalanceforBetter – what does this mean for you and your company?

Brickendon signed the UK’s Women in Finance Charter in July 2017 emphasising its commitment to working together to build a fair and balanced financial services industry. It is widely acknowledged that a diverse workforce is more productive and successful. In our experience, facilitating the achievement of personal goals within a flexible working culture means that our people not only deliver to the best of their capabilities, but are even more engaged. Brickendon is also committed to achieving 50 per cent female representation in senior management by the end of 2019.

What is the one thing you would advise women to do, if they aspire to be leading managers?

My advice is to be strong. In your career you will have to take many risks and sometimes you will fail. Accept failure, seek guidance from others and pick yourself up again – no matter how hard it may seem. You will encounter many obstacles, learn from them and be strong enough to fight for what you believe in. Most importantly be strong enough to believe in yourself when sometimes others won’t. Your strength will be an inspiration to others.

Andrea Hodgson

Cambridge & Counties Bank

Cambridge & Counties Bank specialises in helping SMEs with their lending and savings needs. We differentiate ourselves by offering a personal service that’s straightforward, fast and flexible, bringing back some of the traditional elements of banking and combining these with the speed, efficiency and know-how that’s needed in the modern day.

As CFO, Andrea Hodgson brings a wealth of financial experience from senior executive roles held at Lloyds Banking Group, Bank of Scotland and National Australia Group, to a key strategic leadership role at Cambridge & Counties Bank.  

“Cambridge & Counties Bank is a successful specialist niche player and since its inception in 2012, has grown to exceed £1bn balance sheet assets. It’s really empowering to work for a technology led and people enabled organisation. A bank where people are passionate about their role and the contribution they can make in doing their best for the customer, where finance is at the heart of the business. To have the opportunity to build on the expertise we have, to shape and lead this organization as it embarks on its next phase of success is a privilege”.

If you had to explain your job to a child, how would you describe what you do?

We encourage people with more money than they need today to save some of the extra that they have, so that we can lend it to people to buy the things they want, like a big building or a warehouse.

Imagine Leicester City want to buy Cristiano Ronaldo and a new stadium, and they only have enough money for one of these things. We, as a bank, lend them the money for the stadium and Leicester City must promise to pay us back within a certain time frame. Leicester City need to ensure that they get a lot of supporters into the stadium, so they can afford the repayments back to the bank. If they don’t pay us back, they won’t be able to keep the stadium and might possibly have to sell Cristiano Ronaldo!

For those people who gave us money in the first place, it’s a bit like we were hungry and our friend gaves us 5 cookies today as they had some spare, but with the promise we will give them back 6 cookies next week in return.

Essentially, my job is to make sure that the Bank doesn’t run out of money, that we spend it on the right things and that I can always tell you how much money we have.

The theme of this year’s IWD campaign is #BalanceforBetter – what does this mean for you and your company?

For me, two perspectives spring to mind, and harnessing each of them, is key in realising the potential of individuals and the organisation:

  • Diversity  – diversity in gender, beliefs, race, religion, background, experiences and views, helping to build an environment of equal and open opportunities for everyone and a company culture which values and respects each individual’s contribution; and
  • Work life balance – facilitating a working environment where individuals have the opportunity to thrive in their role, fulfill their potential, and supported in their development, where the individuals achievement and enjoyment is balanced across what they value whether that’s career, family, friends, health and self.

Achieving this balance is a powerful driver of increased motivation and productivity with huge advantages if you get it right, a key foundation for commercial success, and looking after our health and wellbeing creates a happy workplace where in turn, our people give their best.

What is the one thing you would advise women to do, if they aspire to be leading managers?

