At a glance
Fatimah Mis FCPA
Head of business finance, Telekom Malaysia
In today’s fast-paced and challenging business environment, work demands more time and longer hours.
Women leaders have multiple roles in their lives, each demanding equal attention. As I reflect back, balancing multiple roles was a real challenge for me as I scaled the corporate ladder, and still is today. The ability to manage time and prioritise effectively is important.
I have the privilege to work with many women leaders who provided me inspiration in the past and at present. When I started my career in the mid-1990s, the financial controller of the company was a woman, and later I had the opportunity to work closely with the company’s first female group CFO.
I do believe that there are lots of opportunities for women in business out there. What is important is to do what matters to prove yourself and gain the trust of leaders around you. Be seen, make an impression and deliver beyond expectations.
I think many women have a tendency to feel insecure, or that they have not perfected their current role and are not good enough to apply for bigger roles. The “three Cs” of confidence, courage and competence are central qualities to facilitate growth in your career. As young professionals, having the confidence and courage to speak up will get you noticed and distinguished from others, and of course the competency and capability to deliver repeatedly will seal the trust leaders have in you.
As leaders, we play a role in nurturing our team to up their tempo and seize the opportunities to grow and maximise their potential in meeting challenges head on in this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.
Sharmin Hossain CPA
CFO, Aftab Automobiles Limited and Navana Limited
Globally, there are more women in finance now than a decade ago, but the progress is slow and more so in the developing economies. The challenge in developing economies for women in finance is stepping into leading roles. For any given role, women generally feel the need to tick all the boxes, meet all the criteria. On the contrary, male counterparts do not necessarily feel the pressure of being a perfect fit for the role.
According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2021 released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Bangladesh ranked 65th among 156 countries in terms of gender equity. Indeed, it is a leap forward, notwithstanding the inherent challenges faced by women.
Women in finance can bring in a more structured approach to decision-making. More and more, organisations are starting to see the importance of engaging women in leading finance roles. This being an emerging trend in developing economies, women with the right qualification, experience and willingness to put in the time and hard work are quite likely to see themselves grow and flourish in this sector.
The challenge lies in being able to put in the time. In certain cultures, women are still expected to focus more on raising children and tending to family. Their job is seen as a means to increase household income. Hence, instances where women have chosen a new and challenging role in finance may be few and far between, since individual growth is not an area of focus.
There is also the issue around gender pay gap in finance, which is yet to be addressed with some seriousness in both developed and developing economies.
Haryane Mustajab FCPA
Chief operating officer and head of finance, Bird & Bird ATMD
When I started my career, the corporate world wasn’t really made for women. Working 12-hour days was the norm, but when I decided to start a family, striking a balance was a huge challenge. The constant juggle of motherhood and trying to make it in the corporate world took a lot of work, but I wanted to be successful as both a mother and a finance professional.
Things have changed, but the question is whether the pace of change has been fast enough.
Many women leave the industry in their 30s, because the balance can be too hard to achieve. One of the most important lessons that I have learned in almost three decades working in finance is to never be ashamed or afraid to ask for help. Find likeminded women in your network, ask for help and be supportive of each other’s careers.
It is also important to invest in your learning and development, but this can be a challenge for working mothers. As a leader, I carve out time for finance professionals who I know are mothers and encourage them to invest in themselves. There is a constant need to upskill to keep up with change.
Empathy is a very important skill in leadership, and it is something that I believe women can tap into very naturally. Showing compassion and empathy encourages people to come to you with their ideas and their concerns. Things are changing, and men are learning the importance of these traits in leadership, but for women I believe it is innate. Never underestimate the value of these leadership qualities.
Meet the experts
Fatimah Mis FCPA
Fatimah Mis FCPA head of business finance at TM ONE, the business-to-business arm of Telekom Malaysia Berhad. She also sits on the boards of several subsidiaries of Telekom Malaysia (TM) Group. She has more than 20 years of experience in finance, and was most recently the financial controller for TM Group.
Sharmin Hossain CPA
Sharmin Hossain CPA is a senior financial professional based in Bangladesh. She started her career in the oil and gas industry before completing postgraduate studies in accounting and financial management in Melbourne. Hossein has finance and accounting experience across various industries and is currently CFO of Aftab Automobiles Limited and Navana Limited, which is part of the Navana Group.
Haryane Mustajab FCPA
Haryane Mustajab FCPA is a Singapore-based finance professional with multi-disciplined and sectorial expertise. She has been chief operating officer and head of finance at law firm Bird & Bird ATMD for the past two decades. Prior to this, she spent eight years in EY’s audit and assurance services division. Mustajab has extensive expertise in initial public offerings, judicial management, due diligence reviews and partnership.