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Women with Ambition: Up Close with Nora Tahir

Ambition now has its third edition in the Women with Ambition series. The objective of this series is to foster a female community of professionals where senior leaders share their stories, experiences and advice to inspire, motivate and empower other female professionals. As part of this series, we’ll be sharing relevant content, interviews and host exclusive events for this community.

In today’s feature, Norazilla Md Tahir, who is the Senior Vice President, Finance & Business Process at Cagamas Group, shares the lessons she has learnt in her journey.


1. JP Morgan Chase, Citibank Inc. and Mastercard are just some of the companies who have adjusted the gender pay gap to close to one percent. Can you share examples of equality practices that your firm looks closely at?

It is very enlightening to see that there is women representation at every level in my organisation. We have female board members as well as those at management level who came from different professional backgrounds. Women make up 54% of our workforce, and this very much supports the fact that there are no gender barriers.


2. If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would that be?

When I started my contract in a medium-sized audit firm in London, I was that charming Asian girl and naturally, I had all the cooperation I needed to complete my assignments.

Despite that, I would have told myself to master communication skills earlier because this would have enabled me to influence people around me more effectively. This would have cut down the time needed to complete my tasks as I would've then been able to state my objectives clearly.


3. Who inspires you and why?

Those who inspire me a lot tend to be the people who have made a difference in the lives of others even though they have no additional resources than what we were all born with. With this realisation, I believe that I can make a difference in my own way, helping others realise their potentials and achieve their life goals.


4. What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?

Most of us, men or women, will start in a small role, and your talent, skills and positive contribution will determine the speed of your personal growth. 

Focus on the big picture and where you want to fit in that picture. With that in mind, stay hungry, and that will drive you towards your goals.


5. As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career?

No one other than ourselves knows where we are heading, and the only one who is capable of placing the barrier is us. Naturally, there will be times when there's a barrier in our path; there are things we can do to remove it - use your talents and skills. 

Let me end with my favourite quote by Erma Bombeck:

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me.”  

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