Amnah Ajmal

Amnah Ajmal

EVP Market Development, EEMEA at Mastercard

Amnah Ajmal, EVP Market Development for EEMEA at Mastercard, details her financial services journey and urges young women to never give up on their dreams

Amnah Ajmal reveals her early career trajectory was not one without challenges. 

Now Mastercard’s EVP of Market Development for the EEMEA region, she had initially aimed to establish a presence in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) space but repeatedly encountered rejection. 

Eventually, Ajmal decided to pivot to the financial services industry. She joined Citibank in 2004, achieved her Master’s in Finance at the London School of Economics and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Ajmal soon made a name for herself at Citi in the International Management Associate Programme, a role which saw her live and work across Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. She subsequently looked after the organisation’s largest consumer asset business in Europe which, at that point, was in Poland. 

“Citi was a great training ground,” says Ajmal. “It’s a great institution to learn from and they made me the leader I am today.”

Having left Citi for Standard Chartered, Ajmal took on something of a dream job when she was asked to run the company’s consumer bank in Malaysia. 

However, tasked with carrying out a major restructure of the business, she found herself at a crossroads. 

“This was my second time doing a restructuring, so my second time making layoffs,” Ajmal continues. “There was a moment when I thought, ‘this is not what I want to be known for. Risking your success is part of leadership. 

“I wanted to be in a role where I had more creativity, where I'm contributing to the growth of the business or building new businesses.”

So, despite being Standard Chartered’s youngest-ever head of a consumer bank, Ajmal bravely took a leap of faith by joining Mastercard in 2015 – and never looked back. 

Making an impact 

Ajmal’s responsibility these days is to oversee market development across 80 countries in the EEMEA region, meaning she looks after merchants, digital partnerships, fintechs, governments, strategy and M&A.

Her enthusiasm is palpable when discussing her “amazing, talented” colleagues, 75% of whom are Gen Z and Millennials, while she is delighted to work alongside a healthy representation of women at senior level. 

Ajmal is also delighted to be part of a team that can have such a profound impact on the next generation of female business leaders.

“We have so many initiatives we’re running for female-led SMEs or female entrepreneurs,” she adds. “Seeing the impact we can make has to be the best thing about my job.”

On this subject, many of the clients Ajmal deals with remain male-dominated, but she has noticed a significant proportion making concerted efforts to be more inclusive. 

“It’s great to see,” Ajmal goes on, “and I hope we’ll be able to work together with these industries to have better representation from a gender and diversity standpoint.”

Blazing a trail

As the first woman in her family to ever have a job, let alone obtain a Master’s degree or carve out a successful career in financial services, Ajmal takes immense pride in her numerous achievements. 

She also takes comfort in the knowledge that her own daughter will benefit from a large pool of opportunities and urges the next generation of budding female professionals to never give up on their dreams. 

“For me, my dream of being known for my own intellect, for having a career and financial independence, travelling and living around the world, did come true,” Ajmal concludes.

“That's what I would say to a lot of women: believe in your dreams and believe in yourself. Perseverance is the key that can open any door – it definitely opened it for me.”

Read the full story HERE.

Kongres Biznes Polska Świat
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