Durham Alumna at the Forefront of Fintech in Luxembourg

Emillie Allaert

Emillie Allaert is the Head of Operations and Projects at the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology, which is Luxembourg’s dedicated Fintech center. An alumna of Durham University Business School’s financial management  masters program, she speaks to TopMBA.com about her career journey since graduation, and why she is passionate about making a change in the world of finance.

Why did you decide to undertake your master’s at Durham?

I read that the university was well-ranked, and the city was small but welcoming and thought that would be a perfect environment for me. The bachelor’s I did was very academic, so I wanted to do something more practical.

I chose a financial management course which was a mix of management and finance. When I started, it was 2009 and just after the 2007-08 financial crisis, so I didn’t know if finance was still the right path to follow. I knew that by doing a program that was mixed I could have more options afterwards - if finance was too bad I could still go into management.

What did you enjoy most about the course at Durham?

I liked the organizational behavior module because I learnt a lot about how companies work behind the scenes, and how the ways you interact with your employees can have an impact on your business. I had a great time at Durham and loved the course. I’d never have achieved what I have without it and have gained a lot of skills I’m using every day.

What has been your career journey since graduating from Durham?

Directly after finishing my master’s I started working for KPMG in Luxembourg, first as a tax advisor, specializing in the regulatory field, and testing software linked to regulatory statements as well as new regulation on taxation. I found it very interesting to have this view on the technology side of the finance world.

I then had the opportunity to join JP Morgan and work in asset management, as part of the business change group for continental Europe. I was responsible for regulatory projects there as well, but more on the international side of the job. After some time, and some problems with the gender imbalance of the job, I decided I wanted to go back to consulting and see how I could help clients. I wanted to have a dynamic job where I’m always learning something and have some variety.

So, I joined Alpha Financial Markets Consulting (Alpha FMC). I worked for big clients, still on regulatory projects, but with much more technology involved in the process. I stayed there for more than two years and learnt quite a lot.

Then, the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT) was created end of 2016, bringing incredible opportunities. Luxembourg has always been a major player in the financial industry, but I know from previous experience that some of the processes and operations in this area are based on old-fashioned technology. I know there are existing solutions that can really bring value and quality to the client, and I thought that the LHoFT would be the perfect platform to encourage the financial industry to look to the future, to technology, and to change.

I’m now working here as the head of operations and projects. I’ve always been a tech enthusiast, and I’ve always liked finance, so this is the perfect mix for me. I think it’s great to be the one to propose change and open the eyes of the financial industry. It’s important for me to have an impact and I think I can have it with this job.

You mentioned facing issues with gender equality in the past - what do you think can be done to make the world of finance a fairer place for women?

People talk about quotas, but I’m not really in favor of them. I think they fail to recognize the competences and the knowledge of the woman, as it’s more likely you’re there because they needed you for the quotas.

I think that women should take risks. I’ve discussed this with several women who say it’s difficult for them to make that jump on occasions or to apply for jobs where they’re not 100 percent qualified, but I think it would definitely help if women started to realise that not everything is based on a resume. They should apply even if not fully qualified for the job and shine at interviews, personality and knowledge do not necessarily come across in resume but does in person.

Schools should also promote technology and IT skills, particularly for little girls. Parents should encourage them, buy them laptops and bring them to coding classes. Coding is just a language and is universal, it has no gender.

Why is it important for you to be in a role where you can make an impact and instigate change?

Money helps you to buy things you like, but to me, having an impact brings satisfaction that money could never buy. I’m trying to help the country I’ve been living in for 12 years, to ensure it has a good future. There are things in Fintech in Luxembourg that could bring new opportunities for everybody. We’re all alive just to make things change for the better.

Written by Julia Gilmore

Julia is a writer for TopMBA.com, publishing articles for business students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.

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