Francisca Lopes da Fonseca recently joined IQ-EQ as Global Head of Group Risk & Compliance (GRC) Strategy & Operations. With over 15 years’ experience in programme management and risk and compliance operations, Francisca is an expert in scaling and maturing GRC teams, as well as creating sustainable solutions for fast growing companies with a passion for diversity, equality and inclusion (DE&I) and environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies.
Ahead of International Women’s Day, we talked to her about her career so far in the financial services industry and why gender equity matters.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your career so far.
It’s a story of grabbing opportunities and letting myself be charmed by the unknown. I started as a clinical psychologist, got a Master’s degree in Marketing, became a strategic consultant and spent some time focusing on revenue growth before finding a place in risk and compliance and second-line-of-defense operations.
What does your role involve at IQ-EQ?
I coordinate all governance, operations and strategic initiatives across the Group Risk & Compliance function, and support Sally Alayarian, our Group Chief Risk Officer, in guaranteeing the optimal functioning of the department.
What do you like most about your new role?
What I enjoy about my role is that it combines the two things I like most – I get to contribute to GRC’s growth and maturity, and I’m responsible for strategic projects meaning my days are always different and I never get bored!
What do you consider your greatest achievement to date, personally or professionally?
My passionfruit tart.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Eating the aforementioned tart… but also travelling, photography, reading and going to music festivals and concerts.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
It’s easier and more rewarding to excel at something you’re already good at than put a lot of energy into filling every single gap in your skills.
Given the chance, if you could do any other job for the day, what would it be and why?
Investigative reporter – it combines travelling, my secret aspiration to be a spy, writing about something that could change the world for the better and sometimes photography. Also, you can win a Pulitzer!
What woman inspires you the most and why?
Throughout history, there is no shortage of women who have changed the world. I am inspired and awed by them all, and hope to see their feats being recognised more often. For me, one prime example is the sassy trailblazer, animal welfare advocate, racial equality defender, LGBTQ+ ally and absolute legend – Betty White.
What advice would you give to other women starting out in the industry?
Imposter syndrome is very common and very real, but also manageable. Find yourself a mentor who believes in you and, once you’re a bit more senior, a sponsor. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, learn more about it here.
Why should gender equity matter to a business?
Because it’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do. Companies with greater gender and racial diversity amongst their executive teams tend to have higher profits and longer-term value.
The benefits are reflected in the bottom line, but also in our day-to-day: more creativity, different skillsets, increased organisational efficiency, innovation, positive reputation, employee retention… It’s difficult to find a reason why it shouldn’t matter!