Meet Rachel Murove, an actuarial scientist who left the traditional field to pursue a career in banking. She is Head of Direct Marketing Strategy at African Bank.
What did you study and what has been your career path thus far?
My relationship with numbers and love of a challenge is what drove me to study Actuarial Science at the University of Cape Town. After university, I worked in the traditionally actuarial field of pensions in a consultancy and then an insurance company before making the decision to get into banking. I began as a Retail Analyst at African Bank but quickly moved to the Credit Department where I had the privilege of being exposed to different fields, all of which have resulted in me gaining good insight into how the organisation runs. I have been in my current role as Head of Direct Marketing Strategy for over two years, where data and predictive analysis drive decisions and I remain close to analytics.
What would you say the highlight of your job is?
Definitely when I look at numbers and they begin to tell a story. My job involves a fair share of test-and-learn activities so I get very excited when the numbers start to corroborate a theory. When my team and I use a model to increase sales and it happens, that gets me on a real high. On the other hand, the numbers may point away from a theory and that’s also exciting because it means we are a step closer to understanding the business better.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received that’s helped you in your career?
It would be to seek knowledge and wisdom above all else and everything else will follow. I use this advice all the time. This means when I am faced with a task I am unfamiliar with, for example, I read up on whatever information I can get and I also look for people that I can get knowledge from. It can be people that have done it before me, or people that have an involvement in the project or task at hand.
What would you say it takes to succeed as a woman in finance?
Determination and consistency. Consistently do the small things that will give you the big results in the end. Success won’t just come at once but rather it comes from a series of progressive steps. Develop good habits in the workplace and then hold yourself accountable to maintaining these habits. Consistency will allow you to build a personal brand and this personal brand is what will open doors of opportunity. It also allows you to be able to measure your progress over time and gauge how near or far to fulfilling your goals you are.
There is a perception that the finance sector can be a bit of a "boys club" - would you say you have experienced this stereotype to be true in any way in your career?
No, I wouldn’t say I have. In part, it could be because I have not allowed myself to see it and on the other hand, I started off my career reporting to women for pretty much the first four and half years. These were the times I was gaining my confidence in the marketplace and learning to have a voice. A number of the opportunities I have been given since starting off at the bank were by males and I believe consistently putting your best foot forward and producing good results will outweigh biases or stereotypes.
What tips would you give to those entering the finance world?
Whatever you do, never stop learning or seeking opportunities to learn. The value of knowledge is that no one can take it away from you so get as much of it as you can. Don’t rush to think about money - as long as you continue to grow and learn, your value will increase, so get that first and the money will follow. In keeping with learning and growth, try and get a mentor - there are people that have been where you are and are where you want to be. Learn from them; there is no need for you to make an already-made mistake.
Define what success means to you and then work your way to achieving that success. Avoid comparing yourself to others as this sometimes will result in you failing to celebrate some of the smaller achievements. Also have fun while you are it. There is a lot of pressure in the world today and there is no time like the present to have fun and be happy.
WANT MORE ’FEMMES IN FINANCE’? READ HERE:
Economist At Citibank - Gina Schoeman | Technical Analyst - Moxima Gama | Client Manager at Incompass Financial Solutions - Anja Du Plessis | Retail Client Service Consultant at Coronation Fund Managers - Kylie Janse van Vuuren | Equity Analyst at Avior Capital Markets - Janine van Wyk | Fund Analyst and Investment Specialist at Amity Wealth - Roné Venter | Private Wealth Manager at NFB Private Wealth Management - Mikayla Collins | Head of Strategic Markets at Allan Gray - Thandi Ngwane
Nicole Cameron is a features writer with over twelve years’ experience, focusing primarily on the business market with a niche focus on entrepreneurship. She has written on a variety of topics for Sharenet and is excited to be focusing on women in finance in her new monthly column "Femmes in Finance". She holds a Business Science degree from UCT and is passionate about reporting on the events and people that make up the local business landscape.