‘Believe in yourself and foster self-belief in others’

Believe in yourself and your potential and foster self-belief in others. Keep true to your values and what motivates you to achieve what you want to do and make sure that you really want to go that extra mile. It takes hard work, time, tenacity, and balancing the impact on your personal life. You need to learn humility. Give credit to your team and individuals when things go well and shoulder the responsibility when things don’t. Seek out incredible experiences. Be generous with yourself when you make mistakes, invest in experiences that help you grow and feed your passion. I learned to take on things I’d never done before as growth and comfort rarely coexist. Not every step needs to be a vertical step. Don’t be afraid to take a step back to learn from an experience, it will build resilience and help your career development in the long run. So, trust in your own talents, work hard, enjoy the journey, and don’t forget to celebrate your successes!

Ginnie Chin

CEO, Culum Capital Pte Ltd

Culum Capital is an alternative trade finance platform setup and run by a team of experienced bankers. We are a portfolio company of GTR Ventures. Since inception, we have helped SMEs to unlock more than $16m working capital using trade finance tools


If you had to explain your job to a child, how would you describe what you do?

Professional matchmaker. In a child’s context, it would be to find children who want toys, understand what toys they want and bring them to the best toy store.

The theme of this year’s IWD campaign is #BalanceforBetter – what does this mean for you and your company?

Personally, it is an acknowledgement and empowerment for women to be recognise in their organisation or society based on merit and to be given equal opportunity. In Culum, we believe in gender equality. We hire based on merit and not gender. We believe in inclusivity and team work. The phrase “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” is true to certain extent. So we want a balanced team to have balanced view

What is the one thing you would advise women to do, if they aspire to be leading managers?

Do not be afraid to take risk and ask for what you deserved. Do not be afraid to stand up against criticism.

Susana Cambeiro-Gesto

Director, Deloitte

I am a mother of two young children and the Digital Shared Service Lead for the UK.  I successfully design and implement finance shared services that are digital enabled for FTSE 100-250 clients.  I have been with Deloitte for over 17 years and love being part of a thriving, energetic team who inspire me to do the job I do.  I am


If you had to explain your job to a child, how would you describe what you do?

I help companies identify how to save money.

The theme of this year’s IWD campaign is #BalanceforBetter – what does this mean for you and your company?

Balance for better means a workforce where everyone, no matter their gender, ethnicity, sexuality or background, knows they are will be fully respected and judged solely on the value they can or could bring to the organisation.

What is the one thing you would advise women to do, if they aspire to be leading managers?

Know what is important to you and what is important to each and every one of your team members.  We all have different values and well being needs. Through acknowledging, respecting and allowing you and your team to accomplish these, a positive and thriving environment will be created.

Gwendoline de Viron

Head of Marketing and Communication, FCI

After working 7 years in field marketing I joined IFG more than 5 years ago that merged with FCI in January 2016. FCI is the global association of Factoring and Receivables Finance with close to 400 members in 91 countries. As head of marketing and communication, I am in charge of all visibility of FCI but also to help to promote the association and the industry in the world.

If you had to explain your job to a child, how would you describe what you do?

I am preparing all kind of supports (website, brochure, posts on social media, press release, emailing…) to show what the association is doing towards the members of the association (people that work for companies that are part of the association) and towards people than could use what our members offer as service. I am also in charge of keeping a close relation with media contacts that could help us to promote what we are doing

The theme of this year’s IWD campaign is #BalanceforBetter – what does this mean for you and your company?

For me it’s important we adapt our way of living to stop to destroy the planet and keep a healthy place to live for the future generations. I am trying to make some gesture in my everyday life as every small step is important. For FCI, we have changed the last few year we produce less paper and give a priority to electronic files, mailing

What is the one thing you would advise women to do, if they aspire to be leading managers?

It’s a very good question. I think the first is to have done one day the task you are asking you team. From my first work I always tried to do even what you think is the most stupid task to know how to do it. It allows you to evaluate the difficulty or facility of the task. I think you also need to respect the people you are working with and show it in the way you manage them. A good accomplishment is when people tell you they would do it for you. A last advise would be to thank them regularly and when something is not done your way, take the time to explain what you want and why.

