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Quick Fire Questions: Zainab Kwaw-Swanzy

Quick Fire Questions: Zainab Kwaw-Swanzy

After graduating with a Masters in Mathematics from the University of Bristol, Zainab joined Barclays on a two year graduate programme. She is now an award-winning Senior Digital Product Manager (Vice President), focusing on creating innovative features to keep enhancing the Barclays app. She is Co-Chair of the Barclays Black Professionals Forum, championing diversity, inclusion and equality in the workplace. Ahead of her appearance on the panel for our event ‘Mapping out Tech’, we asked her some quick fire questions.

Could you briefly describe your career journey?

I studied Mathematics at the University of Bristol. During my time at university I completed a summer internship with Barclays which gave me an insight into the Financial Services industry. After I graduated in 2016, I joined Barclays on a two year graduate training programme and completed placements in various teams, from strategy to product management.

At the end of the programme, I joined the Digital Banking team, working on the Barclays app. I am now an award-winning Senior Digital Product Manager (Vice President), ), focusing on creating innovative features to keep enhancing the Barclays app.

I am really passionate about championing diversity, inclusion and equality. I am Co-Chair of the Barclays Black Professionals Forum (BPF), an employee diversity network focused on creating a more inclusive workplace, and attracting, developing and supporting current and future Black colleagues.

What has surprised you most about working in your industry? 

One thing that surprised me when entering the industry is the breadth of opportunities and career paths available. The graduate programme made me realise this because every 6-9 months I was placed in a completely different area to where I was before. I had no idea my current role existed when I first joined Barclays, and even now I meet colleagues doing work that I was completely unaware of.

There are also loads of resources and opportunities for training and career development. We have lots of online modules covering lots of topic, from Technology to leadership. It’s really easy to learn more and upskill yourself, which could be really valuable in helping to progress your career. A colleague of mine is even completing a part-time masters alongside his day job which I think is incredible.

What career advice would you give 20 year old you?

It’s okay to not know what you want to do in future. There are so many options, some of which you don’t even realise exist! Just focusing on pursuing things that you enjoy, and you’ll find a career (or more than one career) that is right for you. Don’t feel the need to pigeonhole yourself either – it’s okay to try new things and change your mind. As long as you’re continuously learning and challenging yourself, every opportunity you explore will be valuable.


Quick Fire Questions: Mo Zamdi (Accenture)

Quick Fire Questions: Mo Zamdi (Accenture)

Mo recently started as an Analyst with Accenture this year following my Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Bath. He’s currently working on a cloud and agile transformation project with a global banking client. Prior to joining Accenture, he gained experience as an engineer in the Oil & Gas industry and as a voluntary consultant within the third sector. He’s joining our panel on the 14th October or our event ‘Mapping out Tech’, which you can register for here.  

We sat down with Mo to ask him a couple quick fire questions prior to our event this week. Have a look what he had to say below!

Could you briefly describe your career journey?

I graduated from The University of Bath with a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering in 2020. As part of my course I completed a year as a valve design engineer for Oil & Gas clients; during the year I discovered that I did not have a passion to be a professional engineer. While I was in my final year I realised that I had always had an interest in Technology and so began identifying career options within the Technology sector. I applied for a role at Accenture for the opportunity to gain a better understanding of business and work with cutting-edge Technology every day.

What has surprised you most about working in your industry?

The range of roles available; there is space for extremely technical and extremely non-technical people within the Technology sector.

What career advice would you give 20 year old you?

Find out the kind of activities that you think you would enjoy in a role, then reach out to professionals already in that position to see if it matches you expectations before applying. This should help you better target your applications and articulate why you want to work in that role during interviews and on cover letters.


Quick Fire Questions: Doyin Ishola (Alfa)

Quick Fire Questions: Doyin Ishola (Alfa)

For our final event, we’ve got Doyin Ishola, Senior Implementation Consultant at Alfa. We asked her some quick fire questions to get to know her ahead of the panel.

