As a part of Impactpool's March 2021 gender parity awareness campaign, we aim to share short employee spotlights from international professional women working at some of the most important international organizations in the world.
Meet Shonell Robinson, a Financial Management Specialist at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)
Name – Shonell Robinson Jarrett
Job Title - Financial Management Specialist
Nationality - Jamaican
Please could you tell us a little about yourself and your professional background?
I was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. I completed a B.Sc. degree in Management Studies with a major in Accounting, at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus. After graduation, I started off my Accounting career as an Auditor at Deloitte, Jamaica, and commenced my ACCA accreditation. I really enjoyed auditing as it allowed me to gain experience from a diversified client base. In addition, this field also allowed room for innovative thinking and the development of my problem-solving skills. After Deloitte, I moved on to Ernst and Young (EY), Jamaica, and thereafter, Scotia Investments Jamaica.
During my time at Scotia Investments as a Senior Accounting Officer, I started missing the diversity that auditing brought, and so this yearning kicked off my voyage into the Development field. While at Scotia Investments, two friends sent me a World Bank, Financial Management (FM) Consultant post for the Office in Kingston, noting that I should apply for the position. However, I must admit that I had some doubts being that I’ve never thought of working in development. The short story is that I applied, got the job, and eventually progressed to being an FM Specialist. Being based in the Jamaica Country Office, I was supporting not only Jamaica but 11 other countries in the Caribbean region. So, the urge for a combination of diversity and innovation was quickly refilled. In addition, it also brought this balance, by the fact that I was directly building capacity through trainings that I delivered. Secondly and most importantly, I saw how I was contributing to changing the quality of peoples’ life. For me, this was on a totally different level, which gave me a sense of belonging in the field of development.
After approximately four years, a colleague brought to my attention a Financial Management Specialist post at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and as they often say, the rest is history. Within a few months, I was making my way to AIIB in Beijing, China.
When and why did you choose to work for the AIIB?
March 2021 will be approximately two years ago when I made the decision to apply to the AIIB. I applied because at that point in my career I wanted to explore a different region of the World and diversify my skillsets. Also, having done my research, I discovered that the AIIB was only in its fourth year of operation. This made me thought of how much I could also significantly contribute to establishing its financial management function for its project operations.
What do you believe is/are the most important skill(s) needed for a career in international development?
I believe that in international development, technical skills are a must whether it be Engineering, Financing, I.T etc. However, also equally important are soft skills, such as adaptability, flexibility, patience, and acknowledging /understanding cross-cultural sensitivity. I believe these are important because, in every country that we work, the context, the people and their capacity vary. Therefore, in order to develop solutions that will positively affect change and be fit-for-purpose, these soft skills are also needed.
Is there anything about working in this field that you did not expect when starting?
With an initial background in auditing where I mainly worked with private sector clients and a few State Own Entities (SOEs), It would perhaps be the significant variation in capacity and needs from one developing country to the next. In addition, is that self-fulfilment that you get from positively impacting peoples’ lives.
What according to you is the most effective way to address gender parity in the workplace?
I would say, perhaps for organizations to be intentional and have a long-term talent acquisition plan with gender parity included. In my opinion, today females are no longer restricting themselves to jobs that were once or still labelled “male-dominated”, and likewise, males are not restricting themselves to “female-dominated” labelled jobs. Therefore, if organizations really want to achieve gender parity, they need to be deliberate about it. Also, they need to be ready to invest in enhancing staff skillset and development, regardless of gender.
What is your piece of advice for women aiming for the top?
I’m still aiming for the top also, however, my advice would be to stay humble, be confident, diligent, and importantly, be willing to step outside of your comfort zone.
What decision accelerated your career the most?
The decision to take a leap of faith and starting my career in development, which I initially doubted, because at the time it seemed outside of my comfort zone.
Do you have a personal habit or trait that has been critical for your success?
Yes, keeping myself accountable. To further elaborate, firstly, keeping myself accountable to my commitments and giving my best to whatever task taken on. Secondly, being humble, and being deliberate about actively seeking career advice from mentors and seniors.
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
I must say I’ve been privileged to receive quite a few good pieces of advice. However, I would say the best piece of advice received, was after graduating from UWI, and struggling to decide amongst the job offers I received. This advice was, to focus on attaining as much knowledge and experience rather than immediate financial gains. This resonates with me, as in applying it, I have seen how it has propelled my career.
We know that many of our followers would like to hear some advice on how to get a job with AIIB, Do you have any good tips to share?
Be ready to demonstrate your experience, skillsets and potential. In addition, take the initiative to reach out to AIIB’s staff in your field of interest. After all, networking and seeking advice is just as important. You may learn more about AIIB, from our website www.AIIB.org, or you may follow us on social media platforms such as LinkedIn (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) and Twitter (@AIIB_Official), to get updates on job opportunities and AIIB’s latest happenings.
This article is produced as a part of Impactpool's Gender Parity month-long campaign in March 2021, supported by AIIB. Curated to shed light on gender parity in the International Public Sector and empower women with career resources, job opportunities, and employee spotlights and a unique virtual career fair. Register now #genderparity