On October 6, American Banker will host its 14th annual “The Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance” awards dinner. Protiviti is proud to be the exclusive Platinum Sponsor and to celebrate this milestone achievement with executives and leaders from some of our clients!
To gear up for this momentous moment, we are going to spend the month of September spotlighting a few #ProtivitiWomenInFSI and their unique stories. Next up in our series is Sarah!
- What was your path to Protiviti? – “I came to Protiviti after 6 years of industry experience. I was a commercial banker at a regional bank in Chicago when I was introduced to Protiviti by a recruiter from Robert Half International. At the time I was about 1.5 years into my MBA. I knew I wanted to do something other than commercial banking for the rest of my life, but I wanted to stay within the financial services industry. Risk & Compliance consulting seemed like a great way to experience many different areas of banking while I decided what I wanted in a “grown up job”. I didn’t expect that I would want to make Protiviti my career, but it turns out I fell in love with the job and the people I work with every day, so it just sort of worked out.”
- What excites you the most about your work in the financial services industry? – “I love the fact that in my 3+ years at Protiviti, each project has been incredibly different and has presented a new challenge. I started my career working with the Data & Analytics team on some model validation projects. I learned about quantitative techniques and how to measure a number of risk factors (credit risk, market risk, operational risk). From there, I worked on a number of capital management projects including some model validations and a positive assurance audit for a bank that was applying with the Canadian Regulator, OSFI. After that, I worked on a regulatory risk and control mapping project, which was my first taste of working in the 2nd line of defense and in Anti-Money Laundering. A year ago, I moved to Hong Kong to help build out Protiviti’s Hong Kong financial services presence. It has been immensely challenging, but also rewarding. I guess that’s my long winded way of saying that the best thing about Protiviti is that I’ve never once been bored by my work. I really believe that at this firm, there is always opportunity to do something new, different, and life changing!”
- What has been the biggest challenge you have faced working in the financial services industry? – “One thing that comes to mind is that the regulatory regimes in Asia tend to lag behind those of the US and UK by about 5 years. For example, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority didn’t release Anti-Money Laundering legislation until 2012, and they didn’t bring their first enforcement action until July 2015. As a result, in Hong Kong there are very broad discrepancies in the level of sophistication of the AML programs that are currently in place between large global organizations who have dealt with US/UK regulators over the last 5-8 years and small/medium sized banks that have not experienced AML regulatory enforcement. We have sometimes run into the challenge that having a robust AML/ Financial Crime program is not as much of a priority here. Having lived through a number of enforcement actions at this point, it can be frustrating because we want to help fix issues before it becomes a regulatory mandate, but it is difficult to demonstrate the value of getting out ahead of the problem until context has been established by the regulators. Until firms see the magnitude of time, money, and effort that remediation projects require, they don’t see the reason for investing in change.”
- Who has played a critical role in the development of your career? – “First, Chicago Managing Director Jeff played a huge role in my career development when he hired me! Also, when I first came to Protiviti, Todd and Shaheen from the Data & Analytics team gave me an opportunity to work on their projects despite the fact that I had no model validation experience whatsoever. This was critical to my success and happiness, because it allowed me not to travel while I finished out my MBA. At the time, I don’t think I realized what a challenge it would have been to maintain a high quality of personal relationships, professional success, and school work whilst travelling Monday to Thursday. Looking back, it was an absolute godsend. Last and most importantly, Chicago Managing Director Cory changed the course and trajectory of my career when he gave my husband and me the opportunity to join the Hong Kong office. I don’t think anyone could have prepared me for how challenging and rewarding this experience has been. It’s forced me to be introspective and to confront and improve upon my greatest weaknesses, both personally and professionally. My goal is to leave Hong Kong as a stronger leader, a better partner, and a more well-rounded person.”
- What is your advice would you give to both current and future women in banking to face the future with confidence? – “Have you ever seen the Jim Carrey movie, Yes Man? It’s about a negative guy who is kind of stuck in his ways, but then goes to a self-help seminar and becomes a “Yes man”. Every time he is asked a question, he says yes, without allowing himself the opportunity to over-think it or to consider the uplift it will require. In the movie, Jim Carrey takes it way too far, but I love the general concept; that the only person who can stop you from accomplishing everything you’ve ever wanted is yourself. The biggest mistake I made early in my career was to pass up potential opportunities because I wasn’t sure if I was ready or I didn’t know if I was qualified enough. I was holding myself back because I didn’t know how to deal with uncertainty. My advice is to be a Yes Man! Accept the challenge and be confident that you will succeed. If you give people a reason to doubt your ability, they will surely take you up on it. Take the opportunity to prove to everyone that once you’ve set your convictions, you’re a force to be reckoned with!”