Breaking Paradigms and Building Bridges: My Journey as a Female Central Banker at LBS

By Maudy Halim, MiFFT2024

Growing up as a Chinese Indonesian in Indonesia, I experienced first-hand the challenges faced by underrepresented groups. We were asked to adopt Indonesian names and cultural celebrations like the Lunar New Year were banned. The economic crisis in 1998 triggered protests and riots across the archipelago, some of which targeted the country’s ethnic Chinese community. For years, prejudice against Chinese Indonesian persisted until the fourth president of Indonesia took major steps to promote cultural and ethnic diversity, advocating for the repeal of discriminatory laws. Growing up as a minority, I learned that diversity could be championed through the representation of a prominent leader willing to advocate for a more inclusive society.

This early lesson turned out to be extremely important as I embarked on a career in the male-dominated finance industry. We’re not talking about racial discrimination, but gender discrimination exists here. Research indicates that 34% of women in financial services experience regular gender discrimination, and 52% still face a gender pay gap. As a woman working in this field, I understand that finance has traditionally been a male-oriented domain, where women are often overlooked for simply wanting to have a family or going through inevitable life-changing events like pregnancy. But the world is changing, and more women are breaking negative paradigms, calling for change, and climbing the corporate ladders with extra efforts to finally achieve certain leadership roles. Representation matters, not just numbers, but heard voices and perspectives. We need more women role models in financial services.

As a central banker in Indonesia, I’ve witnessed how the central bank has been transforming itself into a more inclusive workplace. Of course, the journey hasn’t been without its challenges. Although it’s not an extreme gender pay gap issue, but stereotypes towards women remain a persistent issue. However, we’ve learned to turn those challenges into motivation for growth. I’ve seen positive changes that have taken place over the past few years, including an increase in the number of women role models in the organization. When I first joined in 2017, there was only one woman out of six members on the Board of Governors. Today, there are three women out of six-member board. Representation matters; It’s not just a buzzword, but it’s a fundamental aspect of creating a diverse and inclusive environment.

At LBS, not only am I a woman, but I am also a central banker – a less common career path among the Masters in Finance (MiF) cohort, where the majority come from industry roles, and thus there will be a slightly different baseline of finance knowledge. I learned finance from the central bank’s standpoint as a regulator, which differs from those who work directly with financial products and deals. I had to transition quickly and put in extra effort to gain comprehensive knowledge. However, I love the diversity of experiences within the MiF program. I am mesmerized by my cohort’s remarkable backgrounds, and I learn as much from my peers as from the faculty. I also appreciate how the women in my cohort have built a close-knit community. Here are some pictures of us enjoying our time in the UK!

Moreover, I also found that LBS is committed to supporting and empowering women to excel in finance through various initiatives, including clubs, societies, career events, leadership workshops, networking events, and other opportunities. Organizations like the Women in Business Club provide a platform for women at LBS to connect, collaborate, and empower each other in their career journeys. These initiatives will be instrumental to develop women into well-rounded leaders capable of creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces.

My journey is far from over, but my experience at LBS has instilled in me a strong belief in power of representation and the collective impact of diverse voices. As decades of studies show women leaders help increase productivity, enhance collaboration, and improve fairness, I strive to be a role model who can inspire and empower all women out there to break negative paradigms and build bridges for them to enter this industry.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *