December 07, 2015 10:00 AM
By Jane Abramovich, Head of the Global Access to Finance Practice Group, TechnoServe
As part of our work to engage progress makers, this year Citi is partnering with Know Your Value, a program with NBCUniversal News Group and Mika Brzezinski, to explore how female aspiring leaders can get their worth at work and create the lives they want. Jane Abramovich, head of the global Access to Finance Practice Group at TechnoServe, a nonprofit organization and Citi Foundation partner that develops business solutions to poverty by linking hardworking people around the world to relevant information, capital and markets was part of Citi’s breakout session Making Your Ideas Real. Jane manages strategic relationships with financial service partners, provides technical expertise to program design and implementation teams, and develops and shares best practices, tools and innovations around lasting financial solutions in the developing world. Below she answers a few questions.
1. Tell us about a "Know Your Value" moment in your career?
After working in New York for a large banking institution, I decided to relocate to take on an exciting new challenge in a key emerging market country. I joined and was soon leading a growing capital markets team in a market which, while it had great potential for new ventures and rapid growth, lacked transparency and trust between foreign investors looking to enter the market and local business partners seeking to identify alternative sources of capital.
Coming from New York, I was initially seen as an outsider, despite predominantly representing the interests of local clients. During one transaction, we were several weeks into the due diligence process for an acquisition of a large retail center by a European investor and were finishing up a long site visit. While both sides seemed eager to close on the sale, the initial gap in expectations was quite wide, largely due to lack of trust and understanding of the other’s position. Towards the end of the visit, and after numerous conversations both individually and together with each party, I happened to find myself walking between the investing partner and the business owner. Virtually at the same time, each leaned over and in different languages, practically verbatim whispered the same sentence to me, “We really appreciate you looking at this from our perspective, thanks for defending our position.”
I can vividly recall that ‘know your value’ moment, appreciating the work that went into bringing the two parties together and bridging both the cultural and technical gaps in their negotiating postures, in addition to developing their long-term working relationship. It reinforced my desire to play a similar role in even more frontier markets, building linkages between financial partners and entrepreneurs who face even bigger challenges accessing capital. Moments such as these led me to my current role at TechnoServe, working to expand our emerging financial advisory practice in some of the poorest countries in the world.