Blog by Shirley Harel, VP Global Human Resources, Surecomp
Here at Surecomp, we are proud to promote gender equality. In recognition of this month’s International Womens’ Day (IWD), we focused on hearing every woman’s voice by hosting a series of cross-cultural roundtable discussions. We heard inspiring insights from women across the company; about the many roles they play in life, their work experiences, their pleasures and their pains. We are confident this kind of open discussion will allow us – both internally and more widely across the trade finance ecosystem – to take another step towards breaking the gender bias and fostering collaboration. Here product manager Meike Kothe gives us her thoughts:
How did your career in trade finance get started?
When I first started my career in banking twenty-five years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a management training program in international finance which allowed me to combine two passions – trade economics and travel. I started working in trade finance in Germany, did forfaiting in London and then moved to Hong Kong to work in international trade for another three years.
I had some tough times in the beginning and faced many challenges, mostly resulting from cultural differences and language barriers. However, I’ve met many inspiring people, men and women alike, who’ve been supportive, shared their knowledge and challenged me to grow.
I’ve particularly enjoyed doing project-based work as it’s given me experience and perspective across so many different areas, allowing me to rapidly expand my skills. Now at Surecomp, supporting banks and corporates in their efforts to streamline their trade finance processing is a natural extension of my earlier project work.
What do you value most about your job?
Probably the diversity and the opportunity to work with customers from all over the world. Listening to their needs, then helping create new solutions and functionality that ultimately enable them to improve their business excites me and fills me with pride.
The collaborative nature of this job is also of great importance to me. I manage an international team of analysts and developers, so I’m the facilitator who translates for them what the client needs into functional software features, so they can build value-generating solutions.
In my early career, I benefited hugely from others who supported me, and now I can pass my knowledge on to younger professionals, provide guidance, feedback and take on a more mentoring role.
What would you say to other women starting out now in trade finance?
I would say ‘go for it!’ I would encourage any young woman or man to consider a career in trade finance, it’s an exciting time. The acceleration of digital trade finance transformation means that now more than ever before, you can be at the heart of innovation in an industry that shapes the economic health of society and promotes a sustainable future for our next generation.
Women make great project managers, have strong organizational and communication skills and tend to have a realistic view of what needs to be done. But what is most important in my view is, no matter what your gender, that you pursue whatever career is meaningful to you and that it gives you a sense of purpose, achievement and self-worth. Never be afraid to fail, only never to have tried.