Women of Jordan – Part Three
Nour Jarrar was sure that one day she would head a bank. She realized this dream at the beginning of 2018 when she was appointed CEO of CitiBank N.A. after spending more than 14 years working in the sector. Her previous roles include head of the wholesale team at Bank ABC.
Today, Jarrar is one of a many women in leadership roles in the Kingdom’s banking sector, inspiring other females wishing to succeed in this field.
What have you had to sacrifice to reach where you are today?
I think mainly doing extracurricular activities, but I don’t regret it. I am the kind of person who would work from 8:00 am till 8:00 pm and that is what I believe got me to where I am today. Yet in general, I believe that being a professional woman does not come at the expense of sacrificing other things in life. When there is a will there is a way.
How long have you been working for CitiBank?
I began working at Citi on January 21, 2018 so I am very new to the institution but not the banking sector. I was heading wholesale banking at Bank ABC where I spent more than 11 years before coming here. I also worked at the Housing Bank and the Royal Hashemite Court.
What was the turning point in your career?
I would say that having a plan played a role in my career path rather than a turning point. Ever since I was at university I knew what I wanted. It was my twenty-first birthday when I went to continue my studies and do my masters. I was very vocal about what I wanted to achieve so all my friends gave me gifts for my future career. To prove this further, I was featured in a book 10 years ago and I had talked about my plan and career path. Recently, the lady who interviewed me contacted me again saying: “You made it!”
Do you believe that female mentorship is important and are you now or have you been one?
I am a strong advocate of mentoring which can be in direct or indirect forms. The direct form can help grow the careers of up and coming professional ladies. As for the indirect mentorship, the impact is not always seen but I consider it a huge factor that plays a role in encouraging and motivating women and this is by being a role model to others and showing them that they can advance in their careers and succeed.
What’s the percentage of females compared to males in Citi?
The culture at Citi believes in women, promoting them, and offering them opportunities where available. This is evident in the case of our office here where our management team is mostly women who make up 34 percent compared to males.
At Citi, we have different networks that serve our employees’ needs. One of these networks is the Citi Women Network. It was launched in 2006 and reflects a corporate strategy focusing on the advancement of women as leaders and economic drivers.
When do you see a real change happening in Jordan’s banking sector in terms of the number of female workers?
When you find more women in leading positions where they can take strategic decisions. That would include middle, senior management and boards of directors. Statistics have shown that boards with higher female representation enjoy better corporate governance and strategic direction. Breaking through the glass ceiling by having a higher percentage of females will definitely have a positive impact on Jordan’s banking sector.
Throughout your career have you had to deal with bias in the workplace? And if it happens, how do you deal with it?
Not really. When it comes to Citi, I do not believe any woman has to deal with bias as the culture itself promotes women and their progress. I could see this from the first day I joined. In my previous positions, I also did not have to deal with bias at all. I think it comes down to how strong a person presents themselves and their experience, which shifts the attention away from that person’s gender and focus on what they have to bring to the table.
What policies do you think should be put in place to advance women’s careers?
A support system is a definite must. Having a good support system will play a big role in helping women advance in their careers whilst at the same time achieve a work/life balance. Also, certain social security practices need to be improved to encourage women to participate and become active members in their work place.
What are your plans for Citi?
Citi is one of the largest financial institutions in the world and has had a presence in Jordan since the 70s. I believe I have a responsibility to continue leading Citi’s business in the country here and positioning ourselves ahead of the game.
Do you think the banking sector has done better than other sectors in Jordan in terms of female participation?
By far. Around 35 percent of bankers in Jordan are females. That is a high percentage if you compare it to other statistics in the market. Why? I think it is the working hours and higher profile of banks that encourage females to join this sector. I remember when I joined the sector there was only one female general manager in the entire banking sector and she was here at Citi. Later on when the corporate governance laws started developing in the country, we started seeing and hearing of females and feel their impact in the sector.
women of Jordan – Part three
For previous parts of the women of Jordan feature:
women of Jordan – Part Two: click here
women of Jordan – Part One: click here