By Asta Diabaté
I met Fraz at an insight event for women at a consulting firm. When the event had concluded, keen to mingle, a group of us decided to congregate at a café nearby, to reflect on the event and learn about our respective journeys. Fraz was among them.
Fraz stood out and had a brilliantly warm smile. At the time she was a finalist studying Natural Sciences at UCL. She told us that she was more interested in banking than consulting and that she had several interviews with investment banks for graduate roles in Sales & Trading. She went on to secure a role at Lloyd’s Bank.
Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Fraz better, but curious to discover more about her story I asked her whether she’d be interested in being interviewed about her future life in the City: her new beginning.
Asta: How would you describe yourself?
I like to think of myself as unique; as a half Thai/Arab, 5ft 11in (181cm) female, who studied Natural Sciences at UCL, about to head into a career in Banking. I would also say I’m curious, a little eccentric as well as a confident, driven risk-taker who enjoys pushing boundaries and connecting people both to myself, and to each other. I seek out those I can learn from, with a special respect for my elders (probably a Thai influence).
I tend to live life at the extremes/ one end of the spectrum or the other – as in I’m either frantically juggling multiple tasks, having probably taken on too many, or I’ve stopped dead in my tracks, shutting myself off from the world in order to recharge.
Asta: What is your story?
A huge part of who I am comes from my mother’s Thai side. My large family grew up poor, as rice farmers in “outback” Thailand. Though hard-workers, my grandparents’ generation struggled to provide necessities such as school lunches and shoes for my mum and her siblings. I have a deep respect for the conversations I am able to have with my mum as she reminisces about her own journey and struggles. This plays a huge part in my own drive and motivation. We laugh about how, if it were not for my mother’s courage in bringing me to the UK (alone!), I could well still be playing with chickens in outback Thailand – but it’s true!
The other important part, where I have found resilience, is through my own struggles here in the UK.
Due to disputes with my stepfather in year 9, my mother and I were forced to live in a homeless facility, for over three months, by the social services. Not only was our primary source of income no longer available, a strict curfew was set by the facility.
As a result, my academia and extracurricular activities suffered. During this time I was starting my GCSEs, whilst being amongst people who questioned my ability to become successful. Finding motivation was difficult. Fortunately, we found a new home. During the discouragement and hardship, I fought hard to find motivation; taking my frustration and negative energy and turning them into my work. This is a work ethic I’ve kept with me all my life.
I joined the Student Council, excelled through my GCSEs to A-Level whilst working in a retail store for two years, gained a full scholarship to study at UCL and aimed ambitiously for a prosperous career. Though not strictly religious, through struggles I now always think “if God got you through that, what makes you think they can’t get you through this?”
This has given me resilience in academia, independence when it comes to personal relationships and solidified career progression as a goal of mine.
Overall, this has led me to believe you make your own luck. What you put in is what you get out. I have had countless rejections so far, but that is because if an opportunity presents itself, I can’t help but try.
Asta: How do you feel about the end of uni and the beginning of your work life?
Excitement, but a little apprehensive.
Apprehensive due to the economic climate. Having lived through a recession and with Brexit looming.. I feel “generation rent” have had to fight a little harder.
Excitement as, finally, I can give back to my mum. The thing that drives me to work so hard, I can finally do. I’ll finally gain independence and proven those who doubted me, wrong.
With responsibility, comes opportunity.
Asta: Why did you choose Banking as your career choice?
I chose Banking as a career choice through discovering my strengths and weaknesses, thinking about my aspirations and therefore which skillset(s) I needed to develop, as well as the people I needed around me, in order to achieve them.
With an inquisitive mind, I’m constantly asking “how” and “why”, which laid a foundation for my interest in Science. Once we know the ‘cogs’ that make up a system, we can then apply our knowledge and understanding to find innovative approaches so we can live in a better tomorrow. This is something I have a passion for: leading and empowering a team so a difference can be made. I see this as the key to finding cutting-edge answers to complications. Though we must first know which questions to ask.
Hoping to one day run my own business, I have found a mix of a demanding environment, coupled with technical knowledge and my relationship-building skills makes powerful use of my intellectual ability, of which I believe my chosen career will provide, complimenting my scientific knowledge.
Asta: What comes to mind when you think about “beginnings”?
A clean palette. I see it as the glass being filled once again, just as the sun rises once again every day. As another change to get things right, to learn from your mistakes, get back up again and slay another day.