Isha Nawaz

In Her Shoes: Isha Nawaz | Vice President, Business Information Security Officer, Bank of America

Isha Nawaz Tell us a bit about yourself, background, and your current role

I currently work for Bank of America and have been at the bank for just over 7 years now. My role here is really to help mitigate risk associated with cyber and the ever-changing threat landscape. Prior to that I have worked in several client facing role across Retail, Corporate and Investment Banking.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

I try to wake up early to get a head start on the day, the morning consists of a frantic rush to organise myself and my two girls for the day so making lunches, drop offs and then head into the office. On the way in I will listen to a podcast or some music and drink an herbal tea – my idea of bliss.

The days ends in a similar vein to the start, getting prepared for following day, cooking tea (yes, I’m Northern so we call the evening meal tea in my house). I then spend time with my girls hearing about their day and finding something to laugh about, followed by another herbal tea a bath and then bed.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not really, I did Dance and Drama at college and worked in a bank in the evening supporting the overflow of the day team in processing loans and credit cards. I always saw myself in a more creative role and never envisaged I would work in an office, certainly not a bank office. I have started to plan short term in recent years but that tends to be very much like putting one foot in front of the other.

What do you love about working for Bank of America?

I joined the bank at a very difficult point in my life, but I was so fortunate to meet kind and caring people who have supported me along the way. I have genuinely made friends for life working at the bank.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you overcome these challenges?

Life is full of challenges both in our personal and professional lives, so yes of course I have. In my earlier days at Bank of America I recall someone saying just keep being true to yourself and that has really stuck with me.

Have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?

I have had mentors and sponsors pretty much for most of my career and there are massive benefits, one of my mentors, Michelle Garrigan (who will share her personal story on how sponsoring, mentoring and coaching accelerated her career at the Level Up Summit in December), has been able to connect me on many of occasion with industry partners and peers; which proved invaluable to the success of one of the projects I was working on at the time. Aside of that I know Michelle is always at the end of the phone when I need her and have been able to talk through some of those more challenging moments. Right now, I am really enjoying being able to pay it forward.

Have you benefited from coaching, mentoring or the sponsorship of others?

I have begun mentoring others in last two years properly and initially I was expecting I wouldn’t necessarily benefit from doing so, but that quickly changed. Its so eye opening to hear the journey of others and the challenges they face. In addition, the whole reverse mentoring concept is one that I really enjoy as quite often I learn most from the Graduates, Apprentices and Interns I mentor as they often have such a different perspective but also have a mindset that can automate everything and just really utilise tech and tools to our advantage.

Do you believe in the power of networking? If so, where do you network?

100%... I think networking is underutilised and we can massively miss out by not networking. I truly believe in the power of networking and absolutely I do network. It tends to take place through my day-to-day role but also through my Diversity & Inclusion efforts.

What advice would you give to those who aspire to a career in tech?

Identify your strengths and play to them but also find your passion in whatever you decide to do; lastly technical teams need diversity, so don’t assume you have to be deeply technical to work in tech.

What does the future hold for you?

Who knows what the future holds for any of us, I think must trust the process but what I do know is I will continue to work hard and support others. I believe everyone can win!