Celebrating women: how I used my voice for good

10 July 2023

“The question was at the tip of my tongue. I spent weeks trying to find the answer to no avail. This was my chance.

Taking a deep breath, I stood up at the town hall commemorating the first visit of the Asia Pacific CEO, and asked the guest of honour, “Why don’t we have the global fast-track executive development programme in the Bangladesh office?”

It was around the year 2000. I was a 25-year-old young female associate in a global corporation, speaking out in a room of about 50 that included senior leaders from APAC and Bangladesh.

The room fell silent, I felt stares from all directions. I later learnt that a junior employee asking such a question publicly could be perceived as challenging the management’s decisions – it was also pretty uncommon.

“A very good question, but I feel the country Head will be the best person to answer this,” he responded. The Bangladesh CEO said simply, “We’ll look into it."

After the town hall, my senior colleagues joked that I’d find a note at my desk telling me my services were no longer required.

Indeed, I got a note a few months later - but it was an invitation to apply for the fast-track programme. I was the only one from the Bangladesh office to get in that year.

That incident remains firmly etched in my mind, reinforcing my belief in having the courage to ask questions and advocate for myself, regardless of circumstance. It shaped me into the leader I am today, as the Chief Representative of the DBS Dhaka representative office.

Sure, as a straightforward and outspoken woman, I’ve faced a fair share of criticism. Growing up, I was nicknamed “the rebel” by my family when I questioned traditions imposed by my elders. In my previous workplaces, I’ve been called “tough”.

Still, I believe that everyone should be judged based on their abilities and hard work, not their gender. I’m proud that DBS recognised this when they approached me to lead their Dhaka business.

I was particularly impressed by how easily I could informally chat with senior leaders like Piyush (DBS CEO) and Su Shan (Group Head of Institutional Banking at DBS), when they visited for the inauguration ceremony earlier this month. It eased my stress and motivated me in my role.

Here at DBS Dhaka, I deliver key market information for the business and develop strategy for the expansion of our presence in one of the world’s fastest growing markets.

I hope to be a good role model and mentor to my junior colleagues - to always remind them to speak up and fight for what they truly believe in.”

Tahsina Banu, Chief Representative, DBS Dhaka, Bangladesh

We're celebrating women as part of #InternationalWomensDay in the month of March. Join us as we #EmbraceEquity

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