Nasdaq Women in Technology: Noelle Al Jaweini, Equity Markets Developments Manager, Tadawul
Noelle Al Jaweini is the Equity Markets Developments Manager at the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul). As part of her role at Tadawul, Noelle is responsible for the development of both Tadawul’s equity markets. As the overall capital markets landscape continues to evolve, and given the Exchange is at the forefront of these developments, her role is to continuously enhance Tadawul’s global competitive positioning by aligning its market model with international best practices through the introduction of new products and services. Her role also entails identifying areas of enhancement to the current product / service offering and the overall equity market microstructure from a business, regulatory, operational and technological standpoint to position the Saudi Stock Exchange as a reliable, efficient and attractive market to all investors.
Since joining the Exchange, Noelle held the role of Project Manager launching Real Estate Investment Funds (REITs) to the Saudi capital market in 2016, as well as launching Nomu, a parallel alternative market for issuers to raise capital in 2017. In terms of equity market micro-structural changes, Noelle managed the change of equity markets closing price calculation methodology from Volume Weighted Average Price (VWAP) to Closing Auction in May 2018, as well as the recent introduction of a Trade-at-Last session in May 2019, facilitating investor’s ability to trade at market closing price. In addition, Noelle oversaw the implementation of fungible cross-listing of foreign companies’ shares on Tadawul in addition to a number of operational enhancements to improve market efficiency, liquidity and market depth as part of the Exchange’s efforts towards Emerging Markets Indices inclusion. We sat down with Noelle to learn about her role at Tadawul, as well as what it’s like to be a female leader in the capital markets.
1. How has technology influenced your role at Tadawul?
I personally believe that working in Markets Development is very dynamic in nature as we are responsible for leading projects from the early stages of idea aspiration and product design all the way through to execution, whilst ensuring internal and external stakeholder alignment through to the go-live and post-launch. This entails understanding current and potential market needs and transforming an idea into tangible reality. The nature of the role I hold at the Saudi Stock Exchange requires wearing a different hat every day – this is key to ensure all of the moving parts required to build a robust, efficient product or service perfectly fit together in a seamless, streamlined manner across the value-chain. At the heart of any modern Exchange is its technology and we see this with our ongoing interaction with our trading engine’s technological service provider, Nasdaq X-Stream. Over the course of the development of any product or service or change in regulations, the influence of technology becomes key when formulating our business requirements. The bulk of our project activities rely on ensuring business needs are met through the technological development of the trading engine and that the changes to the system’s architecture are tested both internally and externally with our market participants. It is safe to say that technology is a key driver and backbone behind my ability to achieve the objectives of my role at the Exchange.
2. Throughout your career, what challenges have you been presented with that you’ve had to overcome?
Prior to working at Tadawul, I worked in management consulting. Working as a strategy consultant, I was exposed to a large number of projects that were very diverse in scope and industry. Building in-depth knowledge and knowhow of different sectors within a limited timeframe, maintaining work-life balance and being a young, Saudi, female in a competitive industry were the first handful of challenges I faced early on in my career. I am a firm believer that with every challenge comes opportunity and in my personal view, effectively overcoming challenges builds merit and character if done successfully. Persistence, commitment, continuous self-development and learning will go a long way.
I moved to the Tadawul at a very exciting time in 2015. A number of market-wide developments and reforms were taking place as part of the Exchange’s strategy to develop the Capital Market in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. During this time, we were also working on many microstructural enhancements in preparation for Emerging Markets Indices inclusions. I was faced with the challenge of learning the ins and outs of a very niche sector while managing a number of ongoing initiatives and projects. Learning from global best practices, case studies and engaging with international and institutional market participants directly contributed to overcoming these challenges.
3. How has being a woman in the financial and technology industry impacted your career?
Saudi Arabia is currently undergoing massive national transformation as part of the Kingdom’s ambitious plans under Vision 2030. The Financial Sector Development Program (FSDP) is one of the 12 key programs set to achieve the objectives of Vision 2030. The FSDP seeks to develop the financial sector as a diversified and effective financial services sector and one of the key pillars is developing an advanced capital market.
Another element under the Vision 2030 is to increase women’s participation in the workforce from 22% to 30%. This has massive impact in terms of providing equal opportunities to both genders and emphasizing women’s role in the growth and development of the Saudi economy. Over the course of the last few years, we have seen more women not only hold leadership positions, but also hold key posts as decision makers on a national scale. I am proud to say that the Saudi Stock Exchange not only provides the opportunity, but is also very supportive in empowerment.
On a global scale, technology has been at the heart of progression since the third industrial revolution where we continue to see the advancements on the digital front evolve.
I believe that taking all of these three factors into consideration, it is a very exciting time to have a career in the financial and technological sector, specifically in Saudi Arabia. With innovation and proper execution, the opportunities are limitless. On a personal level, working at the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) is unique in the sense that it has provided the opportunity to contribute to all three elements; being a woman in the Saudi workforce empowered by the Exchange, exposure to advanced technological developments as well as playing a role in further developing the Saudi Capital Market under Vision 2030.
4. What advice would you give to young professionals who aspire to be in the financial and technology industry?
At the start of your career, it is extremely important to ensure that wherever you are, you are proactively contributing to your learning curve. I cannot stress enough how critical it is to never stop learning, to always seek feedback, to stay curious and broaden your horizons, no matter where you are in your career. Build a solid foundation and enable yourself with a diverse and agile skill-set. The financial and technology industries are a universe on its own, and matchmaking between the skills you have built – and will continue to develop – and what you are truly passionate about is what will enable you to succeed and stay motivated; as a result, you will be naturally funneled into doing something that you love. Never stop growing and always set realistic, achievable yet challenging goals for yourself.
No tasks is too small. Always give 110% to everything you do, as minor as it may seem at that moment, and remember that you are contributing to the bigger picture. Commitment, hard work and dedication will always pay off. Building a brand for yourself through consistently displaying high work ethic, being a reliable team player, networking and maintaining relationships will go a long way. Finally, always be an example for others and most importantly, never stop looking for inspiration.