Patricia Gomes

Regional Head, HSBC Bank USA, N.A

Based in New York, Patricia Gomes is Head of Global Trade and Receivables Finance (GTRF), North America for HSBC. In this role, she is responsible for leading and managing the GTRF business across Commercial Banking and Global Banking clients.

With 20 years of experience in banking, Patricia joined GTRF from the Financial Institutions Group (FIG), a line of business within HSBC’s Global Banking and Markets division, where she was Head of North America.
Patricia has worked for HSBC since 2004 in a variety of roles, in London, Hong Kong and New York. Prior to joining HSBC Patricia was with Citigroup, in Financial Institutions coverage and Credit Risk Management both in London and Lisbon. Patricia joined Citigroup in 1997. Patricia is a member of the Board of Directors for the Bankers Association for Finance and Trade (BAFT). Patricia has an MBA from INSEAD (Paris and Singapore) and a Masters in Economics from Universidade Catolica Portuguesa, in Lisbon, Portugal.

HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organizations. Our four global businesses, Commercial Banking, Global Banking and Markets, Retail Banking and Wealth Management, and Global Private Banking serve more than 39 million customers worldwide through a network that covers 66 countries and territories

If you had to explain your job to a child, how would you describe what you do?

I help enable companies to trade goods and services. This promotes jobs and economic prosperity. It also brings the world to your doorstep: because of trade, you can go to the supermarket and buy mangoes from india or order the latest playstation from japan to play your favorite videogame.

The theme of this year’s IWD campaign is #BalanceforBetter – what does this mean for you and your company?

Gender balance is a more than the fair or politically correct thing to do. It is a business and economic imperative… to sum up: it is the smart thing to do! Women make up 50% of the worlds working-age population, women drive between 70-80% of all consumer purchasing, yet generate only 37% of the world’s gdp and are only represented in 25% of management positions. There is evidence which points to companies with greater gender diversity in top management delivering better return on equity and making more balanced risk decisions.

At hsbc this is a priority because it will allow us to
a) attract and source from the totality of the talent base
b) relate and connect better with our customers and
c) deliver stronger economic results.

To me personally, being an advocate for gender diversity has become part of who I am. I try to contibute in my own way: either by being a role model and mentor for the younger generation of women at the firm or by being active in hsbc’s gender diversity employee resource group – balance – which I helped set up globally.

What is the one thing you would advise women to do, if they aspire to be leading managers?

Never get comfortable in your job. If you are comfortable then it is time to change. Find the next challenge, believe in yourself and dive right in!

Diana Smallridge

President and CEO, International Financial Consulting Ltd.


We are known around the world for our expertise in advising public policy-backed financial institutions such as development banks and export credit agencies. This is our specialty and we believe there is no firm in the world that understands these institutions better than we do. I am proud to lead this award-winning company as President and CEO and feel fortunate to have worked intimately with these important public institutions in over 60 countries on hundreds of projects in all parts of the world, from the Caribbean to the Middle East, ranging from highly industrialized countries such as Canada and New Zealand, to countries that are emerging economies, in which we help them springboard their economies forward through well managed public development banks.  I set up this company 19 years ago. It is now officially an adult and exciting things are happening!

If you had to explain your job to a child, how would you describe what you do?

There are banks owned by governments and banks owned by people. Private banks are the ordinary banks we think about when we want to open a savings account or borrow money to buy a house. Public banks are different. They also must make money, like a regular business. But they have an extra job too – they help the government to improve the country’s economy. They help finance trade with other countries or ensure money is available so that communities have what they need to thrive – like food, water, transportation, education, electricity. They also help local businesses who might need a loan, but the private banks won’t give it to them.  For example, a normal bank might not be interested in lending money to help a farmer because the agriculture industry is very risky, and it can be challenging to turn a profit (and repay the bank). However, the public bank wants farmers to succeed, because they need to ensure there is enough food for everyone in the country. So, the public bank is willing to take risks that a private bank can’t or won’t.   

