As a leader in EY’s Financial Services Strategy and Transactions team, Shalini Shan manages a high-performing team, advising firms and running large-scale projects on a daily basis. Through the pandemic specifically, responding to the economic impact of COVID-19, Shalini took on an instrumental role leading the analysis for a Recapitalisation research project, which achieved significant external attention and influenced policy at the highest level. At no point amidst the ongoing pressure of 2020/21 did Shalini press pause, and throughout has maintained a high focus on supporting talent and diversity initiatives, including her sponsorship of EY’s female mentoring programme and its Women in FinTech programmes.
Shalini is an Associate Partner in EY’s Strategy and Transactions (SaT) practice and, as well as leading a number of projects with banks and private equity firms, recently led some of EY’s most high-profile Financial Services policy work. These include spearheading the recapitalisation work with TheCityUK; coauthoring a global FinTech research report with Innovate Finance and the City of London, which has been taken forward by the UK Government; launching a forecasting capability to help understand how the UK economy will reemerge with strength; and supporting UK Finance with their strategy planning and implementation.
To give you an idea of the scope of the recapitalisation work – the project produced three ground-breaking reports, published in just six months, and was the culmination of intensive modelling and forecasting, and consultation with over 200 senior practitioners from 50 financial and professional services firms. The aim was to identify solutions to support up to 780,000 small and medium-sized UK businesses (SMEs), accounting for up to 3 million jobs. The project set out far-reaching options for SMEs to get back on their feet and access growth capital to help power their recovery individually and collectively, up and down the country. Shalini’s team carried out extensive analysis on the impacts on SME distress and of recovery from recessions in other markets, and their work remains current as the industry looks to achieve improved SME funding models for the longer term.
Noting the scale and complexity of the pandemic, and the wide-ranging extent of the impact on businesses, Shalini’s work recognises the challenging macro- and socio-economic problems that needed to be addressed. She commented: “There is a fantastic team at EY engaging with industry and beyond. For this work we considered a huge range of perspectives – including those of businesses, lenders, investors, trade associations and regulators. The magnitude of the problem was unprecedented, particularly given the level of uncertainty as to how the virus would evolve, how the vaccine rollout would happen and how the economy would respond. The scale and complexity of the issues meant there were no quick and easy options, or a one-size-fits-all solution, and we helped to protect businesses when it was desperately needed.”
Shalini has always been an advocate of female peers and actively looks to empower more junior colleagues. She is keen to expand horizons and coach, going out of her way to find ways for the people in her team to access cutting edge work and new skills, and be recognised for their contribution.
Shalini has been involved in formal initiatives and was instrumental in developing the Financial Services Strategy and Transactions Female Mentoring Programme at EY. This focuses on helping women in what is often a very male-dominated environment build formal and informal networks and establish formative mentoring relationships. The success of the programme has led to its replication in other parts of the firm. Meanwhile, the original initiative continues to mature in scope and ambition with Shalini now passing the baton on the active network to other female senior managers to expand its reach.
The past 18 months, however, saw Shalini’s contribution to diversity and inclusion grow further – leading to EY selecting her to be their role model for the Women in Banking & Finance’s Recognition of Achievement programme. Ten women have been promoted or joined the SaT team in 2021, helping the team of senior women in transactions grow, and Shalini is sponsoring yet more women to lead projects, showcase their capabilities and build their profile within EY.
Tom Groom, Managing Partner, Financial Services Strategy and Transactions at EY, commented: “Shalini’s work on the recapitalisation project – which was so important in defining the financial services response to COVID-19 – along with her strategy work at trade body level and for EY’s clients, is testament to the impact she is having in the financial services industry. But her impact comes not just from what she has achieved, but also how she has achieved it. She promotes her teams and provides active female sponsorship to ensure the next generation maximise their opportunities.”
However, it was Shalini’s own words of advice the WIBF team appreciated: “I would say that you should not be afraid to make little leaps of faith along the way. This could be a slightly different path, a secondment opportunity, a move overseas, or a career change. These may seem scary or uncomfortable at first, but if you’re committed and open, you will land on your feet. And, if things don’t go as you had hoped, you can always make a change that you may not have anticipated. A lot of the women I know are natural planners and doers, and deviating from a career plan can be hard. I’ve really benefited from these little leaps of faith and, in hindsight, wish I’d been more confident at the start of my career and understood that it was all part of the journey.”