First woman to head a major bank in Pakistan?

BE2C2 Report — Banking professional Sima Kamil, said to be ‘Pakistan’s powerful women in business’, may become the first woman to head a major commercial bank in the country.

Sima had been leading Habib Bank’s (HBL) Branch Banking since 2011 and was overseeing the 1,700-strong branch network, dealing in Retail, Consumer, SME, Rural Banking and Wealth Management – a huge portfolio by banking sector’s standards.

An internal bank memo (published by Profit) confirms that Kamil has left HBL after working at the bank for last 16 years.

Kamil, who holds an MBA from City University, London, is one of the most experienced bankers in Pakistan with 25 years of experience, a clear indication that she ventured into banking and finance at a time when the country’s financial services sector was a male dominated profession. She was previously associated with the American Express Bank and the Standard Chartered Bank – foreign owned. Her past assignments also include heading HBL’s Corporate banking division – a prestigious and powerful domain where one gets to interact with movers and shakers in business and finance including ministries.

Kamil also served as Director of HBL Asset Management Company Limited, a report in the Pakistan Today said.

UBL has denied Ms. Kamil would be joining them as its President & CEO, however rumor mill in the banking and financial sectors is abuzz.

Some sources from the banking sector claim that Sima could be initially joining UBL as its deputy CEO – a step below the glass ceiling.

UBL has through a press release denied any change is forthcoming at the top, a local news report said.

An unsigned PR from UBL released to the media, said ““The Board of Directors (BoD) of UBL…strongly rejects all rumors being spread on this matter…”

UBL had recently been adjudged the Best Bank in Pakistan in Pakistan’s first banking awards.

The publicly-held bank boosted its net profit in 2016 by 7.8% to Rs27.7 billion and gave a total shareholder return of 66%. This is the highest return by any bank in the listed sector, outperforming the market by 20% in a year when banking sector’s overall profitability remained almost flat.

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