Being a woman in finance is not unintimidating. Having to enter the field from an unconventional liberal arts background is not an easy sell, either, with the distribution requirements, the Socratic method of teaching, liberal arts combine academic rigor with work ethics, diversity of perspective and depth of analysis.
My experience at BNP Paribas demonstrated that the liberal arts’ interdisciplinary approach, a well-rounded education and good communication skills go a long way in the workplace, enabling one to learn and thrive in any field. Likewise, BNP Paribas’ campus recruitment reiterates the commitment to diversity through their interest in liberal arts students. Zachary Graham, a member of the campus recruiting team, states: “We need students from all types of backgrounds, all types of studies, and all types of schools. BNP Paribas has a school-agnostic approach for its campus recruiting strategy because we believe that our success is determined on our ability to recruit, hire, and retain a diverse candidate pool. We need BNP Paribas interns who can be innovative, who can lead change, and who come up with unique solutions to the very complicated problems of our clients.”
At BNP Paribas, I have become part of a solid and longstanding global bank, with values and a future vision aligned with mine. At ALMT specifically, I was welcomed warmly, mentored, and encouraged to take ownership of certain key projects. Given the transversal nature of the ALMT activity, which necessitates working with various teams, I was able to contribute to other ALMT teams across the region. This has reshaped my understanding of the business and the organization of the bank to a large extent, thus giving me the confidence to learn from people around me, and inquire about future steps to acquire more expertise.
My views on finance, informed by the clichés of the industry, being highly competitive, solely project driven, and very exclusive, have been challenged at BNP Paribas. Personally, I thrive in fast-paced environments that enhance interdependence, multitasking, corporate social responsibility and innovation, without compromising a healthy work-life balance. I was positively surprised this summer, and able to foresee a future for myself in finance. Moving forward, my BNP Paribas experience has set the bar high for expectations from the workplace. This summer has opened my eyes to the possibility of a positive, meaningful and influential career in finance that transcends the stereotypical Wall Street experience.
In light of my experience, my advice to Bryn Mawr students and alumnae alike is the following:
Find a place that continues to empower you, like Bryn Mawr does. Acknowledge the great energy you have as a BMC alumna. Use your proud and loud voice, and your confidence, even if your field may be far behind in recognizing women’s achievements. Where you start your career matters, who you work with matters, and the values of the company matter. So, choose carefully, choose what you deserve. Hold the Bryn Mawr mission high, and renew your commitment to women’s empowerment, wherever you go.