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OxWIB Inspire Conference 2023

The OxWIB Inspire Conference 2023 was a huge success. The conference involved four different panels with inspirational women from the tech, finance, crypto, and consulting industries, as well as an opportunity to network. It was so useful to hear from leaders in a range of different sectors, and their experiences and challenges faced from working in these male-dominated industries. Thank you to ZS for sponsoring this event!

Women in Tech

For the women in tech panel, we were joined by Basola Vallés, Ana Paula Assis, and Fuencisla Clemares. Basola is currently Senior Vice-president Strategic Customer Partner at Salesforce in the SEMEA region. She focuses on building partnerships with strategic clients of Salesforce, leveraging her hands-on executive experience and digital knowhow. Ana Paula is the Chair and General Manager of IBM in the EMEA region. She is responsible for IBM’s business operations, driving revenue growth, as well as client satisfaction and employee engagement in a region with more than 100 countries. As the Chair, she is also responsible for IBM’s relationship with the European Union and other institutions across the region, advancing topics that matter to their business and society. Fuencisla has held the position of CEO of Google for Spain and Portugal since 2017. She works to promote the digitization of Spanish companies and society.

Hearing the advice of three leaders in the tech field was a great privilege. They emphasised that although the tech industry is very male dominated, being a woman in tech can be used as a ‘superpower’ because it is often the case that they are the only woman in the room, so they can offer a unique perspective. As technology is an ever-evolving industry, with the cycle of technology being around 3-5 years, it is crucial to be adaptive, and to keep developing your skills. Basola’s key advice was to have a variety of experiences, and to not be afraid of starting new roles, because you never know what you will learn.

Women in Finance

On the women in finance panel, we had Felicity Anderson and Manon Mendez join us. Felicity is a managing director of interest rates product trading at Goldman Sachs. She joined Goldman after earning an MPhys in Physics from Worcester College, Oxford. Manon is currently a principal at Blackstone Credit, having previously worked on the distressed debt trading desk at Goldman Sachs, investing in both private and public distressed companies and special situations across the capital structure.

Felicity highlighted that you don’t need to come from a business or economics background to go into finance, as in her case there were many transferable skills which she could use to her advantage from her Physics degree. As both women were unsure what career path to take at university, they advised to get involved with summer internships and spring weeks to get a taste of prospective careers. During internships and in the early stages of careers, it is important to keep asking as many questions as possible, as no question is a stupid question. They also highlighted the volatility of finance as an industry, and how everyone makes mistakes, so it is important to be resilient in the face of setbacks.

Women in Crypto

Joanna Jenkins, Lauren Ingram, and Quynh Ho joined us for the women in crypto panel. Joanna is currently head of EU and UK compliance at Binance, which is the world’s largest cryptocurrency Exchange. Lauren Ingram is the founder of Women of Web3, which is a community which helps women make the leap into the world of Web 3.0 through job opportunities, learning resources and connections. She has 11 years of experience in marketing for agencies and tech companies including Meta, where she was responsible for Meta’s program for female entrepreneurs, #SheMeansBusiness. Quynh Ho is a Vice-President at Investments at GSR, which is a leading crypto trading and investment firm. She invests in promising early-stage crypto and Web 3 companies and assesses strategic opportunities. They discussed topics such as the fast growth of crypto, imposter syndrome, and how you should not let the range of crypto jargon put you off from breaking into the field.

Women in Consulting

For our final panel of the day, we had Pragati Lodha join us, who is a Partner at ZS with 15 years of consulting experience. Pragati is regarded as an expert in helping clients establish highly functional and efficient global analytics capabilities, partnering with them end-to-end from defining the vision and strategy to developing the operating model. Pragati leads the analytics area for ZS for ex-US and has teams globally. She has also published thought leadership articles on global analytics. Throughout her career, she has worked on a number of different projects, predominantly in the pharmaceutical industry. She also discussed balancing her successful consulting career whilst being a mother of 2.


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