18 October, 2021
#11 Portret of a woman in finance: Dana Brants
"It is important to be open to unexpected opportunities."
I wouldn't say that I'm your typical woman in finance. Finance is a bit of a strange world for me because, at heart, I am a historian. When I was 10, I had dreams of becoming a famous adventurer like Indiana Jones. I always had a passion for history. I would have never thought in a million years I would be working in the finance sector!
I studied history at university after having great interest in it growing up. On the induction day, our professors told us that 90% of historians would work in banking. But my first job in banking sort of happened by accident. I was in Belgium finishing my dissertation, spending most of my days reading articles and books in the library. Although I enjoyed doing this, I wanted a change. I opened the newspaper to look for a part time job and saw that the Bank of New York was recruiting historians. They were willing to teach me everything I needed to know for the job working in Global Custody. I didn’t think I’d stay for long, but I ended up staying there for six years, exploring other areas of banking.
Sometimes people ask me if I threw away my history degree, and I would have to say no. I’m passionate about history; it’s what I read and learn about in my free time. Studying history has also taught me to ask questions, to be open minded and curious. Since I didn't come from a finance background, asking questions about the finance world was important in my role. I also think it's important to be in an environment that is diverse, not only in terms of gender, race, or ethnicity but also backgrounds. In SWIFT, I have the pleasure of working with people with backgrounds as diverse as language translation to astro-engineering
After my six years at Bank of New York and giving birth to my daughter, it was time for a change. Whilst on maternity leave, some colleagues encouraged me to apply for another role at SWIFT, which I was offered! I never started out with a career plan. All I knew is that I wanted to study history and work in an international environment, but I've always been open minded to new challenges. I've learned that I need to take control of my own career, as no one else is going to do it for me.
It is important to be open to unexpected opportunities. It's a conversation I've had with my now 16-year-old daughter, who is stressed about the future. I remind her that she is only 16 and she has another 40 years of work ahead of her. My advice is that you should study where you want to study, work hard for your degree and after that, your career is in your hands. Learn and see what is out there but keep an open mind.
Unexpected. That is one word I would use to describe my career. My career was a surprise. The world opened and I took the opportunities that came my way. It has been a journey of experience, growth and constant learning.
Discover all the stories on the Women in Finance Instagram page.