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International women of risk - Maryam M. Zaman



Introduce yourself. Tell us your name, your practice and your country. What are you currently focused on?

My name is Maryam Zaman. I lead the Internal Audit, Risk and Compliance Services practice in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). My primary focus is in the Financial Services sector.

Tell us why you’re excited to be part of the International Women of Risk (IWOR) community. Why are you an ambassador?

Gender diversity is one of the priority initiatives of the UAE firm and being an ambassador of the IWOR will allow me to engage more like-minded risk professionals in the UAE firm to be a part of a global network.

We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?

In my last year of college at University of California, Berkeley in the US, I attended a career fair on campus and handed my resume to the KPMG representatives. That first interaction with the KPMG staff on campus made me quite eager to join their organization. They were friendly, informative and truly wanted to learn about my specific interests so they can assist in finding me a suitable position. In 2006, I had started working in the KPMG Financial Risk Management (FRM) practice in the Los Angeles office. Working in the FRM practice was a very enriching experience for me. I worked with a diverse group of colleagues, learned a great deal about structured finance products, credit risk management, and most importantly, made several life-long friends.

In late 2008, I decided to move to the Middle East (where I’m originally from) so I can be closer to my family and gain international experience. That’s when I transferred to the Dubai, UAE office in the IARCS practice. Over the past 10 years in Dubai, I have worked in a country with grand aspirations which has given me the opportunity to work on some of the most challenging and rewarding projects. Given my personal interest in the Financial Services sector, I was entrusted to lead and grow a Banking and Insurance team with specialized skill sets in financial risk management, regulatory compliance, corporate governance, and more. I’m proud of the team we have developed over the years.

What excites you about the future of the risk industry – your specific area of focus or the industry overall?

One of the most exciting areas of focus is around the topic of corporate governance for the Banking sector. Given that the financial sector plays a pivotal role in determining the allocation of capital, the long-term health and stability of financial institutions is of great importance to a growing and diversifying economy.

The sector has the ability to facilitate and support the visions embedded in the aforementioned agendas and the development goals set by policymakers. It is in this context that regulators have begun to institute sweeping corporate governance requirements in the banking sector in the UAE, with the aim of ensuring overall financial stability. Areas such as the quality and diversity of a bank’s Board of Directors and senior management compensation practices are key focus areas for the Banking sector in the UAE and we foresee significant opportunities to assist our clients on the aforementioned matters.

Is work-life balance a challenge for you? What is one tactic you use to make it all come together?

Work-life balance has been a challenge for me. Over the years, I have learned to know where to draw the line, how to prioritize, how to delegate effectively, and how to work more efficiently to ensure I spend adequate quality time with my family, friends, as well as my “alone” time. I’ve been blessed with a very understanding husband and parents who appreciate the time and effort commitments required in order to excel at KPMG. They have been a great support system throughout my career. The one tactic I use to ensure a balanced life is to plan effectively.

Every week, I plan in advance and re-assess all of my work commitments as well as any social commitments I have for the week. I communicate these commitments to my family and friends which allows us to better plan our quality time together. To make sure I dedicate sufficient time to my family, I’ve made a few personal rules for myself (e.g., Friday is family time only).

What advice would you give other women of risk coming up in the industry?

My advice would be to continue to invest in your knowledge, skills and certifications. The risk environment is rapidly changing, and in order to succeed in our careers and to be able to share value-added insights to our clients, we must be well-versed with all the regulatory, technological and socio-economic changes transpiring around us.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Mentoring and developing my team is the most fulfilling part of my job. It gives me such a pleasure to see how my mentees develop into successful and skilled professionals in their careers. Further, one of the other most rewarding parts of my job has been developing long term friendships with my KPMG colleagues.