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Women in Finance: Adela Baho

Adela Baho joined Foresight as a Director and Conducting Officer. She has been a driving figure in the establishment of Foresight’s Luxembourg presence. Recently, she has been recognised for her contributions to finance and was featured as one of Paperjam’s ‘100 Women Who Lead’, an empowering list of women who are forging the future of business in Luxembourg.

Having recently celebrated International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating women and their achievements, we are shining a spotlight on some of the women that we work with who are building a smarter future. We spoke with Adela, to gain an insight into her role at Foresight and her journey working in finance.

Can you tell us a little more about your role at Foresight, and what you’re responsible for?

I’m co-heading Foresight’s new Luxembourg office and I co-led the process of acquiring Foresight’s Alternative Investment Fund Manager (AIFM) licence in Luxembourg. We applied for this operating licence last year and are now Foresights’ AIFM for its European funds. My responsibilities primarily cover the risk management and the valuation, but we’re a very small team in Luxembourg so my day-to-day tasks can encompass quite a lot more.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in financial markets?

Finance always interested me, and I enjoyed maths. I studied in Switzerland, a leading global financial centre and the perfect city to immerse myself in the world of finance; there are few better cities to learn the fundamentals of the open market economy, finance and banking. But my initial interest in finance came from my grandfather. He was vice-president of Central Bank of Albania and he gave me the first lessons in finance. Although at that time it was still a centralised economy!

What’s a typical day involve?

In Luxembourg we still have the luxury to go to the office. Once in the office, there are meetings (video, of course), follow-ups on projects, fund management, administration tasks and office setup. We are still a very young office and company (as an AIFM is a legal entity) which means a large focus is establishing Foresight Group Luxembourg’s operations.  There are still processes to either setup, from the regulatory perspective, or to integrate with what is currently being done in London, Rome and Madrid.

Can you share a little about your career journey and any challenges?

I started out my career as financial analyst, from here I progressed to Investment Manager and then to Head of Risk Management. During this time and these different roles, I saw very few women in the conference rooms and, often, I’ve been the only female representative in an investment committee or board meeting. Throughout my career I’ve made tough calls about when to say no and stand my ground, but any challenges I’ve faced is because I’ve chosen to go for something. It’s a highly competitive industry, women need to be firm in what they want to do and claim it.

What do you think it takes to be a Woman Who Leads in finance?

For sure I can say it takes years of experience, commitment, energy and family support. This is all in parallel with participation in various associations that have an impact on the financial sector in Luxembourg, but also internationally. I’m a member of the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) and the Luxembourg Chapter Director. I’ve been in the Board of Directors of Luxembourg CFA Society for 7 years and am currently Co-chairing the Sustainability Working Group of ALFI. Because I spent some time in Academia myself, I still try to share my knowledge and experience with Master Students. I’ve been supporting students for the last 8 years, and currently do so with a professional master in wealth management at the well-known business school ESCP Paris. So, I’d say it is a combination of various experiences and exchanges with different groups of people from whom you can learn and progress.

What is yours vision for Foresight’s growth in continental Europe?

Foresight’s Luxembourg AIFM will enable Foresight to strengthen its footprint in renewable infrastructure in wider continental Europe. We expect to be an active participant in the European “Green Deal” and become a leader in long-term investing into the resilient infrastructure required to enable the transition to a sustainable society. As our Head of Continental Europe, Federico Giannandrea, said, it’s an important strategic milestone for the company.

Finally, is there any advice or encouragement you would give young women looking to embark on a career in finance?

Today, for young woman wanting to pursue a career in finance there’s an encouraging and exciting breadth of opportunities. When I studied Financial Economics and Econometrics, arguably a very formula-oriented field, we were more women than men. I found that many of my female classmates didn’t choose to work in the financial sector like I did, rather they pursued careers in Academia, International Organisations (such as the UN, WTO or WEF) or Central Banks.

So, it’s not only the “private” financial sector where you can make career in finance. Young women today are empowered; to them I’d say be open to different career paths and consider all of the great opportunities that are available to them.

You can read the 100 Women Who Lead article in Paperjam here. We are delighted to see Adela recognized on this list as one of the 19 ‘Women of Finance’, and it marks an exciting trajectory for both Adela and Foresight, with Luxembourg fast emerging as a focal point for Fund Management services in Europe.

To learn more about Adela’s work driving Foresight’s operations in continental Europe you can visit her team page here