Running one of these public banks can be very challenging.  On the one hand, you want to help the country through your lending, and on the other hand, you still need to make money to survive.  You also don’t want to take away business from the private banks because they employ people too. We help these public banks, at both a national, regional, and international level around the world to walk this fine balance by providing them advice and support in all areas of their business based on our deep familiarity and experience having worked with over 100 distinct institutions.

The theme of this year’s IWD campaign is #BalanceforBetter – what does this mean for you and your company?

Balance for Better is very fitting and relevant for our company – both internally amongst our team members as well as with the work we do for our clients.  As a company focused on promoting and supporting a development agenda and working with development finance institutions, development goals, like the Sustainable Development Goals, are highly relevant to us and our clients.

To promote gender equality (the fifth Sustainable Development Goal), it is important for us to mainstream gender balance within the financial institutions we are working with so that equal financing opportunities are provided to men and women.  This also means working with the financial institutions themselves to promote equal opportunity internally. This can be challenging, as the financial services industry has traditionally been quite male-dominated.

As a women-led company, it is important for us to model this gender balance as well, by giving equal opportunity within our company.  We happen to have more women on staff than men; this isn’t intentional, but our values seem to resonate especially well with women: Relationships, Integrity, Visionary, Excellence and Respectful Candour.

What is the one thing you would advise women to do, if they aspire to be leading managers?

Go for it!  Lean into your strengths, own your value and demonstrate and articulate what you bring to the company.  While we may not always see women pursuing leadership positions as aggressively as men because there is still a large gender “confidence gap” – there is certainly no gap in the ability to succeed.

The world needs more women leaders: it’s not just the right thing, it’s the smart thing. Study after study shows the incredible economic gains when women are full economic agents, boosting productivity and growth, and income equality.

Juultje van der Wijk

Managing Director TCF, ING Wholesale Banking

Juultje van der Wijk started her career in MeesPierson in 1996, later merged into Fortis Bank. She worked 4 years in Trade & Commodity Finance and then moved to the Energy Group where she was responsible for Mining Finance. In 2004 she moved to ING Bank where she assumed responsibility for Metals & Mining Finance within the Structured Finance department. Between 2010 and 2013 she was Global Head of Trade Finance Services, as part of the Management Team of Transaction Services. During 2014 and 2015 she fulfilled the role of Global Head Transaction Services Sales. As from 2016 she assumed a role of Head of TCF Rotterdam and is now in TCF the Lead agri of TCF Netherlands.

Juultje has a Masters’ degree in Economics from the University of Maastricht and spent two years in Costa Rica working at the Dutch Embassy in development projects. She is board member of the ICC, the international chamber of commerce, in the Netherlands. Furthermore she performed board member roles for DutchCulture and BothEnds. Juultje is married and has 2 young daughters.

If you had to explain your job to a child, how would you describe what you do?

Food ingredients come from all over the world eg coffee from Africa. There are companies who take care of that, they organize a ship and bring the coffee here. We help them with money to buy purchases abroad, they pay us back when they sell it to the producers here who roast the coffee from green to black beans and then we can buy it in the supermarket.  

The theme of this year’s IWD campaign is #BalanceforBetter – what does this mean for you and your company?

More inclusiveness allows to take more perspectives into account and leads to better decision making. Perspectives like sustainability next to financial drivers are key these days when we all committed to reduce the human impact on our planet.

What is the one thing you would advise women to do, if they aspire to be leading managers?

Express your ambitions, seek sponsors and mentors, believe in yourself and do everything required to strengthen your self confidence.

Grace Lordan

behavioural scientist, LSE

If you had to explain your job to a child, how would you describe what you do?

I am a behavioral scientist at the LSE. I spend most of my time researching why certain individuals succeed in life. I am most interested in factors that are beyond the control of individuals – for example, their ethnicity, religion, gender and even changes in technology. The rest of my time I spend teaching master’s students. My courses focus on decision making in big business

The theme of this year’s IWD campaign is #BalanceforBetter – what does this mean for you and your company?