Doyin is the functional lead for one of our largest UK client-projects. Aside from my implementation responsibilities, she also co-chairs the Alfa for racial equity community, which exists to foster an environment conducive to racial diversity at Alfa through recruitment, retention and development of racial minority colleagues, and works with allies to instigate positive change, internally and externally.

Could you briefly describe your career journey?

I joined Alfa on the graduate program and have been here for over 3 years now. But my post-university career actually started 2 years before that, in a different graduate program in the semi-conductor industry. There, I enjoyed learning about the industry and working on my technical skills but was soon drawn to the Asset Finance industry and decided to make an early career pivot.
You could say my journey in Alfa is still in the early stages but I have been in some very different roles since I joined. I am currently on a project-focused implementation team and prior to that, I spent 2 years on the Support team where I was responsible for managing the post production relationship for two of Alfa’s clients. Before that I had a 6 month stint on a research and development team which was focused on assessing the viability of introducing new technologies into the company landscape.

What has surprised you most about working in your industry?

There is so much scope and openness to technological advancement. When one thinks about Asset Finance, it’s easy to think “oh that’s just loans and accounting”. While those are fundamental and important areas, there is also a lot of breadth for innovation. Because it is an industry that interacts with many other industries, there are a lot of exciting opportunities to improve the processes with which we make financing possible.

What career advice would you give 20 year old you?

Don’t be afraid of challenging yourself. You are capable and people around you know it.

You can catch Doyin at our ‘Mapping out Tech’ event on the 14th October at 4pm. Register for the event via this link


Quick Fire Questions: Kudzai Malunga (PwC)

Quick Fire Questions: Kudzai Malunga (PwC)

In anticipation of our first event ‘Mapping out Accountancy’, we caught up with Kudzai Malunga, our speaker from PwC. Kudzai is a Senior Associate of Assurance and is a 26 year old Zimbabwean living and working in Manchester. Kudzai has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa, which just also happens to be her favourite city in the world. She also has a Master’s degree in Investment and Finance from Strathclyde University in Glasgow and is currently working on her ACA qualification. Her hobbies include playing sports and reading, with her current indulgence being “You got anything stronger?” by Gabrielle Union. 

Could you briefly describe your career journey? 

My career journey started with various internships within big for, after my IGCSEs I started to seriously think about what I’d like to do once I got to university, fortunately or unfortunately I’m a person who likes to make informed decisions. As such I managed to get an shadowing position within an audit firm, but as a 16 year old there’s only so much assistance you can give on a job but I appreciate the opportunity as I managed to get my feet wet and started thinking that perhaps financial/professional services was where I’d be happy. Throughout university I then took on more internships more in audit, investment banking and advisory, eventually landing in audit and as it stands I still believe I made the best decision for me and it’s been a great journey thus far. 

What has surprised you most about working in your industry? 

The variety of the job! When you hear about the assumptions and general understanding of audit you hear that it’s monotonous and boring. Truthfully this could be further from the truth. In my 2 years with PwC I’ve has the privilege to work in various industries, from Tech Media and Telecomms (TMT), Utilities and Consumer and Industrial products. These different types of clients all come with new opportunities to learn and challenges that help you grow in your profession. While doing these rotations you also work with different team members, this also builds on you, not just professionally but personally as well as you have an opportunity to learn about different cultures, personalities and beliefs which if you go into it with the right mindset? You’ll be a better person because of it. 

What career advice would you give 20 year old you?

For context when I was 20, I was doing my undergrad in Cape Town. I’d tell myself to enjoy the moment, the stress of uni and assignments, enjoy the environment that I’m in. Nurture those friendships.  Embrace the challenges that come up. All the exposure and experiences will undoubtedly shape you and become the foundation of who you are. The friendships will get you through it all. The stress and challenges with build you to be a better professional and enjoying the moment will teach you that there’s always life to be lived and enjoyed. Most importantly I’d tell myself to trust the process and run the race at my pace and mine alone, oh and take SPF more seriously!


