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Shada El Borno, LIBF Alumna and Leader in Banking and Finance on Emirati Women’s Day

Shada El Borno, a pioneer that has been forging her path banking for over 26 years now. Today she heads the Global Subsidiaries team for Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan (MENAP),as the Managing Director at Standard Chartered. She is well recognised in the region for her passionate advocacy of collaborative empowerment and sustainable practices that deliver long term rewards.

In conversation with LIBF, we learn about her journey to becoming one of the UAE’s senior most female Emirati bankers.

LIBF: Tell us a little about what you do on your day-to-day.

SEB: I work at one of the world’s leading banks. Within the Global Subsidiaries team, I lead a team of high-performance finance professionals in supporting reputed multinational clients in the MENAP region.

It is a very dynamic and demanding platform in these times. Not the least because global connectivity and emerging common interests are fueling faster transformation than ever seen before. Multinationals are very sensitive to these movements and, as their financial partner, we not only have to become highly responsive but also anticipate their needs and advocate for their long-term interests.

LIBF: Can you share how your career panned out over the last 26 years?

SEB: After finishing my B.Sc. in Accounting and Finance from the American College of Switzerland, I began my career at Standard Chartered under the UAE Nationals Development Programme. I started with Relationship Management and worked up to several leadership roles in different pockets of the bank. Over the years, I won confidence for fueling business growth, delivering results, and forging high-yield relationships to encourage the organization’s future readiness.

To be a trusted partner who can lead towards a mutually favourable future, I constantly evolve to become a better version of myself. I was encouraged on my journey through recognition for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Banking’ by the UAE Ministry of Labour in 2013, and later when I was invited to join the Board of Directors for the Emirates Institute for Banking and Financial Studies (EIBFS) in 2017.

In due course, I realised that I had a growing curiosity about sustainable finance. Since I am ever a believer in up-skilling, I studied the Executive Certificate in Sustainable Finance from The London Institute of Banking & Finance MENA in 2020.

Since then, it has been an amazing journey in a very purposeful direction and today I am grateful that I get many opportunities to explore strategic innovations with likeminded peers.

LIBF: What is the direction of your purpose?

SEB: My mission is to empower people and organisations, and to pioneer innovative and sustainable solutions for long-term rewards. My degree helped to give me a foundation in this direction. I was also deeply motivated to discover that my mission resonated with the future paths chosen by the UAE’s leadership – both economic priorities and the sustainable development agenda.

LIBF: You were recently included by House of Rose Professional in their 2022 ‘Break the ceiling, touch the sky’ list of the Middle East’s Most Inspirational Women in Leadership. What would you say are the values that brought you to this point?

SEB: I hold my favourite lessons close to my heart. I always remember to:

1. Be humane and keep on top of my emotional intelligence

2. Be brave and stand up for myself and others to preserve a fair and equitable workplace

3. School never ends so we can never stop learning

4. Ask and adapt continuously – keep questioning the status quo for constant growth

5. Bond and build with the people around me, and ask for help without shame

With these practices, I hope I can help harness human potential and responsible business practices for positive change.