Posted on 8/03/2018 by Greg Clarke
Sehreen Qureshi is an Alumni Associate at MThree currently working as a Business Analyst in Currencies, Client & Futures Technology at NatWest Markets.
To tell you a little about myself - growing up I was the child that always detested being asked whom my favorite parent was. Being an innocent soul, I would simply say my father while other children would automatically say both and later I’d find myself asking my parents whether I should have said something else but they would always say: there is no right or wrong answer, you should always say what feels right.
Since then I realised that ‘right’ has countless versions, unique to every person. The more people you meet and the more places you visit, you begin to understand that things aren’t quite as black and white as we perceive them to be. So I am going to try and give some advice from what I felt I did right. It may or may not apply to you, but I hope you learn something useful from it all.
Both the support and encouragement I received from my parents and the healthy environment of my school provided me with a sense of direction, and enhanced my self-confidence; it was early on in year 6 that I nominated myself to be a Class Rep which may not be such a big deal, but for me it was a great stepping stone in which to elevate myself. Ever since then I’ve never shied away from taking initiative, and following my intuition to pursue my ambitions.
It was also at this school that I met an amazing teacher called Mr. O’Flynn who was just so passionate about his subject and really managed to get everyone’s attention (which is quite a rarity). So despite the fact that both my parents were Doctors right there and then I decided I wanted to pursue a career in Finance – as seeing the sheer passion and enthusiasm my teacher demonstrated intrigued me enough to choose all the business subjects and apply to universities with great business schools.
This interest found me at King’s College London, pursuing a degree in Business Management. The course offered a wide spectrum of subjects to choose from, allowing me to tailor my degree as I saw fit and provided me with a strong base upon which I could start a career in Finance.
I came across the concept of a career in Financial Technology because of a Personal Development class in my 1st year, where we learnt about the concept of RED/BLUE Oceans – Red being the mapped out, competitive market environment where prospects for profits and growth are reduced and cutthroat competition exists. Whereas Blue is the unknown market space, untainted by competition. In blue oceans, demand is created rather than fought over.
Although this analogy is generally used in a business context, it can also be applied to us as humans, in that if we try to focus on blue, rather than red oceans, we might have a better chance of being successful.
For me, Finance Technology as a career path, represented a Blue ocean for women as it is an area currently outnumbered by men, and requires women to step in to provide an inclusive and well-balanced approach to doing business. For me that meant less competition and more opportunities for female grads.
My career so far has been quite interesting. I have been fortunate to work with and gain exposure to a lot of senior professionals as well as having the opportunity to work on different tasks; from Strategy and Financials, to People Management and reporting, allowing me a real insight to the inner workings of the organisation. Beyond my day job I also get the amazing opportunity to be a part of employee-led networks, especially our Women in Technology ELN and being its London Chair has provided a platform for me to support, nurture & grow other women working within Technology throughout the bank as well as being able to expand the network through engagement with both internal and external stakeholders.
On the job, no two days are ever truly the same, but they follow the structure of sorting through emails, prepping for meetings and tasks for the day, followed by creating required reports/presentations. Most importantly there is a continuous review and feedback loop shared between my manager and I – which has helped me grow over the past 2 years. Aside from a supportive manager, another essential tool is Communication – people and the team around you need to understand the kind of person you are, so don’t shy away from expressing who you are. Do not think you have to behave in a particular way because it is only an image we have created in our minds, allow yourself to be YOU. This will enable others to understand how you work, which increases the trust they will place in your ability to tackle your tasks and can lead to gaining greater responsibilities. Working in an area with a smaller ratio of women, a fundamental trait is to learn to be confident and ask questions. I’ve learned that the only way people will hear you and believe in you is if you believe in yourself. So be confident, and be vocal.
The two years have been an amazing learning curve as I have been given greater responsibility from what I assumed a grad role would entail. As I grow and learn further, the foundation I have managed to build with the help of my manager and the support from MThree has been monumental for my career and has inspired me to want to create equally lasting and exciting opportunities for other women.
I wish you the best of Luck for your future career!