I am a big proponent of giving everyone- regardless of their background- opportunities to advance at the LSE.  Our students are 50% female and come from all parts of the world. They deserve to have role models and people reaching them who can both identify with their viewpoint, and also challenge it. Outside of education, for all organizations, I am a big proponent of balance, but emphasis that things will only get better if there is also inclusion. You can have the smartest and most diverse team of individuals around a table, but if only the same people get heard business outcomes will not change. From the outside things will look better, but without inclusion balance does not improve outcomes

What is the one thing you would advise women to do, if they aspire to be leading managers?

Build resilience, do not internalize failure and persevere. It is the same advice I give to males who aspire to be leaders

Margaret Chan

CEO,Seabury Capital

Seabury is the premier advisor to global  aviation and aerospace clients. Aside from corporate and aircraft financings, our trade finance platform is now helping this industry to realize the value of payables and receivables finance. We build our trade finance platform to integrate with  supply chain technology providers, where a buyer and seller pair are in place to transact seamlessly and with a history of performance. We add the value of advance funding via a simple click.

If you had to explain your job to a child, how would you describe what you do?

I am a financial engineer, building and creating products from ground up. The products (stocks and bonds) that are sold by brokers are engineered by people like us.In order to be able to do this, you must know your customers’ appetite, what their needs are; then create the product that suits their needs.

The theme of this year’s IWD campaign is #BalanceforBetter – what does this mean for you and your company?

Especially for women, balancing priorities, whether is time spent for yourself, your family and your work requires superior organization, infrastructure and commitment. Multi-tasking is not easy, but it seems that women are better built for that than men. A balance of priorities will enable us to be focus at work, and meet the daily challenges that is required to be a successful leader.

What is the one thing you would advise women to do, if they aspire to be leading managers?

Men or women, one must look around their peers and know the things they can do better, superior in their performance. If one can’t find that trait, she is in the wrong business. If one is not looking forward to Mondays when she can get to work and perform, then one must quit and find a job that excites her.  Do not waste time in a field that your potentials are not recognized.

Sonal Priyanka

Societe Generale

My career in banking spans 20 years, with experience across India and Singapore with various banks. I have been with Societe Generale since 2014 and I am impressed by and grateful for how committed the bank is to be a diverse workforce in an inclusive workplace. For instance, Societe Generale has made it a priority to promote women and international profiles to positions of responsibility and senior management roles in the bank. To ensure that we achieve this objective as a Group, the bank has established a Diversity Board and Strategic Talent pools and in 2017, 40% of those selected were women with 43% being international (non-French). As a member of the local Gender Diversity Network, I am also personally involved in driving our Asia Pacific Diversity & Inclusion Charter and the progress of our female talents in Societe Generale’s Singapore operations.

If you had to explain your job to a child, how would you describe what you do?

I help companies to buy and sell goods and services by providing them with financing and other solutions that they require.

The theme of this year’s IWD campaign is #BalanceforBetter – what does this mean for you and your company?

For me, #BalanceforBetter means the ability to bring a balance between the different demands on an individual, leading to a better outcome for the individual. An individual can do this in an environment that is conducive to bringing work-life balance. As an employer of 147,000 employees, Societe Generale wants to ensure that its people, regardless of their background and life situation, can work and develop themselves with equal opportunities. The bank’s promotion of diversity is also complemented by HR policies, such as flexible work arrangements, that help all employees achieve the balance needed for personal and professional success.

What is the one thing you would advise women to do, if they aspire to be leading managers?

My advice would be to choose wisely and to confidently take career risks. I think this wisdom and confidence will come from developing one’s skills and employability through ongoing training and the formulation of clear career paths. For example, during the course my own career, I have taken risks, by moving organizations and locations, when opportunities appeared. But while taking such risks, I believe that I have also chosen well by ensuring that I worked with organizations and leaders that are enablers of learning and career growth. But the most important choice I have made is really about who I have decided to spend my life with.

