LONDON: Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has appointed Pakistani descent London capital markets and Islamic finance partner Farmida Bi as its Global Chair, effective January 1, 2022.
Norton Rose Fulbright is a global law firm that provides the world’s preeminent corporations and financial institutions with a full business law service. In a statement issued to announce the development, the firm’s Global Chief Executive Gerry Pecht said: “Farmida Bi has distinguished herself as a leader at our firm and an award-winning lawyer in the global business community.”
With more than 30 years of experience in debt capital markets and Islamic finance, Farmida is looking forward to nurturing a culture of inclusivity and innovation around the world. Speaking to Geo.tv, the newly appointed global chair said that the industry has changed enormously in the last 30 years — from when she first entered it.
“There used to be very few senior women or people of colour,” she recalled, highlighting that firms are now attempting to be much more inclusive and allowing people to flourish in accordance with their talents.
Farmida, named as one of Britain’s top five most powerful Muslim women by The Times on its “Muslim Women Power List”, was also recognised for her services to the law and charity by The Queen in the Birthday Honours 2020 list by being made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE).
Norton Rose Fulbright in its statement said Farmida’s leadership and practice have been acknowledged with awards such as the Financial News “Top 20 Most Influential in Legal Services 2021” and “100 Most Influential Women in European Finance” from 2019-2021; the HERoes Top 100 Role Model List 2020 and 2019; the Lawyer’s Hot 100 Leaders 2019; the “Outstanding Practitioner Award 2019” at the Euromoney, Europe Women in Business Law Awards; “Finance Team of the Year 2018” at the Legal Business Awards; and the Financial Times “100 Innovative Lawyers Europe 2018”.
However, to get there wasn’t easy for the Pakistan-born trailblazer and going forward she knows she will have to tackle several issues. Shedding light on the challenges she foresees as she assumes her new role, she said: “We have to deal with the changes and challenges that two years of COVID-19 have brought.
“We are not through the pandemic yet either, so rebuilding connections, supporting and training junior colleagues, and adapting to hybrid working, as well as supporting our clients who are responding to the climate emergency, will be important areas of focus for me.”
Farmida was born in Pakistan, however, during her childhood, she along with her family shifted to the United Kingdom. Nonetheless, the new chair has some specific plans for her home country.
Sharing these, she said that the firm works for a broad range of clients in Pakistan, from the government to energy companies, establishing renewable energy projects as well as facilitating clients conducting transactions for mergers and acquisitions (M&A), litigation and fundraising.
“We hope to increase our work in Pakistan alongside local Pakistani law firms with which we have excellent relationships,” Farmida said.
The world’s leading lawyer on Islamic finance went on to say that she is very excited to see the growth of environmental, social, and (corporate) governance (ESG), and the greater role that Islamic finance — as a form of ethical finance — can play within it.
“The pandemic has created a need for impact based finance and Islamic finance is well-positioned to respond to that need,” she explained.
Being a woman whose achievements have been celebrated around the world, Farmida feels great honour to become the Global Chair of the firm and to represent her “amazing” colleagues.
Sharing her advice for other women aspiring to make a name in the financial industry, she said: “Believe in yourself and keep going. You will get there in the end, although it’s not always a straight line.”