Aleya Nessa: busting banking myths

Saffron Wildbore

~ 4min read

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~ 4min read

Aleya graduated from the University of Leicester in 2021 with a degree in Law. She worked pro-bono whilst in University and got a feel of what it would be like to be a lawyer. However, she decided that it wasn’t right for her and took the plunge into the world of banking.


This International Women’s Day, we spoke to Aleya about her journey and the advice she has for others looking to follow in her footsteps.

> Thriving in her career

Before starting her career, Aleya had misconceptions of what the banking world is really like. “I thought working in banking was going to be tougher than it actually is. I had this preconceived notion that it was very strict, long hours and no work-life balance. Very much a male-dominated environment. But, actually, it’s completely the opposite. It’s very balanced. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a supportive team.

Now working in project management, Aleya is thriving in her career. “Everytime there’s a change to be implemented, whether it’s regulatory or something the bank wants to improve, there has to be people that manage and oversee that change. It’s a lot of testing changes and my role oversees everything and makes sure it’s all running as smoothly as possible. I also do all the financial reporting each month, pulling and submitting data. 

I’m transforming the way that financial crime is managed. I’m protecting families, protecting customers, and real life people from financial crime, which is on the rise.”


> Growing up with other supportive women

Aleya has always had a strong network of women supporting her throughout her life. “I grew up with quite a close knit family and was very close to my mum’s side of the family. My mum had me at about 20, so I was actually living with grandparents so I felt like I was very much raised by my grandparents and my mum’s sisters too. 

Growing up, my family were very good role models. They all went to university and are in really good jobs. They helped me and they’ve always been very inspirational figures in my personal life. My mum was actually the breadwinner, so I’ve always had this idea that I don’t have to rely on someone else. My mum was always pushing me to pursue whatever I wanted and enjoyed. I don’t think I’d have gone for so many opportunities if it weren’t for the strong women in my family.

There are also people in the media that I’m in awe of, like Malala, the activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 when she was just 17. She’s such an advocate for women and education.

There’s also a good balance of men and women in my team. It’s really inspirational to see women can get to the higher positions, not just men.”

> Focusing on her long-term goals

When looking to the future, Aleya stated “I’d definitely like to move up the ranks here within the bank. One way for me to do that and another goal is to get more qualifications which will help me stand out.

I’ve already seen a lot of career progression and I’ve learned a lot. There’s a lot more opportunities in banking than I realized before starting my career which is great.” 

> Striving for diversity within the workplace

When asked how she feels about the importance of diversity, Aleya said “I think it’s really important. I think there are things that women can bring that men can’t and vice versa. It’s also nice for me coming in as a graduate and starting my career journey to see strong female role models in higher positions. 

I think it’s important to have that diversity, not just in banking but across all sectors. We want to be influencing the next generation in the right way and having diverse teams proves that we shouldn’t really stick to gender stereotypes.

It just shows that anyone can do it. You don’t have to be a straight white male, or come from a rich background to be CEO, like Alison Rose. She’s shown me that I can do anything if I work hard enough.”

> Advice for other women who want to follow in her footsteps

“I know there are preconceptions of the banking world, but I’d say to go into the situation thinking that you’re going to contribute to changing those preconceptions. I think banks are very much aware that there’s a gender imbalance. So they’re trying to do everything in their power to even the scales. If anything, I think it makes the world more attractive, knowing you’re contributing to change.

You’re inspiring the next generation. I like to think that because I have younger sisters, one of them being 10. I want them to be inspired.

We should embrace equity and really make the most of the opportunities that are being offered to us. We can’t achieve equity if people are too scared to take what’s out there.”

Saffron Wildbore is a Senior Marketing Executive at mthree. She has worked in marketing, specialising in creating content for over 4 years. Saffron focuses on writing tips for graduates, Alumni interviews and more!


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