Denada Bare: An Investor’s Mentality, From the World of Music to Finance
From an MBA in business and management to three diplomas from the Austrian Institute of Economy Business, never would you have imagined that Denada Bare had a drastically different life before her journey in the finance and banking industry. Starting a career as a journalist before she entered the world of music pop, the businesswoman and entrepreneur left the creative scene to pursue her interest in banking and the ever-growing investment world. Today, Denada is a shareholder and a director at the financial institution HR Bank in London, and one of the major shareholders of the Pozitif Bank in Istanbul, a branch of a prominent Israeli bank in Tel Aviv.
How was your childhood, and how has it shaped who you are today?
I was born in the capital of Albania, Tirana, and was blessed with a happy childhood. I would spend endless hours playing with the other children, before rushing home to complete my homework and practise my violin or spends hours with my nose in a book.
I delved into some of the best works in the world of classical literature which shaped my character during my youth. This period of my life has created the identity and personality of who I am today. I had a disciplined and strict upbringing and that made me both feel and act older than most of the other children my age.
Each of one of us walks away with a unique story when we leave our childhood behind — the way our parents always argued, or that our sister was always supportive and the way our grandparents listened when we were upset on Christmas, or that our grandmother was the rock that kept us stable and school was so good or a place of “hell”. Our childhood becomes memories, and those memories become stories that reveal why we are who we are today.
The roots of our adult selves go right back to our first experiences. How we think, act and interact and even how our genes are expressed, can be influenced by our early years. Our childhoods influence and shape us, but so does our adulthood.
How did your career in the financial world begin? Did you always know that this was the career for you?
My professional career started as a journalist; I had just graduated from university – the Academy of Arts in Tirana – and worked as a program editor at the Albanian National Radio & Television. It was the only temple of television media at that time in Albania, and it has been a privilege for me to work and be among the most beloved and well-known names in Albanian journalism and arts. During that period, I also worked as an art and culture editor/journalist at one of the most reputable newspapers at that time – Koha Jone – and exactly at that point, I started my pop music career.
After a successful career there, both as a journalist and as an artist, I left Albania and moved to Germany, where I started a new beginning in my life. I started to live and work as a performing artist, going between Germany and Switzerland and then later, at a certain point of my life, I decided to start my MBA studies in business and management in Switzerland, and after that, I completed three courses in Vienna, and I got three diplomas from the Austrian Institute of Economy and Business in collaborations with Austrian Chamber of Commerce. During my studies, I got in contact with many people and entities of the business world and was fascinated by the dynamism and the energy of the business field.
Back in Albania, I had not been involved with the financial world and I never had imagined that one day I would be involved with the financial world. As I previously mentioned, over there I was involved in art, music, and journalism. Except for some small business activities, such as taking care of our family business, helping my father run our publishing house, Apollonia. During my time in Europe, I first came into contact with the finance world and banking, while I was studying for my MBA in Switzerland and had many experiences in some important business events and meetings. During this time, I also met a very honoured and important business lady, Maria Vengrinovych. She is an experienced banker, who’s helped me a lot in my finance career, and today she is also my best business partner, colleague and friend. After my MBA studies, I also worked for almost 4 years in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, in the finance branch, and I really had a great experience over there that made me stronger and better prepared for a career in financial business.
You have worked your way up the career ladder, but I’m sure the journey wasn’t easy. What does life at top of the finance ladder look like for a woman?
I would say that my journey in the business world has not been that easy, but yet full of beautiful challenges, adventures and lessons that made me grow and become the person I am today. In order to become a truly successful business leader, it is important to keep in mind that achieving success is not going to be easy but in the end, it will be worth it and give you the aureole of a ‘Boss Lady.’
Although we as a society have made great strides over the past five or six decades, women in the business world still run into roadblocks that men don’t have to deal with. Modern females are raised with the concept of “having it all”— family, career, and a flawless appearance —but the reality is that achieving this dream can be a hard milestone when gender-specific obstacles are put in the way of female entrepreneurs.
