Sarah Bennett, 32, has progressed from her first job as an analyst for Morgan Stanley secured during her placement year at Aston University to vice president at Deutsche Bank within 10 years.
The high-flyer is gaining fame as one to watch, after being crowned Birmingham Young Professional of the Year 2015 in the finance category and now being shortlisted in the professional services category in this month’s Future Faces awards – hosted by the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.
Sarah, who studied International Business and German, said: “I was really pleased and surprised. It’s always nice when someone recognises the work that you have done. It’s a great opportunity to meet other young professionals across the West Midlands.
“It’s great to dispel some of the stereotypes that banking is just for men. I’ve had many people ask me if I am the only woman in the office. I thought these sort of stereotypes would have been broken down by now.
“People also think you have to study economics or maths to get a career in banking. But we have people who have come from all sorts of academic backgrounds.
“It doesn’t matter what gender you are or what degree you studied, everyone has transferrable skills and qualities that we can use.”
A government review carried out earlier this year by Jayne-Anne Gahia, chief executive of Virgin Money, found that while more women than men start their careers in financial services, the majority fall out – especially at middle management level.
It also found that in 2015 women only made up 14% of executive committees in the financial services sector.
But given the current trajectory of Sarah’s career, a future at the top is a serious consideration for her.
“I don’t have any structured plan to reach senior executive level, but based on the number of years I expect to work for I don’t want to limit my future potential just yet, so haven’t ruled it out!
“It is great to read some positive examples of Deutsche Bank in the review and I’ve experienced practical examples of what the firm is doing to assist female talent in having the same opportunities for progression.
“I think that companies are starting to be more aware of what their employees want, for example in offering flexible working to help staff with work life balance and having diversity committees.”
As part of her degree programme, Sarah was given the opportunity to work for a year in Frankfurt as an analyst in securities lending for multinational financial services giant Morgan Stanley.
After being promoted to an associate, she began searching for a career back in the UK and secured a position at Deutsche Bank back in the city she enjoyed as a student.
Following seven years of moving between various positions at Deutsche Bank’s Birmingham office, Sarah was promoted to vice president and head of asset management and equity operations in January.
Living so close to Aston has also meant that Sarah has been able to provide advice and inspiration for students seeking similar careers, and has been signed up to the university’s professional mentoring scheme for three years.
She said: “It’s nice to now be able to give back and help the students. When I was at university I never thought I would be one of the people standing in at the front of a lecture theatre telling students how to succeed.
“If it wasn’t for my placement year at Aston I would never have had the same opportunities. It kickstarted my career.”
Asked for one piece of advice she would give to those chasing similar success, she said: “Make sure you take every opportunity that is presented to you. I think that is what I have done and why I have got to where I am today, and there are so many opportunities to grasp at Aston.”
The Future Faces awards will take place at Edgbaston Stadium on Tuesday, 16th September.
Notes to the editor
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