Finance & Banking

Top 300 Most Influential Women in Islamic Business and Finance Named at the 2nd WOMANi 2019 Awards Ceremony

Empowerment of women is the talk of this decade which
includes a focus on their education, status in society, career
prospects and respect. There are a lot of women empowerment
movements going around the globe, ranging from fighting for
rights to equal opportunities; with women empowerment and
gender equity and equality in rage following increased focus on
it as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG#5).

Although, a lot of women are being recognised around
the world for their talents and contributions, the portion of
women in certain male-dominated sectors is still meagre.
Banking and finance is one such domain, and Islamic banking
and finance (IBF) even more so. Cambridge IFA, a UK-based
financial intelligence house, has been promoting the cause
of gender equality in Islamic banking and finance and women
empowerment since 2011, highlighting and promoting the role
of women in IBF through its WOMANi programme. This year
Cambridge IFA hosted the second Women in Islamic Business
and Finance (WOMANi) Awards ceremony and gala dinner in
the vibrant city of Dubai, UAE.

WOMANi is a part of the women empowerment programme
by Cambridge IFA to highlight enormously important roles that
exceptionally talented women are playing in Islamic business
and finance. “Our WOMANi Programme is a small contribution
to the global movement to make the world an equitable place
to live in,” said Dr. Sofiza Azmi, CEO of Cambridge IFA. She
added that one of the aims of the programme was to redress
gender imbalance, by showcasing the achievements of women
in the sector and identifying new role models.

Last year, a list of 100 most influential women in Islamic
business and finance, WOMANi100, was published by
Cambridge IFA. This year the list was expanded to include 300
women who are playing a leading role in and contributing to the
development of the global Islamic financial industry. WOMANi
attempts to compile a list of 1,000 leading women in Islamic
banking and finance in the next 5 years. Its ultimate goal is
to develop at least 1 million women into leadership roles in
government, business, and social sector & philanthropy in the
world as part of the global Islamic economy.

In compiling the WOMANi300 list this year, Cambridge
IFA did extensive research and survey of market opinions, and
conducted extensive and sophisticated processing of available
data, before coming up with a conclusive list of the 300 most
influential women in Islamic business and finance world over.
They were selected on the basis of their influence, inspirational
characters and proven leadership qualities in their own company
and in the wider scale. These assessments were carried out
using a methodology based on three factors: Professional
leadership, Advocacy and Industry-wide recognition.

Prof. Humayon Dar, founder of WOMANi, was the Chief
Guest on the occasion. A large number of successful and
influential women in Islamic finance participated from the UK,
Europe, Kazakhstan, Spain, the Middle East, South America,
Maldives, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Indonesia and China.
At this glittering event, WOMANi recipients were celebrated
and given recognition for their continued efforts to promote
the Islamic business and finance industry in this contemporary
world. Besides the Islamic finance sector, a number of women
were included from Islamic non-financial businesses, but primary
focus was on IBF and its different sub-sectors, i.e., banking,
asset management, academia, Shari’a advisory and other
ancillary services. The night also saw the launch of the inaugural
WOMANi Report 2019, featuring the top 300 most influential
women in Islamic business and finance. The report was published
by Cambridge IFA and supported by DDCAP Group, Noor Bank
and Abu Dhabi National Takaful.

In her welcoming remarks, Dr. Sofiza Azmi said, “In the past
decade, we have seen a growing band of women professionals
breaking down barriers and promoting increasingly important
roles in Islamic banking and finance. These exceptionally
talented and inspiring leaders have not only set the pace to
occupy leadership positions but have been playing a prominent
role in the overall development of the industry. As inspirational
role models they have become drivers of change that have
inspired a whole new generation of female talent.” She added
that “these powerful and influential women are leading change,
breaking barriers and creating new possibilities in the world of
Islamic business and finance.

Stella Cox CBE, Patron-in-Chief of WOMANi and Managing
Director of DDCAP; addressed more than 170 guests in
attendance at the awards ceremony and gala dinner. “Not only
does WOMANi elevates and raise awareness of the significance
of women working across the Islamic financial spectrum
globally, it also serves to connect us to each other,” said
Stella Cox in her Special Address. She further highlighted the
important role of WOMANi in reweighing gender balance in the
Islamic financial industry and the wider global financial market
place. In congratulating the women for their achievements and
prominent role in the overall development of the industry, she
urged that women must continue to be vocal and visible to
enable that rebalancing to continue and to further accelerate.
Stella Cox headed the WOMANi list in 2017 and 2018 as the
Most Influential Woman in Islamic Business and Finance. This
year she has voluntarily excluded herself from the list to accept
her new role as Patron-in-Chief of WOMANi. Her contributions
to the development of IBF world over are numerous, both
professionally and on the advocacy front. Having worked within
the Islamic financial marketplace for more than three decades,
she has played a pivotal role in Islamic liquidity management
and in championing IBF within the industry and beyond.

Prof. Humayon Dar presented the WOMANi300 certificates
to the top women in the WOMANi300 list, whilst WOMANi
trophies were presented to the top 50 iconic women in
Islamic business and finance. This year’s WOMANi award was
presented to Datuk Noripah Kamso, who was named as the
Most Influential Woman in Islamic Business and Finance 2019.
An international figure in the global Islamic finance industry,
Datuk Noripah has a solid and comprehensive 29 years’
experience across businesses in the investment banking and
asset management. She is currently serving as the Chairman of
Bank Rakyat, Malaysia and aims to establish it as Malaysia’s first
Sustainable Bank.