Quick Fire Questions: Denise Fernandez (KPMG)

Quick Fire Questions: Denise Fernandez (KPMG)

In anticipation of our first event ‘Mapping out Accountancy’, we caught up with Denise Fernandez, our speaker from ICAEW. Denise is an Audit Assistant and gradated in July 2020 in Accounting and Finance and is in her first year on the KPMG Empowered Audit Programme. We asked her three quick fire questions, to get to know more about her career background.

Could you briefly describe your career journey? 

My career journey has always been straight-forward. Believe it or not, I have always wanted to work in Finance – as a kid, I was convinced I was going to work in a bank. Having in this mind when choosing my GCSEs and A-Levels was very beneficial as I had a rough idea of what I needed to do. I studied accounting at A-level and really enjoyed it, so I went on to do it at degree level. I enjoyed financial accounting the most, so going into audit was the most sensible option for me at the time and here I am!

What surprised you most about working in the industry? 

The most surprising thing about the finance industry is how broad it is. There are a lot of opportunities available, so you always have the option to try new things within the industry and figure it out what you like and don’t like.

What career advice would you give 20 year old you?

I was a 20 year old less than 15 months ago, so I don’t have much advice for 20 year old me. However, I asked my dad and he said he’d tell his 20 year old self to ‘ask every question and listen to every answer. Listen to understand, not listen to reply’.

 

You can catch Denise at our ‘Mapping out Accountancy’ event on the 7th October at 4pm. Register for the event via this link.


Quick Fire Questions: Monikah Lee, Presenter of The Broadcasts

Quick Fire Questions: Monikah Lee, Presenter of The Broadcasts

The Broadcasts are kicking off tomorrow and to celebrate, we caught up with Monikah Lee, our presenter. In the last 3 years, Monikah’s driven and ambitious outlook has led to her raw personality becoming increasingly sought after as a dynamic radio host, vibrant television presenter and engaging events host. Monikah ha worked on international bookings across the Caribbean and in Europe, as well as working with notable brands such as Bacardi, Waitrose, Apple and Selfridges to name a few. She has also worked across No Signal Radio, featured in Channel 4’s six-part debate show ‘4 real’ as well as starring in BBC3’s ‘Gyal Dem Sugar’ programme. We can’t wait to have her as our presenter for our series, in collaboration with The Guestlist!

Could you briefly describe your career journey?

My career as a presenter initially started by taking a leap of faith in crossing the Atlantic to Jamaica and orchestrating myself as a host. For me, my culture is important and I wanted to start my journey where I felt I fit in. With this drastic and impromptu move I interviewed artists such as Mavado, Beenie Man, Masicka, Bounty Killer, I Octane & so many more. Even though I was an amateur I knew I had to create my own space regardless if people approved or not or if I was considered as ‘elite’. That was my entry into the industry and I haven’t turned back since. I have gone on to radio presenting, cultivated my own talk show ‘Talks With Monikah Lee’, content creating and now DJing. There’s no limit to how far I can go and I knew there wouldn’t be any limits to my success because I was in control.


What has surprised you most about working in your industry? 

There isn’t a blueprint to success. It is so easy to dwell on the idea that if you tick ‘x’ amount of boxes the outcome will lead you to a big break. I have had to learn to embrace and celebrate my wins and that my success cannot be measured on what society may depict as the epitome of success. Remaining consistent, building and maintaining good relationships are just as important. One thing that surprises me is that the work never ends, I know it sounds cliche but it’s important to remember that where you started is not where you must remain. There are always opportunities to upskill, delve into other ventures that make you happy and bring you peace. Never underestimate your impact . I am surprised on a daily basis when I hear my name being mentioned in rooms I didn’t even know existed or would welcome me.

 

What career advice would you give 20 year old you?

Do not underestimate the power of your tongue, speak amazing and positive words into your life. Do not be scared to speak your truth and align yourself with brands & people that will help you be the best version of yourself. Your success isn’t dependent on the likes you get and how many followers you have. Work hard, stay consistent and continue to upskill yourself. Social media can make you feel inadequate sometimes, but remember that those moments don’t define your greatness and all you can achieve. Go where you feel welcomed.