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Finance is not as boring as it is made out to be, and needs more women in decision-making roles, says Risk Analyst Sanya Mahajan.
In our new series, Brief Case, we will be meeting women at work in different fields, different roles, to get some insight into their lives. With more women joining (or aspiring to) join the paid workforce, we live in exciting times, and this is an attempt to chronicle those times, one life at a time.
Sanya Mahajan is a Risk Analyst at Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in Gurgaon and she has a lot to share about her unique job and its exciting challenges. A graduate in Economics from Delhi University, and a post- graduate in International Politics from SOAS, UK; she has dabbled in multiple interests, and has a plethora of experiences to show! We spoke to her about her experience and views on the financial services sector in India.
Q1. How do you describe yourself?
An ardent fan of reading and music, I also love to travel, run, and just stare at the stars sometimes! A foodie with a sweet tooth, desserts are my absolute weakness and tend to balance out all the running I do. I set large goals for myself and push myself towards them, and I take pride in all my pursuits.
Q2. Why did you choose this field?
I have always been interested in Political Science, despite not studying it in College. I was and am a complete news buff and was always in touch with national and international goings-on. I worked under the Ministry of Defence on a number of themes and I love how in my current job I am able to use my academic training as well as my broader interest in national and international events and issues.
Q3. Describe your role so that it is understandable to someone who knows nothing about your industry.
Quite simply, I monitor and analyse national and regional (South-Asian) political and security developments. These developments need to be assessed for their impact on the bank’s operations and safety. Financial institutions don’t function in isolation and are affected by daily developments – positive and negative, and keeping RBS abreast of this is the essence of my job.
Q4. What is the most exciting part of your role and your field?
In this job, it is a new day every day. Things are changing so rapidly around us. My job is about helping RBS make sense of security developments, and there are changes happening on a daily basis in the banking and financial services industry. The industry has been reeling from the shock of 2008 and has picked itself up ever since then. However, in this transitory period, I have had the opportunity to work with both successful as well as struggling clients. My role is quite people-intensive and I am able to build new experiences with people from around the world.
Q5. What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
My role has received tremendous exposure and visibility. I feel that the challenge has been to not be intimidated by the fact that at 25 years of age I am advising far more experienced people on how to conduct business. Hard work has helped me establish that credibility amongst my peers and seniors.
I feel that the challenge has been to not be intimidated by the fact that at 25 years of age I am advising far more experienced people on how to conduct business.
Secondly, disasters can strike at any point of time in the external world and I am expected to be composed as well as help calm down the stakeholders as well. I can’t involve emotions, and I need to maintain objectivity at all times.
Q6. What is the common misconception about your field?
(laughs) Many people don’t even know that this field exists. Unfortunately in India, the avenues for a person with a social sciences background are limited if one isn’t interested in the development sector or academics. The question generally is “what can these people contribute to corporates?” I believe that would be the most common misconception.
Q7. If you had to change one thing about your field, what would it be?
I would definitely propound the need for greater participation of women in the security and banking industry. Financial services is rather weak on female participation and presence. In most big banks, one will notice a healthy mix of the genders at the lower and middle-level management; however this quickly changes at the senior management level, where one clearly sees more male presence. There is a dire need to push more women up the pipeline into major decision-making positions.
Extremely enthusiastic about writing, reading, movies and food; though not necessarily in that order! A
Awesome..all the best for future endeavors.
Great work you guys! You don’t need to be a great leader to make a change..it all starts with individuals like you who can make a contribution in their own field. I like the point about misconception about development studies. I feel the need of the hour is an integration between development and corporates…to genuinely make a difference..we can’t leave everything to the government but each of us have a role to play too. I also like the point about women being more participative. Just As Sheryl Sandburg in her book lean in says women needs to step up and take up higher level roles to continue with their goal. Hope to see many more insightful stories as this keep it up !
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