Is Finance still a male dominated industry? According to our female alumni from different parts of the world, things are changing for the better.
We catch up with Dina Ayoub, one year after she graduated from the Master in Finance. We talk about how the Master in Finance has prepared her for her current job & her aspirations. According to her, companies are trying their best to have diversity within the teams.
Can you give a brief introduction about yourself?
My name is Dina Ayoub and I’m 24 years old. I’m from Lebanon, and Lebanese are in general positive and optimistic people. When I was at school, I liked the debates on economic issues so I did my bachelor degree in economics at the Lebanese American University. During my studies I found that I was interested mostly in the finance courses, and since I’m someone who likes to travel and visit new places, I decided last year to go to Belgium, and I did my Master in Finance at AMS.
Could you briefly tell us about your career path? You worked at Fransabank SAL before you decided to follow the Master in Finance. How come you decided to study an extra master’s degree in finance?
I joined Fransabank after graduating from LAU, as I wanted to experience working in the banking sector. During my time there, I realized that I definitely need a Master degree in order to grow faster in my career. I had a lot of theoretical knowledge and needed a degree that teaches me how to put it into practice, and I was interested in the practical financial side that the Master in Finance program at AMS offers. So, I decided to go for it!
Where are you working at the moment? What is your role within the company?
After I graduated from AMS, I moved to the Netherlands. And I joined WEX as a Credit Analyst; mainly evaluating different credit cases: via aging reports portfolio, financial activity, debt, using different ratios to calculate the risk, guarantees, reconciling financial statements, monitoring overdues, and generating financial reports, to make legal decisions and credit hold actions based on the company’s policy and procedures.
How is the gender equality in your company? And at Fransabank SAL?
When I joined WEX, I was interviewed by two women. The team leader is a very smart and knowledgeable woman, training everyone in the team, males and females. The team’s composition is: almost 50 % females. So, I would say regarding gender equality, that’s pretty equal!
In Lebanon, it’s a whole different story! The bank was ruled by women! I’m not exaggerating, the manager was a woman (married and has kids), the deputy manager was a woman (married and has kids) and my team’s supervisor was a woman (married and has kids). The team was mainly formed by females (like 80 % females). That’s not always the case but it’s very common to see in Lebanon women in leading positions. So, more than equal!
Do you feel that finance is still a male dominated industry? If so, what are the challenges/hurdles for women? Did you experience this yourself?
I wouldn’t say dominated, but there is in general more males that choose to study finance and obviously there will be more males graduating, and occupying most positions in finance. But nowadays the number of women studying finance is increasing.
Regarding hurdles, I remember once I was applying to a bank and they asked me in the interview if I have kids, or if I plan to get pregnant anytime soon!!! But in general, I never had a challenge as a woman applying to any position, especially in the Netherlands. I NEVER felt that: they wouldn’t consider me for the job because I am a woman, or during work they would give a more important task to a male colleague and not a female.
"You shouldn’t think that you’ll have less chances because you’re a woman, don’t put those ideas in your head, instead acquire the skills you need for the position and build your self-confidence."
What would be your advice for female students?
In any job, in any field, they will choose the most qualified candidate, regardless of its gender. If a woman likes finance, she needs to trust herself and her capabilities, strengthen her knowledge and prove that she’s capable of excelling. The only obstacle in our life is the one our mind creates. You shouldn’t think that you’ll have less chances because you’re a woman, don’t put those ideas in your head, instead acquire the skills you need for the position and build your self-confidence. Companies are looking for ambitious employees, who are willing to always accept new challenges within the company, always ready to learn new courses and develop their technical skills. They don't expect you to know everything, they will train you. AND don’t forget the HR department is mostly formed by women 😉 which is for women’s benefit
So, things are changing for the better?
Definitely, companies are trying their best to have diversity within the teams (not only different genders but even nationalities). They’re even trying to shed the light on how many women they have to give a good image of their company, their culture and the values they stand for. I see married women who have several kids occupying leading positions in finance. Also, now, working from home is allowing women to have more flexibility to organize their time. They also allow female employees to shift to part-time contracts when they decide to get married and have kids; they don’t want to lose them because they are essential to the company.
Where do you see yourself (professionally) in the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
In 5 years, I see myself in the same field, there’s plenty of opportunities to grow, but probably in another country, maybe France, as I like to travel and experience living and working in different places.