Meet CFTE alumni, Celine Bourban, on her journey into Fintech

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CFTE is travelling all around the world to meet with their alumni to talk about how learning about Fintech changes careers. We would like to share some amazing stories of professionals about their transformation journey into Digital Finance. 

Meet Celine Bourban, CFTE alumni. Celine works for DBS Singapore, one of the most transformative banks worldwide. She has over 10 years of experience in the financial industry but felt that her job lacks an innovative approach needed in a world where finance is constantly disrupted by new technologies. She decided to upskill herself and, throughout the year, she completed three of the CFTE courses including Fintech Foundation, AI in Finance and Extrapreneurship programme. Here, she shares her insights on how the new knowledge guided her digital transformation journey and allowed her to realise the immense opportunities in Fintech.

What is your background?
I have an investment and capital markets background and I currently work at DBS Treasures as a relationship manager on their Wealth Management platform. We assist individual investors in achieving their financial goals through our offering of holistic and multi-asset portfolio solutions. I work for the expat community based mostly offshore and in Singapore.

What was the turning point that inspired you to change your job functions?
Change is too much of a radical word I feel. Rather than change, I would say I’ve always strived at refining and enhancing my skills which led me to engage in different pieces of training. As we use to say in Investment advisory: you can’t avoid death, nor can you avoid taxes. I would add that today, you can’t even avoid technology. While Artificial Intelligence is absolutely not new, its impact on the Financial Industry started to receive a lot of attention about 5 years ago bringing together a bit of everything to the headlines. More than a threat, I saw this as an immense opportunity and undertook a specific training with CFTE. I work for one of the most advanced banks in digitalisation where the mindset is already indirectly nurtured. While there are still many aspects we need to improve and work on, digitalisation is at the heart of our day to day business and job functions will evolve accordingly. However, I do recommend to “take the reins” of your own training – one cannot shy away from technological disruption but rather learn to ride the tide.

What did you learn the most during your job transition?
The learning process with CFTE has been progressive, with a more challenging project I decided to undertake last year: the Extrapreneurship Programme. Beyond technical aspects, I actually learned to feel comfortable with the unknown or better say the unexpected. There are indeed many AI Financial applications already up and running but no one can know for sure what the industry will look like 20 years from now. Rather than struggling with it, I’ve learned to embrace the uncertainty and accept imperfection. As per the specific Extrapreneurship programme, I further developed my time and team management skills: how to motivate the team, craft a project with many different backgrounds and keep everyone on board while you are running after the clock. I can share that the programme is challenging but extremely rewarding should you have enough mental resilience to stay onboard for the full 8 weeks.

Beyond the popular media image of Fintech, what was the most surprising aspect for you?
The passion and a strong sense of community – Fintech by itself brings together professionals willing to improve the business and customer’s journey. But there are still some barriers to the development of the sector’s growth (regulation, capital requirements, technology trials and errors). Regardless of the job titles of participants (entrepreneurs or professionals), there is a strong sense of “mutual aid” supported by the passion that drives everybody.

What is the advice you would give to someone who wants to transform his / her job in finance?
First thing first, we have to acknowledge that whatever the industry, a job is a not a long term contract in itself but the reflection of your skills and economic environment. Everything changes and you are the only one responsible for the path you want to take. Second advice, intended to mostly young women, would be to have the courage to follow your dreams and do not sacrifice them for the benefit of others. Stand up and take initiatives. Last but not least, keep educating yourself all along with your career and nurture your professional community.

Is it more difficult to train yourself and change your job in the finance industry as it requires technical skills?
Training yourself for a field you get a true interest in, is never an issue. Technical skills are obviously a requirement for some positions but there are many others where soft skills are more valuable. While we currently see an increased demand for technical skills in many job postings, I would rather recommend having a clear understanding of your objectives and inner skills. Should you want to become a programmer, yes you’d better have sharp technical skills. Should you rather intend to develop a career requiring project management, leadership and communication: you’ll need to have a good knowledge of technical applications of course but it won’t represent your inner core strengths.

Centre for Finance Technology and Entrepreneurship (CFTE) is an education platform supported by senior leaders from the largest institutions, startups and universities. CFTE’s signature courses – Foundation of Fintech and AI in Finance allow professionals to acquire the right knowledge, skills, and mindset to enter the global Fintech ecosystem and help to transform their careers from traditional to digital. Follow CFTE on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to receive regular updates.

This piece is part of the Alumni Stories series that is originally published in Finance Mag. Read this interview in French here.

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