Day in the life of Donia Rouigueb
This article is part of the 2023 Spring Magazine, which can be accessed here.
Global Investor presents “A day in the life”, where we spotlight trailblazers in the financial industry. For our Autumn feature we spoke to Donia Rouigueb, head of sales in charge of developing CACEIS Group’s Securities Finance and Repo services amongst the group custody franchise.
How has 2023 been for you so far?
It has been quite a busy year helping existing clients take advantage of lending and financing opportunities with all the changes in the markets. On top of that, CACEIS’ recent acquisition of RBC’s European activities also broadens our client base and brings both new growth opportunities and challenges for our business going forward.
As you look forward, what are your career and professional development aspirations within your sector?
Being part of a changing business sector definitely keeps things interesting. During my 17 years in the industry, it has gone from being barely regulated to the complex operational framework of today. Sustainability is a key topic for securities lending as well as for the entire financial industry and looks set to remain so for decades to come. I could see my professional career development path evolve in this direction as I believe I have a lot to contribute to the sustainability debate.
Amid challenging periods, how do you sustain your motivation and engagement in your job? Can you share how you achieve a balanced work-life dynamic and overall wellness?
To keep myself motivated and engaged during moments of high stress and heavy workloads, I often think back to a quote I read a long time ago – “this too shall pass”. Giving one’s best in a situation and keeping a positive mental attitude is far better than overthinking things and worrying about issues we cannot change. Win or lose, there are positive life lessons to learn – you just have to carry on.
Having said that, maintaining a good work/life balance is fundamental and requires excellent organisational and problem-solving skills. My job requires a lot of business travel, people management, and discussion on different and sometimes complex topics all day long, but if you are well prepared and well organised, you’ve done half the job already!
An important aspect of a balanced work-life dynamic is focussing properly on your current priority. I give 100% at work, and 100% in my private life. Also, as you get older, you realise how important it is to take time for yourself, so you can mentally and physically recuperate and be more engaged with the people in your home and business life. For me, piano practice is a very relaxing activity that helps me mentally re-energise, and I find physical activities such as hiking in the mountains also an essential part of maintaining things in perspective.
In what ways has the industry transformed over the years?
As an OTC business, the industry was often criticised for lacking transparency, however the regulatory framework has evolved to such an extent that it now offers a high level of transparency for market participants and end-investors. The industry has come a long way but there remains some work to be done.
We have also experienced a massive hike in trading volumes and in the complexity of transactions and associated reports. To handle these volumes and complexity, technology has become a central part of our business and now our junior traders all have an IT engineering background to handle their job. That wasn’t the case 15 years ago...
Are there specific changes you’re anticipating?
I sense that regulators want this OTC industry to act like a listed one, so there will probably be some major changes involving standardisation and as consequence automation to handle it. I believe we will also see investors and markets taking a more practical view on ESG and sustainability as the current framework is still not totally clear.
If you had to sum up your journey in the industry in a single word, what would it be and why?
“Unexpected!” I started in the lending industry because I took a chance as a young graduate in Finance and didn’t know anything about this business. I just had a very good feeling about the person who wanted to hire me! 17 years later, I live in an another country, travel throughout Europe and meet so many different and interesting people, which satisfies my curiosity and constant need to learn. I never thought I would go this far.
You’re a member of the Women in Securities Finance (WISF) group. What inspired you to join, and how has this initiative contributed positively to the industry?
I think that like a lot a people, my thoughts on the topic have evolved. I didn’t want to be involved in the beginning because like any woman or person in general, I want to be valued professionally for my skills and not because of my gender. But so much has changed since this type of initiative began and I now think that if we need to raise visibility to make a positive impact then I am of course happy to humbly participate.
However, I think it is important to send the right message: it is about inclusion, and men have a crucial role to play in that too. It is not just about championing women but really about getting to a place where we don’t need to think about these biases in the workplace.
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