Racha SibaiMy name is Racha Sibai and I am the new VP of Strategy and Global Partnerships at Wahed Invest, the world’s leading Islamic fintech company. 

My experience has been in research and investments for a big part of my career, but I also worked in institutional sales, which gave me exposure to different types of clients and products.

My current role with Wahed came after I realised that women want to invest but don’t have the necessary tools readily available or the knowledge to start. We need to address the financial literacy gap that exists in society and get everyone – including women – to take care of their finances in a healthy and judgment free environment. I joined Wahed to play a part in solving this problem.

Leveraging the best fintech technology and industry expertise, Wahed has become a world leading mobile financial investment platform that improves financial inclusion and social responsibility through accessible and affordable faith-based investing.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

Good question! Yes and no. I’ve spent hours exploring different paths and trying to understand what skills I need to acquire to progress in my career – and to do so in a way that aligns with who I am and what I believe in.

However, I have also realized that although planning for what you want years down the line is great, but as we grow and our career progresses, the planning becomes just a guideline for what you want to achieve and it’s okay to deviate from the original plan. We live in a continuously evolving world and we cannot anticipate where the next opportunity is going to be.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Of course, but it’s part of the journey. Those challenges will probably always continue to exist. I think challenges come in many forms and it’s up to us not to take them too personally, but rather as part of the journey and as ways to develop further.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I think it is like a moving needle. The next achievement is always the biggest until there is one after.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I think it’s about believing in myself and having a wonderful support system while always aiming to achieve more yet still working on the now. I also try to continuously realize my shortcomings and to keep an open mindset to learn and develop. Remember to Always be true to yourself! I believe the more you know who you are and what you want while aligning with your values, the stronger is your definition of success.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology? 

In general, look out for what are the crucial technical skills needed, try to network and meet people, ask more questions, be hungry to learn and curious to explore more!

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

We’ve come a long way but I believe we still have more work to do to eliminate any barriers. Being more inclusive and embracing diversity is one of the ways to overcome those barriers. I think we’re seeing progress.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

The support needs to be internal and an integral part of the company’s DNA. Establishing processes embedded at early stages of women’s careers to progress as well as providing a healthy environment for that. Also encouraging young girls in school to take more STEM courses.

There are currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry? 

Ensure coding and math is compulsory from a young age so it becomes second nature to women. Encourage women to embrace what others have to say and to accept praise and feedback, as this will help to plant confidence in them. Women don’t realize that they know more than they think!  Finally, provide the tools for women to gain the necessary skill set to shape their careers.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc? 

There has been plenty of amazing work being done by women and men to support us in our careers.

I like the Vestpod podcasts– its founder, Emilie Bellet, is always hosting great guests and thought-provoking conversations.

Investopedia with Caleb is also an excellent series that focuses on market updates, new trends in investing and financial education.

Finimize has been hugely impactful when it comes to having a community I can rely on for support, or to gain knowledge on anything new that is shaping the investments world relevant to us retail investors.

Lean In circles, plenty of I&D conferences as well as relevant initiatives and associations can also be explored. I think getting involved, learning to share insights and trying to meet and connect with people can be quite critical. There is always something to learn and you never know who is the one who can open doors for you and you help open doors for them. It is a two-way relationship, as life is give and take!

I am currently participating in a couple of working groups with CFA UK, a society of global investment professionals. This is a great opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions that can help shape positive outcomes for financial services and the fintech sector and the customers we are meant to serve.

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