The biggest challenge facing Pakistan’s best asset manager has nothing to do with money.
In a feature published Thursday, 39-year-old Maheen Rahman told Bloomberg that she still struggles with gender equality and perception in her work. Although her equity fund outperformed better all others in the country, she said people routinely ask her why she doesn’t “just design clothes.”
With 14 years of financial experience, Rahman is the CEO of Alfalah GHP Investment Management. She previously ran the IGI Stock Fund, which Alfalah bought in 2013. Since the fund launched seven years ago, it’s gained total returns of 443 per cent.
But her outstanding performance doesn’t mean she’s treated equally among her male colleagues and rival CEOs.
In the article, Rahman said she deliberately limits smiling and keeps proper distance between herself and others at work. She also said she makes sure to put her handbag in the exact right place when she sits down. A mother of three, Rahman also faces the challenge of juggling work and parenting.
“You can never appear frivolous because you just won’t be taken seriously,” she said.
In Pakistan, only 25 per cent of women are in the workforce, Bloomberg reported. At Rahman’s own firm, six women account for one-eighth of the employees, herself included.
Rahman oversees $US180 million in stocks and bonds for Alfalah, and is planning a broad expansion of the firm. She said she expects to increase client assets by 40 per cent this year.
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