By Akanksha Madan | Images provided by Yale-NUS Women in Business
On 11 September 2019, Yale-NUS Women in Finance, a committee of the student organisation Yale-NUS Women in Business, hosted the third edition of their annual conference. The conference brought together panellists from Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and Citibank to share their insights on the issue of ‘Sustainable Finance’.
As the corporate sector grapples with a newfound emphasis on environmental issues, the conference endeavoured to answer the question: “What is the finance industry doing to work towards a sustainable future?” The speakers, who had varied engagements with sustainable finance — from Asset Management and Risk to Syndicated Loans and Green Bonds — shared their experiences and analysed the financial industry’s potential to drive change.
Attendees, ranging from current undergraduate students to recent graduates, had the opportunity to probe the speakers further in a question-and-answer session and to speak over dinner. Garima Chib (Class of 2023) appreciated “that the speakers were so eager to share their experiences”. Consequently, she developed a deepened awareness of the importance of “us, as the future generation, to best achieve the goals of sustainable finance”.
Founded in 2017, Women in Business aims to cultivate a support system of skills, knowledge, and networks for women across all business sectors to help them bridge the gender divide in traditionally male-dominated fields. The organisation’s committees focus on Finance, Entrepreneurship, Policy, and Technology respectively.
Chitvan Bansal (Class of 2022), President of Women in Business, finds the “incredibly supportive community” to be the group’s most unique feature. “When I joined the organisation, I was pleasantly surprised and did not expect such a supportive culture in a professional development club. This culture, however, ensures the organisation’s continuity,” she said.
“The conference helps us not only to bring industry leaders to Yale-NUS, but also to put our name out there before company representatives, helping in future recruitment,” explained Lucy Zhu (Class of 2022), President of Women in Finance, about the motivation to organise this annual flagship event. As with all Women in Business events, the overarching objective is to “provide exposure to young women and to support them in developing the content knowledge and skills necessary for pursuing a career in this field,” she noted.
With this year’s conference, Chitvan mentioned that the Committee “aimed to expose our members and the audience to the impacts of sustainable investing in driving systemic change, the key trends in this field, and the opportunities and challenges unique to sustainable finance”.
Lucy added that the Committee endeavoured to cater to the needs of a diverse audience – providing experiential learning in a professional environment for younger students, while ensuring that more experienced attendees benefitted from the deep expertise of the conference speakers.
Women in Business’ annual events include the Women in Finance Conference, the Social Entrepreneurship Fair, and the Women in Tech Conference. These major events are complemented by regular fireside chats with industry professionals, office tours, and workshops with external partners. This academic year, with the founding of the Women in Policy committee, the organisation is planning a Policy Hackathon to enable students to learn more about the connections between business and policy.
The Women in Finance Committee will also commence a peer-learning programme to help students develop domain-specific knowledge in an enriching environment. They hope to continue their spotlighting of industry-pertinent issues, while attracting a diverse audience, at their next annual conference.