06 December, 2021
#17 Portrait of a woman in finance: Katia Al Jbrail
"What makes me happy about the change that I noticed in the sector is that there is an increased importance in community, minorities and women who work in the sector."
My parents are long time migrants from Syria, therefore I grew up in an environment where I’ve always wanted to do something that contributed to the community. Simultaneously, I was very maths and science oriented, so I wanted to do something more analytical and technical. I ended up in positions that were quite technical with an added relationship and communication aspect. What makes me happy about the change that I noticed in the sector is that there is an increased importance in community, minorities and women who work in the sector. I can bring the things that I am involved in outside of work, into work. I can be my wholesome self and stick to values that are core to me.
My younger self often times lacked confidence to try out new things. When I would be presented with an opportunity, the first thing I would tell myself is “I can’t do it. I don’t have the skills to do it, nor do I know how to do it.” I had these feelings up until my most two recent positions. After I got my current position, my hiring manager took me to the side and said, “Katia, you said that you did not know how to do this job. Please, don’t ever say that again. I hired you because I trusted you, and I want to help you build up that confidence. If we are approaching you about something, its because we believe in you.” In hindsight, taking this position helped me grow and I have learned so much not only about my career but about myself as well. He continued on and said, “Your next job is not the job you already know. That is not the point of growing, that’s not how you go forward. Try to have more confidence!” These words have stuck with me, and it is a constant reminder that this feeling of confidence comes with time and with added support.
This added support comes from developing trustworthy relationships with the people you work with. I would strongly encourage finding people you can trust and show that they can trust you to do the work you have been presented with. It’s a sort of informal mentoring, but I am so happy that I have been able to develop these close relationships. When building these relationships, you need to bring your true self forward. Engage in various employee resource groups and use these opportunities to connect and make yourself visible. Surround yourself with people who are like minded and will make you comfortable.
Our lives and our careers will go through ups and downs. I like to think of it as a Mediterranean rocky beach town. As an avid hiker, the treacherous paths of the rocky mountains reminds me so much of the path of my career. You have to put in effort to climb, which is certainly not easy. Once you’ve reached the top, you can bask in the sun, in the leisure of the accomplishment, and dip down into a little bay for a refresher when you feel like it. The hard work pays off, no matter how hard it is.
Discover all the stories on the Women in Finance Instagram page.