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Barkha’s Story: Returning to Finance at Fitch

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Barkha Shah, Senior Analyst, Fitch Ratings (9 year break)

I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in Mumbai, India and worked for over 5 years in corporate credit ratings and analysis with Crisil Ltd, a subsidiary of Standard & Poor’s as a Senior Credit Analyst. My role entailed comprehensive analysis of a portfolio of US Media and entertainment companies to assess their creditworthiness. My career had been a focal point in my life for over 10 years before my career break.

After getting married, I relocated to be with my hubby in the UK. Coming to the UK, immediately after marriage, to a new country was extremely challenging – both in terms of adjusting to the new lifestyle and also getting used to a completely new culture. My husband had a very time-demanding job which also involved extensive travelling, so I agreed to take a backseat in terms of my professional career. I focussed on giving back to society and volunteered as a finance governor at an early years school, undertook tutoring accounting and finance to students preparing for their university exams and supported a start-up with their accounting and book-keeping requirements.

The last nine years have been extremely fulfilling and satisfying on the personal front and it has been lovely to see my two daughters grow and develop. It was when my youngest one started pre-school and my husband changed jobs and moved to a role that was a lot less stressful and more flexible, that I got a window of opportunity to focus on my professional growth and explore my full potential. This was not only for job satisfaction and financial independence but also to model to my two lovely daughters to aspire and to achieve and that women can ‘have it all and do it all’.

I joined Fitch’s Credit Path program along with a cohort of vibrant, passionate women all from different backgrounds and stages of career. I was genuinely impressed from the first day on, when we had a dynamic session with women at senior management level. The program, overall, gave me an opportunity to test the waters, rather than dive into the deep end, the prospect of which was unnerving, after a break of 9 years and the on-the-job training greatly assisted me in re-building my confidence. After successfully completing the program, I was delighted to get an offer to join the Fitch family on a permanent basis as a Senior Analyst.

Although it’s still relatively early days, the experience has been absolutely phenomenal and it’s great to be back at work again and surrounded by great mentors and leaders in my team. I should also mention that the training and mentoring has not stopped with the CreditPath program, but is still continuing towards a ‘fast track to growth’ within the company.

My advice to anyone who is trying to get back to work is:

  • It’s perfectly okay and natural for self-confidence to be on the lower side having not been at work for a long time. But believe me when I say it will all come back and the world is changing at such a fast pace that even people who have been around for long are having to reinvent.
  • You are never alone in this and we are lucky to be living at a time when there are a growing number of organisations who are focussed on supporting and mentoring you to get back on the career ladder and are actually rooting for your success.
  • It is but natural to worry of how things will be managed, especially with kids but in my experience, things will naturally adjust and fall into place. There will be days when guilt or imposter syndrome will take over or when you will feel like you are not doing justice to your job or your kids but ride it out.