2022 WiFA Spotlight Series: Today we would like to introduce Vajiha Jamil Parvez, Business Manager for COO APAC in Bank Julius Baer Singapore, who shares with WiFA how she promotes diversity and gender equality, supports female talent, and what gives her hope every day.

Tell us about your background and the journey to your current position and organization. 

My journey started in Lahore where I graduated in BSc Economics. My passion for finance led me to New York where I embarked on an MBA. After graduating, I moved to Singapore and have been based here for 10 years now and happily call it home. It has offered me so much in terms of personal growth but most importantly, it has helped me to excel in my career in ways that have been fulfilling and enriching.

Working for Bank Julius Baer Singapore has been very rewarding. The culture of recognising talent and encouraging growth by the senior management has provided an environment to thrive, and this is evident in the way my career has progressed. As an Associate Manager I was always encouraged to push boundaries and continuously seek to improve my skills. With this mindset, as an Associate Director, I became more confident with using my voice for driving change within the organisation. Now as a Director, I drive initiatives that will bring positive value beyond wealth in personal and professional lives. As a Business Manager for COO APAC, I interact with different teams within the organisation. This is important to me as I enjoy learning about the Bank in a holistic manner.

What gets you out of bed every day, either professionally or personally? What gives you hope? 

The drive for new pursuits, learning the mysteries of human interactions, and trying to ignite a new spark in the mundane drives me the most. I believe that I still have a long way to go to in terms of learning, exploring, and growing but I am proud to admit that I am on this journey.  There is so much to get inspiration from and inspire those around us. I absolutely love meeting new people. I always walk away learning a thing or two about the world whenever I meet someone new. Professionally, challenges that help me to learn new skillsets and change hard held views really drives me.

I am a mother to three wonderful children and I am in constant awe of them. Each one has a unique personality which continues to ignite a spark of wonderment and hope in me: wonderment of human growth and hope of bringing up good and ambitious people. This drives me on a personal level. I try to be a better version of myself everyday so my children have a role model who encourages self-development.

How do you promote diversity and gender equality in your own life and workplace?

I am a mother of 2 beautiful girls and we are fortunate to have a feminist in our house, my husband, who encourages and supports us to reach our potential in whatever we are doing. It’s important to have a male ally when creating a home environment where women are valued and their voices heard.

Personally, when promoting diversity and gender equality in the workplace (or anywhere for that matter) the most important thing is to keep the sub-conscious biases aside especially when taking on a task or a new project. I make a point of amplifying voices of those who are underrepresented but most importantly, I keep a check on my own language and how that might be encouraging harmful stereotypes. I always make a point of educating myself on how to make my language inclusive.

I am fortunate to have a great manager at work who adds immense value to my learning and development by making me a subject matter expert for various topics. Through the right support and your own hard work I feel you can work on the self limiting biases that hinder your growth. The key is always to believe in yourself, your capabilities, and have sincerity in whatever you do in life. Once your work starts speaking for you, success will follow.

Please provide an example where you have promoted/supported female talent.

I am part of the women network at BJBS to support and motivate women in the bank through professionally stimulating and personally relevant initiatives. This is one of my biggest contributions in terms of time and effort for the betterment of female talent for the firm. I often see women going into self-doubt, especially the ones who are trying to balance family and career. Through this network we focus on encouraging and motivating women to aim for higher achievements; to know they are not alone in balancing personal life with work. Everyone faces their own set of challenges that they need to overcome but this initiative helps women to network with seniors and find a mentor who can provide guidance.

We arrange events where senior women connect with the junior colleagues in the system to talk about their professional journey so they see the potential they have and to continue working hard. I firmly believe in this quote by Robert Ingersoll, “We rise by lifting others” and I feel we all need to play our part in helping each other to enter spaces which have historically been a no-go area for women.