On this week’s #CareerConversations with LLA, brand ambassador, Seasoned economist and deputy Chief Economist at FBNQuest Merchant Bank, Chinwe Egwim is our muse. As a committee member of the World Bank’s Systematic Country Diagnostic Consultative Committee and an active member of the Africa Development Bank Meetings, as well as Faculty member at the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, Chinwe definitely has a bank of career experience to dish out.
Can you briefly describe yourself and what you do?
I always find this question interesting because I’d like to think of myself as dynamic and so a succinct description may be difficult to achieve but I will try my best.
I am an unapologetic goal-getter, consistently seeking ways to push boundaries and a firm believer of living a purpose-driven life. I also happen to be an Economist with specialization in Macro Economics as well as Fixed Income analysis and I currently work at FBNQuest Merchant Bank (a subsidiary of FBN Holdings).
My role as an economist is refreshing as it gives me an opportunity to critically analyze daily macroeconomic trends (growth, inflation, reserves, policy rate, oil prices, national account, and trade activities amongst others) for business, policy and investment decision purposes. I currently have over 400 economic notes under my belt. Asides, from contributing to the advancement of my firm, I am able to offer recommendations to public office holders and investment advice to business owners.
I am passionate about public finance, fiscal responsibility, economic development as well as inclusive growth and so I tend to commit to social responsibility initiatives that result in socio-economic impact.
I am also an advocate for women empowerment and I gladly offer my expertise, resources and time to uplift women as an Associate in WIMBIZ (Women in Management, Business and Public Service) and Advisory Board Member on 9to5 Chick, The Women International and God’s Wives amongst others.
Fantastic, So how did you start out in your career, and how long have you been in the ‘corporate world?’
My career kicked-off as an economist in the fiscal analysis division of the research department at the Central Bank of Nigeria (Abuja HQRS) almost a decade ago. However, I have spent the larger part of my career in the private sector.
What are some of the things you love the most about being a career woman?
The satisfaction derived from contributing to the advancement of my firm. Additionally, the expression of content I see on faces of those that attend briefings I spearhead. Furthermore, the sense of satisfaction I derive whenever I discover that my raw data conversion has assisted with key decisions that produced positive outcomes.
On a more general note, being a career woman assists with financial independence, enhance one’s social life and creates several mentorship opportunities.
And the downsides – what are some of the challenges you’ve faced, and how did you overcome them?
Both career women and men are exposed to a broad range of personalities. One challenge that is common to 9to5ers is managing multiple personalities. Being exposed to emotional intelligence at an early stage in one’s career is a plus.
What’s your take on cliques or “you can’t sit with us groups” at work? How does one navigate such?
I think healthy cliques are okay, but to make others feel like they do not belong in a specific circle or are unable to ‘sit with you’ is ridiculous, immature and unnecessary.
For those who find themselves on the receiving end of such treatment, my advice will be to ignore and focus on your work. Never force yourself into relationships that threaten your confidence or sanity. Do your work well, it will make room for you and most times pull colleagues towards you. Be the best at what you do!
Of course, we’re going to talk about mentorship – what’s your view on it? Important or nah?
It is very important. I’m a strong believer of avoiding mistakes by learning from others that are experienced and well-seasoned. ‘If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of others’.
Two things – what have been your best and worst career decision – and what did you learn from each respectively?
I have a few on both sides but would prefer to answer this question much later in my career *smiles*.
How do you advice girls facing harassment in any form, from their superiors at work to handle it?
Don’t stay quiet. Have a mentor, sponsor or close colleague you can speak to regarding any career related issues including things like harassment. Depending on the structure of your firm, the HR department should be a contact point. For firms like mine, with women interactive networks, this can be reported through the network.
Do you have a “side-hustle” and what’s your view on having other interests outside of work?
For some unexplainable reason I prefer the term ‘additional stream of income’ as opposed to “side-hustle”. I think it is important to have multiple sources of income. Yes, I do have a few but I make sure they do not distract me from my core source of income.
In what specific ways would you advise women to “lean in” more at work?
Be confident and continuously equip yourself so you can execute properly when given an opportunity. Also, try to navigate difficult situations without breaking down. Make sure to soak in lessons learnt and come out with greater strength and resolve.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Perhaps in the policymaking sphere or a development economics role.
Do you think personal branding at work is necessary? If so, how do you build it?
Your personal brand is what differentiates you from others, so yes it is necessary.
How you build it really depends on understanding your career vision (where do you see yourself? What are you trying to achieve? What are your long-term goals?), you need to have an idea of where you are going and this would help.
It is best to be identified for something or in some cases, for a few things and be the go-to person people contact to solve specific issues at work.
What in your opinion are key success principles for upcoming career women, or those just starting out their careers?
Be open to learning, read, follow those that inspire you closely or from afar (whichever is obtainable). Equip yourself by attending seminars, summits, conferences, enroll in a course relevant to your role or industry, obtain professional certificates, and get involved in professional associations.
Be helpful by adding value, don’t worry you will grow and it would be worth it. Remember, if you can’t serve, you can’t lead.
What’s your advice to entry-level/interns new to organisations, what should they look out for or try to achieve?
- Understand the organisational culture and structure.
- Look out for potential opportunities to learn and grow.
- Make sure you can fit the reality of where you are working into your mid to long term career goals.
- Soak in as much as you can from senior colleagues, you are lucky to be in close proximity with some of them – you get first dibs at being a mentee relative to those outside your organisation that are trying to gain access to him or her.
- Perfect your soft skills.
- Work beyond your desk, find ways to be useful outside your defined KPIs but please be disciplined enough to deliver on your core duties as well as any add-ons.
- A successful career person should be able to show technical skills, soft skills, flexibility and diversity – understand these and learn to balance them all.
The Leading Ladies Africa #CareerConversations Series is a weekly interview series which focuses on Leading women of African descent in the corporate world. It showcases their experiences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.
It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes women empowerment and gender inclusion for women of African descent.
Do you know any woman of African descent doing phenomenal things? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we just might feature her.