As one of the world’s leading ﬁnancial institutions, Standard Chartered Bank fosters social and economic development for entrepreneurs around the world. Entrepreneurs’ growth stems from the bank’s existing ﬁnancial educations approach. It also builds on its Women in Technology Incubators, which provide women-led entrepreneurs with access to both ﬁnancial and human capital across Africa and the Middle East. One such Inspiring Entrepreneur supporter is Souad Benkredda. Her motivation is to make a positive impact, be successful in what she does, and help others grow based on merit by creating equal opportunities.
Various International Roles
Souad Benkredda started her career as a graduate in the Investment Banking division of Deutsche Bank in 2001. Two years later, she became the manager of a small team within the Foreign Exchange Sales & Trading division. In 2008 – seven years after joining as an analyst – she was promoted to Managing Director as the only analyst of her graduate class globally, which at the time made her one of the youngest ever Managing Directors appointed at Deutsche Bank.
After having spent almost 16 years at Deutsche Bank in various international roles based out of London, Frankfurt, and Dubai, Souad joined Standard Chartered in 2017 as the Head of Financial Markets UAE. She was afterwards promoted to the Head of Financial Markets MENA and the Head of Financial Markets MENAP Sales based out of Dubai. Souad is also a Board Member of Standard Chartered Saudi Arabia.
Encourage others to follow their dreams
Souad wants to inspire others to follow their dreams, ﬁnd something they feel passionate about and to be brave to stay authentic. She believes that this is ultimately what will make them successful and happy. Staying authentic and feeling free to express different views is important to create an environment where diversity of thought is not only appreciated, but actively encouraged. It is, in fact, this very “diversity of thought” which clients are looking for, and which is needed to deliver the best and most innovative solutions, according to Souad.
Coming from an Algerian blue-collar family, Souad was the ﬁrst member of her family to graduate from university and the ﬁrst woman to be allowed to study abroad and live by herself. At the age of 18, she decided to break her engagement to follow her dream to lead a more independent life and attend university. She is grateful to have been supported by both her father as well as her mother in changing the path her life was going to take by not getting married early as per the family tradition, but by choosing to study to lead a more independent life and be free to make decisions for herself.
From then onwards, Souad chose to stay focused on her studies and skills development, working very hard, whilst staying authentic and never forgetting where she came from. Helping others fulﬁll their true potential by removing potential barriers became key to Souad. She promised herself that she would use her role to make a positive impact. As she became more senior, she felt an increasing responsibility to help and inspire others with concrete actions to follow their dreams, just like she was lucky enough to have been able to follow her own.
Now in 2020, her impact is being acknowledged through different independent recognitions. For instance, the Financial News named Souad one of the most inﬂuential Businesswomen in the Middle East last year. Financial Times recognized her as one of the Top 50 champions of women in business globally, and Yahoo Finance awarded her as a role model in the Global Top 50 HERoes Women Role Model List. Furthermore, Souad has been selected to be part of the Bloomberg New Voices Programme and is a regular invitee to several conferences such as the Financial Times “Women at the Top Conference” in London. She uses these forums as an opportunity to further help increase her impact to create equal chances for everyone based on merit and to encourage others to follow their dreams.
Create Awareness, Diversity, and Inclusion
Technological progress has been rapidly evolving and messages can be transmitted quicker and more effectively by using means such as social media. With the help of her colleagues in the internal and external press department, Souad was able to use social media such as Linkedin, Twitter and Instagram increasingly over the past year to raise awareness of what has been done in the bank’s Diversity & Inclusion programme.
The Success of an Organisation
Since having started her career in investment banking, Souad has always been a minority, either ethnically or gender-wise, in whatever team or division she has worked in throughout her career. Rather than trying to imitate the behavior of the majority and assimilate, she tried to focus on her competence whilst working very hard in a collaborative way while staying true to her values. Bringing in a different perspective where it makes sense and making decisions based on what her inner compass tells her rather than based on what would be best for her own career has always been key for her. Diversity of thought is in her view key to ensure the success of an organization as it allows people to contribute different perspectives – a central prerequisite for any organization that strives to advance its mission. Souad’s objective is to further grow and help others not only by ensuring equal opportunities, but through leadership by example driven by an unwavering commitment to her values.
Souad Benkredda was honored to be in the Top 50 Financial Times HERoes Champions of Women in Business global list in 2018 and to be named in the Top 50 global HERoes Role Model Women Executives List 2019 by Yahoo Finance. Both recognitions celebrate women globally who are leading by example and driving change to increase gender diversity in the workplace through concrete actions both within and outside the organization, which have been evaluated by an independent committee. She has also played an integral part in helping create equal chances at an early stage for younger people through different initiatives such as visiting young schoolgirls as part of the Standard Chartered GOAL program or by implementing strategies. As a result, since Souad joined the bank in 2017, the share of female UAE Financial Markets graduates rose to 80%.
Furthermore, Souad is an ofﬁcial and unofﬁcial mentor to many male and female colleagues as well as some clients. She shares her thoughts and experiences on Diversity & Inclusion at various panels and committees, both within and outside the bank.