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IWD: Four women changing the world of finance

finance woman
29 February 2024
Financial & Professional Services
woman in finance

A small foreword before we get into the blog... As we roll towards another International Women’s Day, I was tempted to write a time about the inequalities and challenges women face in the workplace and beyond. But you’ve been spared, at least for this year.

Instead, during the next week I’d like to encourage you to go and find out for yourself. I encourage you to ask the women in your life about the challenges and experiences they have come up against, particularly at work. You may not like the answers that come back to you, but I can guarantee it will be worth asking.

So, back to the blog. I’m choosing to keep it positive in the run up to IWD this year and shine a spotlight on four incredible women who are changing the world of finance, one day at a time…

Noreen Shah

As well as her role as Chief Marketing and Comms Officer at Carne Group, Noreen is the founder of Reboot, an award-winning campaigning group working to elevate the dialogue about racial inequality in financial services and the broader UK workplace.

Launched in 2020, Reboot has since rallied some of the biggest names in financial services to tackle the underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in the industry. In partnership with Share Action, 30% Club and Runnymede Trust, Reboot has secured commitments from several FTSE100 companies to publish data across different ethnic groups – a critical step in creating a more equitable industry.

Stefanie Drews

Financial News’ recent description of Stefanie as a ‘rarity in the asset management sector’ may well be an understatement. Drews, president of the $219.2 billion Nikko Asset Management, is one of the very few female bosses leading a global fund house - and one of even fewer female leaders of a Tokyo-headquartered organisation.

Stefanie implemented flexible work hours long before the pandemic, helping women and others balance work-life challenges, and has also improved gender representation amongst senior leadership. In a recent news article Stefanie talked about success on her own terms; “I do feel everyone has to make their own choices. And it's OK to be obsessed with your career and it's OK not to be, both are OK. … In my case, having children, adopting, having some of my causes — I'm a big environmentalist — and having a career were completely non-negotiable," .

Amanda Blanc, Group CEO, Aviva

I could hardly write a blog on this topic and leave out Amanda Blanc, Group CEO of Aviva and one of the few female CEOs in the FTSE100 (there are still just ten). Recently telling MPs on the Treasury select committee that any new senior white male hires would need to be personally vetted by herself, Amanda consistently uses her influence to drive change in the workplace and wider society. Blanc has steered the company through a tough landscape since she took over in 2020, and the proof is in the pudding - Aviva’s share price has increased 60 per cent since she assumed stewardship in 2020.

Yvonne Bajela

Access to venture capital funding today is not a level playing field, but Yvonne Bajela is striving to change this. As a founding member and principle of Impax X, a UK-based venture capital firm, Yvonne invests in companies led by founders from underrepresented demographics at the seed and Series A stages.

Named on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Europe Finance List, Yvonne’s work is driven towards creating a VC industry where founders can secure funding irrespective of their background. With estimates indicating that all-ethnic minority teams receive less than 2% of UK venture capital investment, Yvonne’s work is helping to unlock the huge untapped potential of diverse entrepreneurs across the UK and beyond.