We should celebrate and make role models of more senior females in the sector – Sira

  • 08/03/2022
  • 0
We should celebrate and make role models of more senior females in the sector – Sira
As it’s International Women’s Day Kirren Sira – portfolio manager at YBS Commercial, reflects on the challenges and opportunities for women in commercial finance.


I’ve worked in commercial finance for nine years, so I’m not a new face in the industry. 

There’s a lot I love about my job – the analytics, building a case and seeing it through, establishing relationships and adding value to the wider goals of the business. 


The challenge, and opportunity, for women 

However, there are challenges – and some of them relate to the challenges many professional women may face. 

For example, networking in a largely male-dominated industry can feel daunting, especially attending events just re-starting after the pandemic. I also find planning my career a challenge. Factoring in what I’m hoping for in my personal life sometimes feels like I might have to choose – especially things like having children in the future. 

Speaking of maternity leave, re-entering a fast-paced environment may leave someone feeling that they are playing catch up with their peers. This is because the business world is ever-changing. 

Taking a career break can feel overwhelming upon return but can also evoke the sense that senior roles are no longer attainable. Many roles – although 9-5 on paper – require a bigger commitment in the form of networking and working on time-sensitive deals outside of hours, which is not necessarily compatible with having a family or other ties. This is where policy change and normalisation of flexible working should come into play. Employers need to understand and act on this. 

I believe that representation is improving in the sector, but we have more work to do on the gender pay gap, the bias women may face, and taking learnings from the pandemic – like flexible working – to empower and encourage success. 

We should also celebrate and make role models of more senior females in the sector, something I don’t believe we see enough of. Admittedly this is difficult as it’s still unusual to see many women on executive boards. This may be because responsibilities outside of work as a parent or carer mean not having the opportunity to invest in networking, brand-building, developing connections and climbing the career ladder. 


What I’ve learned 

For those looking to start or build a career in commercial finance, my advice would be to surround yourself with positive influences. Mentoring schemes can be a fantastic way to gain experience and expertise, and can provide access to very knowledgeable individuals who could help you to move on.

Getting involved in networking groups, like women’s networks, can also add real value and build contacts. 

It’s also essential to have a clear vision of your goal and what steps you need to take to get there. When reaching a barrier, think about what can be done to overcome it, and who can help you with this. Finally, work with your leaders to reach your goal and celebrate your achievements.  

Most importantly, believe in yourself. If you want something – it’s in your power to go out and get it. 


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