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India's Lack of Women Bankers a Concern

India's Lack of Women Bankers a Concern

Aisha De Sequeira, head of investment banking at Morgan Stanley (MS)’s Indian unit, speaks of her experiences as a female executive in the country.

Sequeira, who joined Morgan Stanley in 1995 and has worked with the U.S. bank in New York and Mumbai, is among 14 of the most senior women in India’s financial industry.

On the lack of female employees in investment banking teams:

“It’s a very interesting phenomenon in India, a lot of the leaders of Wall Street firms are women but their teams don’t share that demographic profile at all. That’s a concern going forward. You keep hearing about the same names over and over again, who have been in the news for the last three to four years.”

On the longevity of India’s top women in business:

“The good thing about women in India is not only that they have risen to the top but they sustain there for a very long time. In the U.S. you hear cases like Carly Fiorina; she made it to the top very quickly but within two years she was out. Here you see women make it to the top and be successful for a very long time.”

On emerging markets seeing more female leaders in finance:

“At Morgan Stanley, at one stage all our investment banking teams at the emerging markets offices were run by women. Russia and China are still run by women, both of whom are locals.”

On the importance of role models for female professionals:

“For women to see other successful women is extremely important. Formal mentoring doesn’t work because if you force two people together who don’t have the right chemistry, you’re never going to get the right form of mentors.

“When you recruit, it has to be a conscious decision to recruit both men and women, you can’t just leave it to chance.”

On how to play the part of banker even if you don’t look it:

“Women build traction with clients over time, there are certain people who completely look the part of a banker. If I was to walk into a room, I don’t think people would immediately say ‘she’s a banker.’ But if there was a man -- tall, suited -- maybe they would. In the U.S., there is a stereotype of what a banker looks should look like.

“A woman needs to lead with her content. Women are generally viewed to be quieter than men, so one advice given to me was to always make sure not to go to a meeting and say nothing. Sometimes that doesn’t come naturally for women.” 


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