Who is a Financial Risk Analyst? What kind of background do you need to become one? What are your duties and responsibilities? Margaret is here to answer some of these questions today;
Hi, Margaret! You are the first Financial Risk Analyst we are hosting. Thank you for volunteering to share with us about your field of work
Hi Winnie, thank you for this opportunity. What you are doing for young girls interests me a lot and it gives me great joy to add my voice to it.
Please share a little bit about yourself with our audience
I’m Margaret Wanjiru Kinyanjui, and I am from Kenya. My current position is that of a Financial Risk Analyst at a leading diversified financial services company in Kenya. My main focus is to monitor the company’s financial risk exposure across portfolios as well as to timely identify, assess, mitigate, report, and escalate any other risks that are identified.
I am also one of the four co-organizers of R-Ladies Nairobi, a local chapter of R-Ladies Global, an organization that promotes gender diversity in the community of users of the R statistical programming language. The community’s primary focus is designed to develop our members’ R skills and knowledge through social, collaborative learning and sharing, and to contribute to the global R community!
I first heard about R-Ladies Nairobi during my interview with Njoki. This is such a small world!
Walk us through your journey to becoming a Financial Risk Analyst
My father, a former math and chemistry teacher, and current statistics lecturer inspired my love for math as a kid. I like to believe that I inherited his mathematical ability. By encouraging me to continuously practice my math skills, my parents prevented me from growing up internalizing the widespread but inaccurate belief that girls are inherently unable to grasp the subject.
My interest and enthusiasm for mathematics skyrocketed once I earned the “Best at Math” badge when I was 11 years old. In retrospect, I realize that I did think I was pretty good at it. I was also one of the top math and chemistry students in my high school, particularly from Form 3 until the end. This led to invitations to participate in several math contests. In 2013, I was awarded Second Best at the school’s 2013 inter-house competition.
In the end, I decided to major in actuarial science at the undergraduate level. My journey into the fantastic fields of statistics, risk mathematics, and data science began at this point. I realized my passion for programming while in school, so I started taking R seminars on the side. After I graduated from university, I got an internship and started a data blog. Both were great ways to learn about data analytics, create content for websites, and use social media to make a company more visible online and bring in new clients. Later, I became and am currently a financial risk analyst at a leading diversified financial services company here in Kenya after starting as a risk associate there.
What are some of the challenges you have faced on your journey as a Financial Risk Analyst?
There have been obstacles for me throughout my life. I had to make a lot of commitments to get through school and pass my professional exams, including giving up a lot of sleep and early mornings. I also sometimes have impostor syndrome. When this happens, I have to remind myself how important it is to recognize and appreciate even the smallest of my accomplishments and be kind to myself.
Apart from self-realization, what motivates you to move forward when faced with challenges?
My mother has been a great source of motivation for me, helping me overcome a broad range of challenges. I’ve also had to go for opportunities even while feeling nervous and uncertain, but I’ve overcome these feelings and proven to myself that everything is possible. My tenacity and optimistic outlook on wanting to learn more motivate me. To this, I add the simple art of attentively listening, especially in rooms full of experts. Also, I like to look at my mistakes as lessons in disguise.
Tell us about your achievements, awards, and moments of recognition in your career as a Financial Risk Analyst
I am happy to have achieved the Financial Risk Manager (FRM) designation in January 2023, awarded by the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP), which is the world’s most highly respected certification for financial risk management professionals. Achieving the FRM, after passing a rigorous exam and demonstrating relevant work experience, signifies a mastery of the essential knowledge and skills needed to manage risk in the global financial markets.
In 2020, I was also selected as a Diversity Scholar for the useR! 2020 international conference in St Louis, Missouri, United States, July 7–10, 2020 (which was disrupted by COVID-19). The conference showcases applications of R software and developments in the software itself. It also shows new and updated R packages that provide boundless additional functionality to R. Community contributions also form the foundation of useR! Conferences.
Who are you outside of work?
Aside from work, I enjoy hiking with Let’s Drift, jogging and taking nature walks, watching comedies, listening to music, and being both a plant and cat mom. I enjoy taking care of my plants and capturing moments with my pet.
What is your favorite quote?
“Believe you can, and you’re halfway there” ~ Theodore Roosevelt.
What is your word of encouragement for a young girl who wants to become a Financial Risk Analyst?
Embrace the unlearning, relearning, and learning that come with the journey of self-discovery. To take any kind of action, one must first take the initiative. To take the initiative, one must believe one can succeed. The mind is the foundation. You don’t have to know every solution right away, as some things become clear over time. Even when things look their worst, having a strong belief in yourself and a great support system can help you keep going.
Once again, thank you, Maggie, for volunteering to share your career journey with us. I know someone will learn about how to become a Financial Risk Analyst.