Interview of Muriel Aboud Schirmann, FX & Precious Metals Advisory, Switzerland

March 08, 2021

Muriel Aboud Schirmann | gender diversity | Indosuez

Tell us about your profession and its role within the organisation. What are the main highlights of your business over the year?

I am Head of Foreign Exchange & Precious Metals Advisory for Indosuez in Switzerland and I am based in Geneva. We offer the bank's clients access to international currency and precious metal markets. Our mission also includes advising and building efficient strategies to address specific needs (diversification, hedging, optimisation). As for any financial market, prices are constantly changing and sometimes depending on geopolitical crises, central bank interventions or even some tweets, volatility increases sharply. I am therefore never able to plan when the next major event will arise and I have to stay constantly on alert: this is one of the aspects I like most in my job.

 

What is your career path? How did you manage your different career developments?

After a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics, I studied Management then specialised in Market Finance before joining Crédit Agricole group. I have moved from investment banking to private banking, from structured products specialist to foreign exchange advisory with an experience in interest rate derivatives in between. I have been working on trading floors for 15 years now. In my activity, employee turnover can be relatively high so in that respect, my career path might seem uncommon.
But I have been lucky enough to be able to regularly change my working environment: dealing with new underlying assets, giving training classes, integrating the pension fund's investment committee. It kept me motivated all these years.

Behind these opportunities, there were managers, mainly men, who encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and who were able to support me and nurture my self-confidence. They were very important for me, both on personal and professional levels!

 

Was being a woman an asset or handicap in your career? How do you manage your personal and professional life?

Statistics might suggest that being a woman is a handicap for working on trading floors, as men are so over-represented.
For my part, neither my colleagues nor my managers gave me the impression that being a woman would reduce my chances of career advancement or change the way I was considered.

It is obvious that when I had my children the logistics became more complex. However, since I am advising clients based in the Middle East, I can start my day quite early, which allows me to take care of my family in the evening. That turned out to be an advantage.
Moreover, my hierarchy has always been understanding when unexpected events inherent to the life of parents occurred: children sickness, kindergarten temporary closure…

 

How would you analyse the company's evolution in terms of gender diversity? In concrete terms, what initiatives do you and your teams take on a daily basis to make progress in the area of gender diversity?

When I started in the Geneva office, we were only two women on the floor with an all-male management team. Since then, this number has increased and my hierarchy has become almost 100% female!
As a manager, what matters to me are only the hard and soft skills of the employees. So there is no question of positive discrimination.

In reality, most applications we receive come from men and unfortunately women are still quite under-represented in my profession.
The same situation can be found in other industries requiring technical profiles, and I think it comes more from education and culture. I hope to see a change about this in the coming years.

 

What advice would you give to younger generations?

Perhaps two pieces of advice that I would like to share here, the first one is that women should not be afraid to consider making career in this field. The second one is about fulfilment at work: to perform in this job over time, you have to enjoy it. No joy, no success!

March 08, 2021

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