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DEI Emerging Leaders

The FFA and Diversity in Fund Finance would like to support and recognize individuals in the industry for their outstanding overall contributions to furthering diversity, equity, and inclusion (“DEI”) efforts in the fund finance market, their workplace, and/or the broader community. The FFA and Diversity in Fund Finance know and understand that there continues to be the need of collective work to help increase diversity and drive change within our industry. We believe the DEI Emerging Leaders Initiative will help recognize the hard work of individuals, bring more attention to these important efforts, and encourage broader participation. With that being said, we would like you to meet our 2024 Emerging Leaders!
DEI Emerging Leaders Award Recipient
Why is DEI important to me? I believe DEI within the workplace and society are essential pillars that should underpin every facet of our professional and personal lives. It is the diversity of thought, background, and experience that fuels innovation, fosters creativity, and drives excellence. I have seen firsthand the difference that a robust DEI agenda and inclusive environment can make to colleagues at Lloyds Banking Group, enabling them to bring their true and best selves to the workplace. More specifically with respect to disability, I believe the resilience and unique perspectives that disabled individuals bring to the table are invaluable, yet often overlooked due to systemic and societal barriers. It is also my experience that disability lags other DEI strands when it comes to representation and advocacy, which further solidifies my ambition to drive the disability agenda. What do you wish people would understand when it comes to DE&I work? I think the complexity and uniqueness of cultivating an effective DEI agenda is often underestimated. Organisations, communities, and individuals experience DEI in unique ways that need to be fully considered, and the intersectionality of DEI strands can add additional complexity to the already nuanced landscape. My work with PurpleSpace, a networking and professional development hub exclusively designed for employees with disabilities, has exemplified this where I have discussed experiences and disability best practice in the workplace with a variety of organisations at different stages of their DEI journeys. It is clear that gradual and sustained effort is required, from both a top-down and bottom-up perspective, to effect change and cultivate a truly diverse and inclusive environment.
DEI Emerging Leaders Award Recipient
Why is DE&I important to you? DE&I is important to me because it’s been the core catalyst of my professional development in finance. It’s also the profound inspiration for my commitment to ensuring diverse voices have a say in both little and big ways. Diverse employees champion diverse hiring, fostering an inclusive environment that in turn powers a more robust and resilient employee base. A lack of diversity and inclusion on a team can lead to groupthink driving corporate behavior, which has shown to increase turnover and contribute to a less enjoyable work environment, which I have experienced firsthand. What’s more, recent studies highlight the positive correlation between diversity in leadership and superior financial outcomes. This stresses the importance for investors and communities to not only empower people that don’t have the same advantages in life and bring experience to new generations, but also the different backgrounds can bring perspectives and insights a homogenous group cannot. Recognizing and expanding diversity in the workplace is not only a social and moral imperative, but it’s also a strategic approach that can cultivate holistic financial success. Finance as a whole is moving towards a deeper understanding of the importance of diversity and entities are taking actions to reflect and improve their own practices. Fortunately, I’m now not only in a position to drive change, but empowered to do so by my employer as we continue to elevate diverse employees and experiences in finance. What do you wish people would understand when it comes to DE&I work? DE&I work from all market participants is attempting to take a philosophy and make it concrete through policies, plans and KPIs. So much of DE&I work can be quantified and we can now prove that DE&I actions have positive, quantifiable impacts on employee turnover and financial outcomes amongst other benefits. What all these concrete manifestations of DE&I ideas can’t capture is the day-to-day impact DE&I initiatives can have on people in the current workplace. We cannot quantify the positive impact that feeling included in the workplace, seeing diverse employees in position of power, being given the opportunity to grow and thrive despite your background, can have on the future impact of individuals as they go out into the world and can speak truthfully about their experiences and inspire future generations to participate in this broadened world of advancement opportunities. DE&I work is not linear and in today’s political environment it is not always defended, making the work we are doing all the more important to ensure these benefits continue to be realized.
DEI Emerging Leaders Award Recipient
Why is DE&I important to you? I am someone who has navigated the challenges of being Indian in a predominately white industry from the very start of my career. I fully understand the importance of breaking away from conventional norms in finance. It's not merely about carving a niche for oneself; it's about dismantling the barriers that can deter future generations from pursuing their dreams due to racial stigmas. I want to see these barriers continue to be pushed throughout my tenure in the fund finance industry. Joining this industry was not just an opportunity but a tribute to the cultural background that shaped me. It's crucial to recognize and honor the mosaic of perspectives that diversity brings to the table—each unique lens contributing to the rich tapestry of innovation. In the fund finance community, diversity isn't just a nice to have; it's the catalyst for a more dynamic global ecosystem. By expanding the demographics, we not only welcome fresh ideas but also instigate positive change that ripples across the industry. In my opinion, embracing diversity isn't just a responsibility; it's an investment in a future where the finance community reflects the strength of its varied voices and experiences. What do you wish people would understand when it comes to DE&I work? I wish people understood that diversity fuels progress by dismantling the notion that backgrounds dictate capability. The key is fostering an environment where everyone acknowledges that diverse perspectives are assets, not obstacles. Collaborative work flourishes when built on a foundation of acceptance, enabling the seamless integration of varied experiences. Different backgrounds offer distinct viewpoints, turning our collective knowledge into an array of strengths. In the realm of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work, I want people to understand that diversity is more than a symbolic gesture—it's the foundation of innovation. As an emerging leader in fund finance, I advocate for an inclusive future where the richness of diverse voices propels our industry to new heights, ensuring every individual's contribution is recognized and valued. It's truly humbling to be nominated for an award that reflects a profound value I hold dear to my core.
DEI Emerging Leaders Award Recipient
Why is DE&I important to you? DE&I is important to me because it, and the people who advocate for it, make me feel a true sense of belonging. There is a palpable sense of inclusion at Gibson Dunn and it is such a breath of fresh air! I can say the same for New York’s Fund Finance community. I am seen as a whole person, which encourages me to continue performing at the highest levels and socializing with my peers. More generally, DE&I provides broader perspectives, generates fresh ideas and makes work a more positive place. I believe that DE&I is crucial to connecting with global clients as well as colleagues right down the hall. What do you wish people would understand when it comes to DE&I work? DE&I comes in many shapes, sizes, colors and vintages, as does the work! We live busy lives, but there are still ways to advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in small but impactful ways. For example, one could take an extra few minutes to provide tailored feedback to a diverse junior member of a team or follow up with someone about their cultural celebration last weekend. DE&I work can be fun and/or serious; it is what you make it.

2024 Recipients

Smith, Alastair (Lloyds Bank)
Alastair Smith
Associate Director
Page, Bailey (Churchill)
Bailey Page
Senior Associate
Sadhwani, Shashi (Axos Bank)
Shashi Sadhwani
Senior Associate
Sannah, Aja (Gibson Dunn)
Aja Sanneh
Senior Associate