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Strate celebrates women’s month

Interview with Farzana Khan, Head of Collateral Services shares her career experience

How did you find yourself on this career path?

Quite by accident, to be honest! Throughout most of my high school years, I had my heart set on being a psychologist. Due to circumstances, I was unable to study fulltime after school, and found myself working in financial markets 2 weeks after my final Matric exam and studying Psychology part-time, through Unisa. Life happened while I was making other plans, and though I completed my graduate degree, I did not pursue the relevant post-graduate studies that are a pre-requisite for a career in Psychology. I had, in the meantime, advanced up the corporate ladder and found myself leading the Securities Lending team at RMB a few years after the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. There was recognition on my part that collateral management and optimisation would grow in importance, and this became a key focus area in my previous role. When the Head of Collateral Services role became available at Strate, I jumped at the opportunity to be involved in helping to elevate the South African capital markets to international standards. 

What and who inspires you?

Authenticity and the courage to do what is right, even if it is not popular. Emerging leaders like Greta Thunberg give me hope for the future. People that we encounter in our daily lives, overcoming adversity, are equally inspirational as anyone that might be in the public eye. These stories are more prevalent than we may think, we just need to be alive to them.

What advice would you give to women starting out their careers?

This would be the same advice that I give to my teen daughters: it’s OK to not have a clear idea of what career path to follow, it’s OK to not have it all figured out, with a detailed 5-10 year plan in mind. As I’ve mentioned, life happens while you’re making other plans, and you need to be flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances and to make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. Treat each opportunity as a learning experience, even if it turns out to be different to your expectations.

What has been the most valuable skill you have ever learned? And how has this helped your career?

The most valuable skill that I have learnt is the importance of developing and managing trusting partnerships and relationships. When there is trust, collaboration and working towards a common goal for successful outcomes is almost guaranteed, and this has helped me tremendously with my clients, peers, direct reports, and managers.

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