Challenges and determination
PROFILE: Deutsche Bank's Yolanda Miya
This trailblazer has made the world of investment banking her oyster; she has thrived in the face of adversity
Yolanda Miya: MD of financing & solutions group at Deutsche Bank in SA.
Miya, the first woman to be appointed to Deutsche Bank SA as MD, is a pioneer.
She leads the financing and solutions group at Deutsche Bank SA, and corporate and public sector clients are included in her portfolio.
Starting her career in equities research at the bank, she had to contend with the dominance in the industry of ambitious male investment bankers and, later, with high levels of stress.
Miya rose to the post of equity sales specialist. “I spent 10 years in equities,” she says. “The first four were in equities research, and it was the most challenging period in my life.”
Miya had to regularly remind herself the job was “a means to an end”, and the skills she would acquire during the process would get her career going. “Fortunately I had very good teachers. I worked with some of the top analysts in the market.”
Working in a male-dominated industry wasn’t easy. “Speaking frankly, expectations of me may have been low to begin with, so I sometimes needed to just be average to shine. If I excelled a little bit more than that, the world was my oyster.
“I created enough empathy in our interactions for these ‘masters of the universe’ to feel that they had a responsibility to teach me.
“It wasn’t easy at all, and I sometimes used the challenge of being a young minority member in a heavily male-orientated industry to my advantage.”
Miya moved to London in 2006 at the peak of the emerging markets boom.
But things started to unravel soon after her arrival. The 2008 global financial crisis turned London’s financial district into a ghost town.
When Lehman Brothers collapsed, Miya says, “it felt as if a carpet had been pulled from under me”.
She says: “It became very real when I would get on the tube and see bankers who had just been let go carrying their boxes. Because London had a lot of expats, many of our friends had to return to their own countries.”
This killed morale. “I was fortunate enough to keep my job, and stayed in London until the market reached a new normal,” she says.
She returned to SA in 2010, when she was pregnant.
She was promoted to the rank of director in 2011, and led the local SA equity sales team, earning the Dealer of the Year award of the Association for Black Securities & Investment Professionals in 2012.
In her role as SA head of equity sales, Miya has participated in game-changing transactions such the Massmart-Walmart merger, as well as the listings of taxi financier Transaction Capital and retirement administrator Alexander Forbes.
She was promoted to head of public sector coverage in 2015.