What it’s like being a Woman Working in Finance
In honor of International Women’s Day, I would like to share a little bit about my story. I am Diana Tang, a professional woman who has chosen to pursue a career in the perhaps ‘untraditional’ path of Finance. I say untraditional because Finance is one of those industries with a workforce comprised predominantly of men. While it’s true that women continue to make gains each year in entering careers where men have historically had the stronghold, as a society we still have some progress to make before things are entirely equal.
With that said, today I’d like to talk about what it’s like to be a woman working in my field, including some of the challenges and rewarding moments I’ve encountered along the way. I’ll also explain why the company you chose to work for is so important.
As a young person growing up in China, I always had an interest in science and mathematics. This is perhaps what led me to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Actuarial Science at the East China Normal University in Shanghai. Following my graduation, I moved to Canada in 2009 to study for my Master of Mathematics in Actuarial Science at the University of Waterloo. Upon completing my graduate degree, I landed my first job as a Financial Risk Analyst in a local firm in Toronto. After a few years of getting my feet wet in the industry and some experience under my belt, I moved to Vancouver in 2013 for an exciting job opportunity at FINCAD. Fast forward to today and I am still with FINCAD working as a Senior Financial Engineer in R&D.
Why I like my job…
I have to say I really enjoy my role here. There is never a dull day, which is great because it keeps my mind active. Since I started, my job responsibilities have evolved. When I began, I was working closely with our quant team doing market research and writing automation tests. From this role I then shifted to the model validation team, working closely with the product managers during release testing. Now, my work is focused on UAT (User Acceptance Testing) with my efforts placed on aligning FINCAD’s product roadmap and providing end-to-end testing for our cloud-based solutions.
The nature of my job and the fact that I work closely helping to evolve FINCAD’s solutions means that I need to continually keep up to date on trends and advancements in the industry, and therefore I am constantly learning new things. This fast-paced environment is one I believe I thrive in.
How I balance work and family life
In terms of my personal life, I am married and have two young children under the age of five. Sure, life is a little hectic. And of course, I encounter the same struggles as any working mother does. However, I can honestly say that working for a family-oriented company like FINCAD eases many of these challenges. In terms of maternity leave, the top-ups offered by FINCAD were above average and an extraordinary financial help at a time when I needed to be at home caring for my children when they were infants. And even throughout both of my pregnancies, my manager was very sensitive to my situation. To attend my regular prenatal appointments, I had flexibility for working from home when needed. And today I still have the ability to telecommute regularly, which is very helpful.
FINCAD has also been incredibly supportive in helping me further my education and professional development. Currently I am registered for the CFA Level II exam in June 2019. As far as I’m concerned, FINCAD has an excellent policy towards helping employees pursue relevant educational goals. I was reimbursed 50% of my tuition upfront upon enrolling in my courses, and FINCAD reimbursed me the remaining 50% when I passed my CFA exam. I really could not ask for more!
Why picking the right employer counts
I’ll say one last thing about FINCAD and that is I appreciate the inclusive culture. I really feel the company values diversity and welcomes differing background and perspectives. This is seen when talking with our CEO, Bob Park, in walking the halls of our offices and also in FINCAD’s yearly Women in Finance scholarship opportunity, which awards one woman each calendar year $10,000 to put towards pursuing a graduate degree in Finance. Programs likes these go far in giving women that extra boost of confidence and financial support they might need to turn their career aspirations into reality. You can read about last year’s winner here.
Some final thoughts
So, if you happen to be a woman reading this post and are interested in forging a career in Finance, I say go for it! Keep an open mind, pick a good company to work for, embrace the opportunities that come your way, and never forget why you started. The rest will fall into place.