Bano Sheikh, Partner, Financial Services Audit, KPMG LLP, was the only female audit asset management partner when she joined KPMG in 2019. Bano is not new to being the ‘first’ or ‘only’ as she was the first female to complete the ACCA qualification in Pakistan and she was among the first few female Muslim partner in the Big 4; it was this inspirational timeline of personal achievement and public commitment to inclusivity that marked Bano out as the winner for the WIBF judges.
Since Bano joined KPMG, she has actively promoted women to leadership positions, starting an empowerment and culture change series in a department of 500 colleagues, where more than 40% are female. She challenged, for example, why colleagues returning from maternity leave were not working on large tenders and FTSE 350 clients, forcing action on the career management of talented women in the department. She worked on the unconscious biases of the leadership and ensured that each partner takes one female mentee to help her grow to a leading role. She has personally sponsored three women to director position and two to senior manager positions by giving them the opportunity of client delivery on FTSE 50 accounts and promotes and motivates women through recognition awards and appreciation, both internally and externally, creating individual brand and presence.
Bano is the sponsoring partner for KPMG’s Muslim Network, the firm’s largest faith network with over 900 members, and acts as a role model for women of colour and ethnic minority. A non-British born Muslim who moved to the UK 15 years ago, Bano has encouraged many to understand the differences of minorities and especially of women that come from ethnic Asian backgrounds. Regularly speaking at internal and external events, Bano is helping shape the DE&I agenda for women and inclusion in workplaces beyond KPMG and beyond the UK. Visibly making progress and change, Bano has invited leaders of the firm to speak at network events and made a real impact by connecting employees to leaders.
Bano’s vision and ambition have no geographical limits or brakes on aspiration for inclusivity. She has brought the wider global KPMG network together through launching the KPMG Global Muslim network through an Eid video, which had 50k+ impressions in the UK and integrating female partners from KPMG’s global network for the International Women’s Day campaign; her recent post on LinkedIn highlighting her Asian Women Achievement award nomination attracted more 22k+impressions.
Recognised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan for an outstanding achievement award in July 2022, her presence has been influential for other big professional services firms, and she has been invited to strategy sessions on how to grow the presence of ethnic minorities, especially women from an ethnic minority background, in leadership roles. She actively sponsors the Institute of Chartered Accountant of Pakistan women’s committee initiatives, offering coaching, webinars and support to help integrate women back into the workforce after a career break internationally in Pakistan, the UK and the Middle East.
“I was first introduced to Bano after taking on the role of Co-Chair of the Muslim Network of which Bano is a sponsoring partner. Since then, under Bano’s leadership we have worked together to grow the network to over 900 members and run over 20 events in 18 months. This was only achievable due to the positivity, passion and commitment Bano brings in her role as sponsoring partner. She has been a great role model for me personally and so many other aspiring ethnic minority women at the firm and externally. I am truly grateful to be in her presence and I have no doubt she will continue to inspire women across the globe to aim higher and break the glass ceiling.”
Aalia Ahmed – KPMG Muslim Network UK