Our team recently met Cristina Ferreira, Product Executive at State Street Bank International. This was an opportunity for her to tell us more about her professional career and how she promotes the role of a woman in the financial services industry.
Can you tell us more about your professional career and your current missions within your company?
I joined State Street in 1997 and it was my first job in the financial industry. I moved every few years to a new department and new role helping me develop my business acumen and getting exposed to different leaders in the company. Currently, I am a Product Executive with global product responsibilities and leading the EMEA Product team.
What are your biggest professional achievements? Why?
When I think about my professional achievements what comes to mind are the people I worked with and were part of those achievements. A few come to mind in 24 years of career and the ones I enjoyed particularly were:
The overhaul of our AML/CTF processes further to regulatory changes. It was impacting all business lines with tight deadlines to bring our clients records into compliance. It involved a lot of hard work by many people but also long-lasting connections. There was a sense of achievement as it was a large undertaking and we were able to make the changes on budget and on time, while maintaining client satisfaction high in addition to a strong relationship with the regulator.
Managing the first Supervisory Review and Evaluation Process of the ECB on State Street Luxembourg. In particular, the interactions with the ECB Joint Supervisory Team. The feedback from the ECB was positive on all aspects as it examined the Bank’s risk profile by assessing the business models, the governance and risks, capital and liquidity adequacy. Again all business lines had to contribute to requests from the ECB to conduct their review and bringing the teams together to provide a coordinated and consistent response was of great satisfaction.
In those two examples what I consider as being my biggest achievements is the knowledge and experience sharing through information and briefing sessions but also contributing to training materials.
How, almost on a daily basis, do you promote the role of women in the financial services industry? What else should be done?
I try to be a role model for the younger generation and even if it means getting out of my comfort zone. For example, I took a speaking opportunity that was not my area of expertise. With a bit of work, we can do anything, reach any heights and women should not limit themselves. It’s already tough being limited by others. We also need to take any opportunity to call out on any visible and invisible gender stereotyping. For example when I saw a message on mental health that used the picture of a woman to illustrate the narrative, I immediately contacted the sender noting that the message implied women are related to mental health issues. When I was recruiting for a position and received only male applicants and HR said that no women applied. I refused to proceed with interviews until HR had actively looked for women to apply. They eventually contacted a few women who then applied. Once I had a diverse slate, I proceeded with the interview.
It’s important to speak up in situations of blatant gender stereotyping. Some individuals do not even realize it until you call it out. We have been programmed for gender inequalities for thousands of years so the task at hand is immense if we target world gender equity. Some countries, especially democracies are more advanced than others. But people move between countries and with 170 nationalities in Luxembourg, education plays a crucial role in forging a gender equal society.
In the financial services, it needs to be a top down approach and leaders need to walk the talk. Men leaders, in particular, need to believe in equality and take visible actions to address inequalities. If diversity really matters, then we need to see tangible change in the recruitment, promotions, benefits and organizational redesign processes.
Can you share with us some initiatives or projects you participated in, in order to promote the role of women?
When I took the chair of the Professional Women Network (PWN) at State Street, the first action was to nominate a male co-chair. The message was simple, women cannot achieve equality alone but only by working together with men. It was also a signal that PWN is not a women’s club but for men and women who believe in gender equity and want to be equally engaged in the solution.
Promoting the role of women is about using every opportunity to expose inequalities and call for accountability. Be this raising it at a Board meeting or leadership meetings, where no women or only one woman is sitting; hosting events to underscore commitment to change and raise awareness.
As a member of the State Street PWN Global Advisory Board, I was part of mentoring and sponsorship programs aimed at amplifying the voice of women within the company and providing career guidance and support. It is important for women to have a network to reach out to, build trusted relationships that will help them grow, and have a safe environment to be themselves without fear of negative impact on their career.
Publié le 08 avril 2021