No matter who you are, male or female, there will always be obstacles to achieving success. It’s true that women are faced with specific gender-based hurdles, and that can be frustrating enough to want to quit, but none of these barriers is insurmountable. Empowering yourself to succeed doesn’t mean you have to follow the well-travelled path, it just means you have to stay true to yourself and your passion and stand till to the end for it.
Trusting in positive outcomes, it’s a feature that has followed me all my life. The famous phrase “The bird does not fear the branch breaking beneath her feet for she trusts her wings.” inspires me to dare greatly every day.
You are currently investing and participating in fintech and e-commerce. What sparked the idea to branch out to these sectors?
Technology is drastically changing, influencing every aspect including our everyday lives. Technology and AI will be the future topics of our human existence. Therefore, my interest in technology – which is an amazing amalgam of science and engineering – has been a focus for the last 3 years. In this regard, my partners and I, have decided to implement technology and digital services, in our financial business.
Technology is a brilliant tool that can lead to endless possibilities. For example, our vision for our bank is to be a modern financial institution, with all services catered to our modern times, including digital banking and crypto, creating a world where financial services seamlessly sync with life. By leveraging the power of technology, we bring banking into new contexts and remove the barriers for businesses that want to offer their own financial solutions. Our Banking-as-a-Service platform was built from scratch to enable financial services to move into new contexts that were unimaginable before. Launching a banking product has never been easier.
The financial services sector is experiencing rapid change in terms of technological disruption and market structure. There are some major trends impacting the sector and that is to be learned by firms and entities, new or old, who can capitalise on opportunities while also preparing for the future challenges they face. Fintech services are forecast to grow at a CAGR of between 25% to 30% by 2025, while blockchain, which is currently worth over $75 million, has an estimated growth rate of 50% over the next 5 years.
The development of AI and the advanced use of data analytics also promises to disrupt traditional services. In the financial services space, technology platforms could be used to increase the efficiency of capital matching between the users and providers of finance, decentralising asset ownership further. So, to keep up with this revolution, I must admit that the financial world must just go with this tremendous flow, embrace cultural shifts and deal with systemic change and implement this innovation in daily business activities.
The finance and banking world is a male-dominated industry. What changes can companies make to create equal opportunities for women?
In today’s dynamic business environment, achieving gender equality is considered to be an essential factor for the competitiveness and growth of any organisation. To create an inclusive and dynamic economy, it has to be ensured that everyone has got an equal opportunity to succeed. Gender inequality in the workplace has plagued the global economy for many decades; if it is not addressed by integrating women as an integral part of the workforce in general, it loses out on the skills, ideas, improved decision-making, and perspectives that are essential to address the global issues and to harness new scopes and opportunities. To promote gender equality I could mention at a glance, some ways through which employers can achieve it.
Prioritizing Work-life Balance
Women, in general, find it difficult to reach their career goals due to the lack of childcare support facilities in enterprises across the globe. So, in this regard, companies should come forward with childcare support and elderly care to help women and also to avoid high attrition rates amongst female employees. To relieve the stress of working mothers and to make them achieve their career goals, paternal leaves should be provided for fathers, as it not only allows mothers to concentrate on their career but as well, even fathers will get involved in the upbringing of the child. Work-life balance is considered to be a vital aspect of a healthy work environment, maintaining a proper work-life balance helps to minimize stress levels in the workplace. According to some studies in 2020, enterprises that allow for flexible work arrangements have a positive impact on the overall work-life balance.
Strict and Effective Policies against Harassment and Workplace Offence
It is of paramount importance to have a strict policy against workplace offences such as sexual harassment, racism, bullying, and more. Companies should ensure they provide strict punishment for such offences. At any workplace, on average one out of four women have been either physically or mentally harassed. Employers should act immediately in such cases to ensure the culprit has been punished, and take necessary measures to help the victim in any possible way. Employers should take precautionary measures at the workplace to avoid such misdemeanours in the future.
Creating an Open Minded Atmosphere
Gender equality can be achieved at the workplace, only when the employers, process owners, managers, and team leads have a broad and open-minded policy. If most of the departments within the enterprise are gender-biased, then it will surely affect the growth of the company in the long term.
