In Conversation with the Chairs: Passing the Torch

As the former Chair of the Board of Directors of the Financial Alliance for Women, Tania Moussallem, steps down and the Alliance’s new Chair, Ann Cairns, Executive Vice Chairman of Mastercard, takes the reins, we caught up with both of them to get their thoughts on where the Alliance has come from and where they’d like to see it headed. 

Tania Moussallem
Tania Moussallem

 Financial Alliance for Women: How would you describe your journey as Chair?

Tania Moussallem: In my role as Chair of the Financial Alliance for Women l’ve had the privilege and pleasure to work with a committed and highly qualified board, a passionate and efficient team as well as our members, who are an infinite source of inspiration all working toward the same goal: to economically empower women. During two successive 2-year terms, our Alliance was able to grow its active membership base by 70 percent and multiplied the number of women served by them to reach several hundreds of millions of women across the globe – improving their lives, that of their families, communities and enterprises, and enhancing economic growth in related countries. The Alliance was able to move the conversation from making the business case through data to using such data to better serve the Women’s Market and spread best practices to do so. It evolved to play a catalytic role by putting together the ecosystem of players to accelerate impact, including by influencing policymakers at the very top level.

Alliance: Looking back at your two terms, what would you say was the biggest challenge you overcame, the most impactful change you brought forward, and the one project you’d like to see adopted going forward?

Tania: The challenge was to evolve with the world that surrounds us, where boundaries between industries are blurring day by day. This is why our Alliance has decided to review its strategy to include not only banks, but all players that can drive women’s wealth or have the potential to do so across women segments and their lifecycles. These include payment, technology, insurance, wealth management, e-commerce, VC, fintech companies, etc. This has created synergies among players from different industries, generating innovative solutions that benefited our members and their women clients. Transforming in this direction triggered a rebranding of our identity from Global Banking Alliance for Women to Financial Alliance for Women – a more inclusive name that much better describes the diversity of our actual and future members. Going forward, pursuing membership diversity and harnessing fast-evolving technologies in the service of better including women will be determining factors in preventing the gender gap from widening – and hopefully shrinking it.

Alliance: What does the future hold for Tania Moussallem?

Tania: I am a banker by career and will continue in this direction. But whatever I do, this cause will always be part of my DNA and my vision for a better world for all of us: companies, governments and societies. As such, I will always be an indefectible supporter and friend of the Financial Alliance for Women! I do not need to wish Ann Cairns luck as I am confident her input will be of tremendous value to our Alliance. 


Ann Cairns

Alliance: You’re taking the reins of the Financial Alliance for Women at a time when it has undergone some major transformations. What’s your vision for the organization going forward?

Ann Cairns: Our vision is to expand the Alliance’s size and reach to create a worldwide, high-impact network of members that really drive transformation for the female economy. We want to significantly improve the security and financial well-being of women across all life stages and accelerate them toward equal participation in global economic growth. 

Alliance: Mastercard will be hosting the 2020 Summit. What’s the one major objective you wish to achieve during that Summit?

Ann: We are very excited to host next year’s Summit and want participants to feel that it is one of the highlights of their business year. Success would be if both members and non-members experience the energy and dynamism of the Alliance and leave with excellent ideas that they can implement to champion the female economy.

Alliance: What’s the one daring project/goal you aim to have the Alliance achieve in the next two years?

Ann: To become known as one of the “top partners to work with” when your business is serious about serving women across the financial sector.