Marian Boyle

Partner, Sullivan & Worcester (UK) LLP


1 – Marian Boyle is a partner in the London office of Sullivan & Worcester, and heads the UK insurance and disputes practices. She works closely with the firm’s established trade and export finance team, and U.S.-based disputes team, offering advice on insurance, risk management, and commercial dispute resolution.

2- Sullivan & Worcester is an international law firm with offices in the US (Boston, New York, and Washington DC) and in the UK (London). In London, the firm focuses on trade, export and project finance as well as insurance and dispute resolution.  The firm’s lawyers are hands-on, business savvy and straightforward, and completely committed to their clients’ interests.

If you had to explain your job to a child, how would you describe what you do?

In the olden days, when people had disagreements about things, they often ended up having a fight. My job is to help people sort out their disagreements,  without anyone fighting or getting hurt. Sometimes this means we have to go to court, but not always.

The theme of this year’s IWD campaign is #BalanceforBetter – what does this mean for you and your company?

For female lawyers in particular, “balance” is often about juggling the competing demands of work and home. The reality of private practice within a law firm, particularly in dispute resolution and transactional finance where workloads can be very unpredictable, is that many women leave between qualification (where there is usually a good gender balance) and partnership (which is often very unbalanced).

There will be lots of different reasons for women choosing alternatives to private practice, but it seems that balancing work and home life is often a driving factor. Retaining talent is very important for law firms such as Sullivan & Worcester and we strive to find ways to enable allemployees, women and men, to achieve a better balance by embracing flexible working arrangements and developing alternative career paths to suit the needs of individual team members.

For law firms that help their teams achieve more balance, the “better” element in #BalanceforBetter comes from the tangible benefits of retaining highly skilled team members and, over time, having more gender balance at all levels.

What is the one thing you would advise women to do, if they aspire to be leading managers?

Invest in themselves by focusing on personal skills and self value – such as tackling any imposter syndrome or guilt; managing your time and stress levels; develop good sleeping and healthy living habits;  and learning to say no. You will live for decades and can re-invent yourself or your roles/paths/jobs many times. Balance your life span – you don’t have to do it all in 5 minutes!

Carla Bermeo

Director and Regional Head, Toronto Dominion Bank

TD Securities is a leading corporate and investment bank. Operating out of 15 offices in key financial centres, we offer a full suite of capital markets products and services to our corporate, government, and institutional clients around the world. Our services include underwriting and distributing new issues, providing trusted advice and industry-leading insight, extending access to global markets, and delivering integrated transaction banking solutions

Originally from Ecuador, I came to Canada as a student in 2004 without knowing anyone and am very proud and grateful for what I have been able to achieve since then both personally and professionally.

Since joining TD Securities 11 years ago, I have taken on progressively more senior positions within Global Transaction Banking.  Currently, I am Regional Head for Global Transaction Banking in Latin America and the Caribbean, ensuring that we remain experts and strong business partners for our clients in the region.

If you had to explain your job to a child, how would you describe what you do?

I help some of the largest financial institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean with their trade finance and correspondent banking needs. OR
I connect financial institutions based in Latin America and the Caribbean with TD and identify the best opportunities for working together.

The theme of this year’s IWD campaign is #BalanceforBetter – what does this mean for you and your company?

Balance is an important concept—I associate it with harmony and sustainability.

Let’s assume a car has a flat tire—you could say that a car in such condition is unbalanced… cannot move and cannot perform without risking further damage. An unbalanced situation is like that, it needs to be repaired so we can move forward in a harmonious and sustainable way. The same concept could be expanded to, for example, corporate and societal contexts.