Altering Hiring Practices to Increase Diversity
It is an established fact that companies with better gender diversity ratios outperform those with the least. As a matter of fact, most of the tech industry roles are usually filled by men, while support-oriented roles such as nursing are filled by women. But in both instances, the customers or patients are more diverse than the people who are attending them, where understanding their needs becomes difficult. Increasing gender diversity via altering hiring practices can be done through:
- Creating an inclusive gender-diverse workplace
- Promoting gender equality with better job descriptions
- Having a diverse interview panel
- Proactively sourcing gender diverse pipeline
- Having fair compensation practices
- Learning from exit interviews
Considering Leadership Roles for both Men and Women
It is a commonly mistaken belief that only men thrive in leadership roles and women are apt for support-oriented roles. These types of stereotypes form the basis for gender discrimination in the workplace. Individuals with the right attributes deserve a leader’s role. A great way to promote gender equality is by granting leadership roles for deserving candidates, irrespective of their gender.
The concept of equal pay is an important element to consider in an organization. Pay should be reliant on job roles, and a regular pay structure needs to be introduced to improve transparency and eliminate discriminatory pay rate issues. Even though both developed and developing countries have tried to address the gender inequality issue, yet the issue still persists in many SMB’s and as well as in global MNC’s. According to a survey conducted in Canada, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Netherlands, the majority of the employed adults (nearly 87 per cent) believed that both men and women should be paid equally. Then again, Americans (nearly 93 per cent) concur to the point that both genders should be paid equally.
You currently hold a senior position as the Director and shareholder of two banks. There is still a drastic difference in the percentage of women and men in senior positions. What advice would you give to women aiming to climb the career ladder in the banking and finance world?
In order to be helpful and to motivate other women in business, I would love to share some tips for success, from my own experience, which helped me grow in the male-dominated industry. To all young women who are aspiring to become successful in business, be inspired by what you do, because if you love what you’re doing, you’ll definitely do the best of your ability and will see success. Just because the price of admission to get into the game has decreased, though, doesn’t mean the journey will be a walk in the park —but it’s also not quantum physics. In fact, the difference between getting what you want and falling short is separated by a small gap – your mindset. If you’re looking to become the best version of yourself, you’ll need to implement certain mindset principles. I personally have applied them myself successfully.
Keep your word to yourself and be honest with yourself.
When you do what you say you’re going to do, you build self-respect and a positive identity. Successful people understand that every time you break the promises you make to yourself, you feed your identity as an impostor and weaken your self-confidence as a person of action.
Use envy to your advantage
Wanting something you don’t currently have is a behaviour rooted in your DNA. But just because it’s a normal feeling to have doesn’t mean you can’t control it or leverage it to your benefit. Successful people understand that beneath the layers of envy lies a core need they desire. Ask yourself why you feel envy. If it’s money, for example, what would that money represent for you? Most often, it’s time and freedom. Once you know the root cause, you can address ways to gain the things you want, like time and freedom, right now while building your dream.
Operate with an investor‘s mentality.
Just as the stock market will experience fluctuations, your personal journey will experience its peaks and valleys. Investors who stay long term with their investments despite this are often rewarded for their patience. This same logic applies to your personal development. Successful people understand that emotions and outcomes rise and fall along the way.
The key is to stay the course and view the journey as a marathon, not a sprint. Operate with an investor’s mentality and delay gratification today for something great tomorrow.
Be Your Own Advocate and Stand up for What You Believe In
Forbes has said, “self-advocacy is a learned skill,” and it is! Most women don’t wake up one day and magically say “today is the day I fight for me!” Championing for you or your business can be especially challenging in a world full of naysayers, but a strong, determined voice should be appreciated.
Patience is a Learned Discipline
You don’t start at the top; you have to work your way there. Approach each job and task you have as a learning opportunity and make sure you get the most out of it. Understand that things take time and take that time to learn and grow so when your time comes you are fully prepared to be successful. Warren Buffet became a multi-billionaire by buying and holding large company stocks for decades at a time. Patience is a learned discipline – the more we practice it, the more patient we become.
The road to success is inevitably paved with potholes, but it will lead you to great results if you stay focused on your destination. Take note of feedback and filter out the noise, and whatever you do – don’t give up! Altogether we can make this world a better place for women by encouraging them to “make things happen” on their own terms.