Prof. Dr. Normah Omar, Director of Accounting Research
Institute at UiTM, ranked No.2 on the WOMANi300; followed
by Professor Dr. Engku Rabiah Adawiah Ali at No.3, Dr. Hurriya
El Islamic at No. 4, and Professor Dr. Rusni Hassan at No.5.
The WOMANi Special Award 2019 was presented to Datin
Maznah Mahbob, Partner, Finance & Investments at Strategic
Swiss Partners AG, for her long-standing contributions to the
global Islamic finance industry. She is ranked at No.22 on the
WOMANi300 2019.

Although the Top 20 was dominated by leading Malaysian
women, several key women leaders in the UK, Middle East,
South America, Europe and Indonesia have rose to rank this
year. These include Maureen Badjoeri, CEO of Trustbank
Amanah at No.5; Sayyida Dr. Rawan Ahmed Al Said, CEO Takaful
Oman SOAG at No. 8; Dr. Dian Masyita, Associate Professor at
Padjadjaran University at No.9; Nida Khan, Doctoral Researcher
at University of Luxembourg, at No.12; and Umera Ali, Partner
& Head of Islamic Finance at DWF at No. 14.

Being the only woman from South America who has
joined the list of most influential women in Islamic business
and finance, Maureen Badjoeri is leading the transformation
of Trustbank Amanah, with a disruptive vision for the Islamic
banking through Fintech and a focus on financial inclusion. In the Middle East, a new generation of women leaders is making waves in Islamic finance. Sayyida Dr. Rawan Ahmed Al Said, who is the first and only female CEO in a public listed company in Oman, paved the way for the participation of women in
leadership roles.

Other notable women who made to the list of Top 50 Most
Influential Women in Islamic Business and Finance 2019 were
Professor Dr. Meryem Duygun, Professor of Banking and
Finance at Nottingham University Business School, at No.
21; Hajara Adeola, Managing Director of Lotus Capital, at No.
23; Zaineb Sefiani, Founder Carrera Learning, at No. 27; Dr.
Nerma Saracevic, Director of Regional Centre Zenica at Wiener
Asiguranje, at No. 32; Latifa Al Zaabi, General Manager of Siraj
Finance, at No. 47, Farah Arakji, Chief Financial Officer at Abu
Dhabi National Takaful, at No. 50; and Hind Al Attar, Head of
Human Resources at Noor Bank, at No.50.

From the African region, Hajara Adeola is a prime example of
women leadership in Islamic finance in the region. She has been
instrumental in the promotion of Islamic finance in Nigeria.
She has been an adviser and arranger for corporate, state
and sovereign sukuk issued in Nigeria. Under her leadership,
Lotus Capital issued the first private corporate sukuk in 2009,
the first sub-national sukuk in 2013 and advised the Federal
Government in their first and second sukuk in 2017 and 2018,
respectively. In 2012, Lotus Capital collaborated with the
Nigerian Stock Exchange to develop and establish an Islamic
Index – NSE Lotus Islamic Index.

The WOMANi Special Award 2019 was presented to Datin
Maznah Mahbob, Partner, Finance & Investments at Strategic
Swiss Partners AG, for her long-standing contributions to the
global Islamic finance industry. She is ranked at No.22 on the
WOMANi 300 2019 list. A well-known figure in Islamic asset
management, she earned fame during her tenure with AmBank Group where she was the CEO and CIO of AmInvest, fund management arm of the Group. She managed more than US$9
billion in investments, including Islamic funds and portfolios,
for which her team won a number of awards, including
the prestigious Global Islamic Finance Awards (GIFA). Her
investment and finance expertise spans more than 35 years.
After leaving AmInvest, Datin Maznah Mahbob is spearheading
the international Waqf Ilmiyah Project to be established in
Liechtenstein as a social finance instrument, pushing the
boundaries of waqf beyond physical and financial assets to
include intellectual assets.

During the event, the recipient of the DDACP-CIFLP Bursary
was announced by Cassim Docrat, Director of DDCAP (DIFC)
Limited. Angelia Chin-Sharpe, CEO and Country Head for
Malaysia and Brunei at BNP Paribas Asset Management, was
awarded this prestigious scholarship. She is ranked No.14 on
the WOMANi300. In his speech, Cassim Docrat explained that
the DDCAP-CIFLP Bursary is a partnership between DDCAP
and Cambridge IFA to support the attendance of one of this
year’s WOMANi list achievers at the 2019 Cambridge Islamic
Finance Leadership Programme.

Commenting on the WOMANi Programme, Professor
Humayon Dar stressed that Cambridge IFA’s WOMANi
Programme aims at empowering women at different levels
in different regions across a range of professions. “Each and
every woman featured in the WOMANi inaugural report is a
story of hard work, dedication, multi-taking, professionalism
perseverance, and success,” he said.

“Grooming the next generation of woman leaders with
relevant skill sets to meet these changes in the business
environment is vital for the future of Islamic banking and
finance. For this reason, we have developed other programmes
like Cambridge Islamic Finance Leadership Programme, which
aims to fast-track and groom the next generation of C-suite
executives and leaders,” added Professor Humayon Dar.

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