Reaching balance, however, it is not such an easy task compared to changing a flat tire. It is a daily challenge and demands much discipline and self-awareness. No doubt, it also requires a supportive environment.

When people talk about balance in women’s lives, they tend to refer to work-life balance. I believe it has a broader scope. It involves opportunities to develop women’s full potential and enable them to deliver their best possible contribution to their family, workplace and society.

It is great to work with a company whose values you share. TD recognizes the importance of balance, not only in the lives of its employees but also in the communities we serve.

TD’s Women in Leadership Network is our largest employee network with more than 13,000 women across North America – with a focus on gender balance and career development. 

For the second year in a row TD was included in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index in 2018, a measure reflecting internal company statistics, employee policies, external community support and engagement, and gender-conscious product offerings.

What is the one thing you would advise women to do, if they aspire to be leading managers?

Know yourself and be confident about what you bring to the table; do not be afraid of exploring new opportunities and always continue learning.

Noel Harwerth

Non-executive Chair of the Board and Non-executive board member, Uk Export Finance

If you had to explain your job to a child, how would you describe what you do?


I head a government department that is responsible for helping businesses sell their products to customers in foreign countries. We loan money to businesses to help them make the products they are going to sell overseas and we also make sure that the businesses get paid for the products they do sell overseas.

The theme of this year’s IWD campaign is #BalanceforBetter – what does this mean for you and your company?

I’m very proud of the measures UKEF is taking to reduce the gender pay gap and improve the gender balance in our department, for example signing the Women in Finance Charter. Our public commitments include improving female representation at SCS  (Senior Civil Service) grade to 30% by 2020 and across our entire department to 40% by 2020.  In order to help reach this target, we have refined our recruitment focus, and are rolling out the government’s new assessment methodology that will ensure we find the best candidate for the role, while improving diversity and inclusion.

What is the one thing you would advise women to do, if they aspire to be leading managers?

Be assertive, not aggressive.   Understand what you do well and take credit for it in the organisation.  Make your ambitions clear to your boss

Davinder Mann

Export Finance UK

If you had to explain your job to a child, how would you describe what you do?

You can think of me like a person with a team of firefighters. If there were a fire it would be  my job to find someone to put it out. Were there  a really big fire, I would have to put it out myself. Once I had  put it out I would have to make sure that that kind of fire could not ever start again. My real job, however is to  ensure as best I can that  fires never start in the first place. So, I teach people how to spot the circumstances in which a fire might start and teach them the best ways of avoiding it .I also have to make them aware that no matter how much we try to prevent a fire, we may sometimes get one. We need to know how to react when one starts so we don’t panic.

I also have to make sure I have enough firefighters,  keep the fire cupboard stocked and my fire engines fit for purpose have adequate resources, tools and people to teach people about fires and put out the fire when it starts. The fire in my analogy is a breach of our legal obligations, the firefighters are my lawyers and compliance officers and the fire engines and the fire cupboards are all the tools and resources I have in my legal office.”  

The theme of this year’s IWD campaign is #BalanceforBetter – what does this mean for you and your company?

UKEF has taken a number of significant steps forward in improving gender diversity but we must continue to focus on those activities which will help us reach a better balance in the workplace. These include active support for parents returning to work following maternity, parental and adoption leave and the endorsement of measures such as the Working Forward pledge, which aims to make workplaces the best they can be for pregnant women and new parents. We’re also supporting women to take part in programmes such as Crossing Thresholds which helps women progress their careers, and the continued senior level sponsorship of the Gender Network which champions gender diversity issues within UKEF.

What is the one thing you would advise women to do, if they aspire to be leading managers?

Use what inspires you to inspire others. Look up and around you and think about what other people do that makes you feel like doing well for that person or a work place. Work out what it is about what that person does and how they do it that resonates with you. Then try do that in a way that works for you. We are all different people and are moved by different things. But we can use what moves or inspires us to move or inspire others. Once you harness this quality you will be ready and confident in your approach to being a leading manager.

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