20 July, 2022
#20 Portrait of a woman in finance: Samira Rifi
“Don’t hesitate… just go for it! If you can’t change something, change yourself.”
As a child, I had many dreams. I wanted to be a police officer, a store owner and so much more. However, working in an office was my ultimate dream. I can confidently say that I am living my dream as I work against financial crime on a day-to-day basis. However, this did not come easy. From a young age, I was expected to go into certain careers “set for women”. This included becoming a nurse or being a kindergarten teacher. These careers aren’t inherently bad careers, I have a lot of respect for those who work in these sectors. However, it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. At the end of my studies, I decided to go into nursing. After a couple of years of studying, I knew that this wasn’t the career for me. I needed to take a leap of faith and do something that I genuinely wanted to do.
Seeing women working in an office was a great motivator for me. I stopped going to nursing school and started my life again in my twenties. At that moment I told myself: “Just go for it. Even if you don’t have a degree, take the job and do what makes you happy.” This is a piece of advice that I would give to young women hesitant about entering the workplace. You must do what makes you happy. You need to make sure that you are making decisions in your life that will make you feel fulfilled. Often, we are stuck with the mindset of whether our career will make our parents happy, but your happiness is their happiness. Even if you do not choose the future they imagined, they will still be proud of you. Today I have been working at Triodos bank for almost 7 years where I started as a payment administrator, then moved to the back office and since April 2019 started a new challenge in the Customer Integrity Monitoring Team. There I started as coordinator of a team of 5 people where I quickly progressed to a teamleading position over about 12 people and in March 2022 I got the opportunity to start in the same team as KYC & Financial Crime manager of a growing team that contains 30 people.
Not only your family will be happy to see you succeed, those who work around you as well. I have been surrounded by amazing managers who were almost always women. They did not only believe in my talent and saw the potential in me to lead a team, they also understood the amount of effort it takes to be a woman in finance. We can all relate to working extremely hard at our jobs during the day and trying to make it home back in time to tuck the kids into bed. These inspiring women made me realize the strength I had within myself, the Super Woman that I am today. They provided me with a safe space to fail, pick myself up, and try again. When you surround yourself with that kind of people and work in such an environment, it will give you an abundance of energy. This will be your drive and motivation to work hard not only for your present self, but for your future self as well.
One thing I would like to ask my past self is “Why did you wait so long? With your ambition, why did you not take that chance earlier?” There lies no value in spending time stressing over the unimportant things in life. Embrace the time that you have now and try to make the most of what you have now because time flies.