As President and CEO of Women’s World Banking, Mary Ellen Iskenderian is passionate about bringing impactful financial services offerings to women across the globe. Throughout her early career in investment banking and financial services, Iskenderian says that questions like, “How many women are you serving?” and “Are women getting loans at the same size as men?” were never really asked – something that, through her work with WWB, she’s working to change.
Iskenderian started her career at Lehman Brothers, but soon realized that the role she was playing there didn’t allow her to make the kind of positive impact that she wanted to be able to through her finance career. Iskenderian was later accepted into the World Bank’s Young Professionals Program, where, during her time there, world events changed the path of her career forever. The Berlin Wall fell, and the World Bank was tasked with helping to rebuild public and private financial institutions. Iskenderian spent the next eight years working on stock exchanges, securities regulators, reclaiming financial systems, and largely serving as an advisor to Eastern Europeans companies in need of direction at that time. She also worked on the first IPO that was done on the Warsaw Stock Exchange (housed in the former KGB headquarters in Warsaw), which she calls “an extraordinary opportunity and an amazing moment in history.”