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citi

Elissar Farah Antonios – CEO of Citi UAE & Levant


Elissar leads Citi’s largest and most diverse franchise in the Middle East and Africa, where she oversees Corporate, Investment Banking and Wealth Management services. Her banking career started 29 years ago in the London office of the Bank of New York. On her way to Citi, Elissar spent a few years with Credit Agricole Indosuez and ABN AMRO.

Elissar was ranked by Forbes Middle East among the top 100 most powerful and influential Arab businesswomen in 2017 and 2018. She is active in various community service organizations: Elissar is the senior sponsor of Citi’s UAE Women Network and is on the Advisory Board of the Olayan School of Business at the American University of Beirut. She has also been an Advisory Member of the Lebanese Banking Association and helped launch the United Nation Global Compact Network in Lebanon.

Having such a seasoned banker on the show, I had to get some advice on wealth management – an issue that plagues many When Women Win listeners. We then got into the gender pay gap, as the Financial Services industry in general performs badly here. I was surprised to learn that Citi had done a deep dive on this issue – and had made their findings public.

We discussed why women are leaving the corporate world and how to retain them. Spoiler alert: this includes paternity leave! We went deep into challenges that Elissar faced at very stages of her career – from her starting out, to mid-career to much more recently. And finally, we discussed the importance of balance in one’s life – and how to get it. Another spoiler? Nope 🙂

My favorite quote of the episode was: “The position itself doesn’t give you the authority. You EARN the authority and respect with time, as you demonstrate the value”.

You can find Elissar on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Please do get in touch with the team at When Women Win and let us know what you think of this episode or the show in general. You can reach us via InstagramTwitter, LinkedIn – or the contact form on the home page. Thank you!