A Focus on Women: A Need for More Women on Boards


 

Krishika began her career with SPSE in 2009 moving up the ranks and was appointed as CEO in July 2017. As head of the exchange she plays a pivotal role in the strategic development of the exchange, as well as oversight of all SPSE activities, managing day to day operations of the Exchange as well as its fully owned subsidiary company, Central Share Registry Limited. Krishika is also a member of Women in Business and is a strong advocate for women in commerce and in particular on publicly listed companies. 

Q. You began your career with the Stock Exchange in 2009, less than 8 years later you’re the CEO, how would you describe that progression?

It’s been a very exciting experience. I came into the stock exchange as a fresh graduate out of law school and I got to learn a lot of new things. I worked my way up the ranks starting off as a research and compliance officer then became the manager of compliance, and then I started doing secretarial work with the company board. In that sense the progression was fair. I managed to grasp the work that was involved in the position prior to becoming CEO because I had seen all aspects of the organisation, so it was an easy transition.

Q. Are there any special difficulties in terms of being a woman holding that position?

I wouldn’t say difficult, and in many ways, it has been a blessing for me. In the Pacific region, especially Fiji, we have few women who take up leadership roles, so in that sense I would say I’m lucky to get into a leadership position. When I go to certain events I’m usually the only female in a very male dominated area. But I’ve never felt it was difficult being a woman. Many of the men make me feel welcome and have wholeheartedly accepted me and helped me. The few other female leaders have really pushed me into this role and said that I need to give my 100 percent to it.  

Q. So, there’s not many women on boards with companies listed at the exchange. How many are there and why do you think the rate is so low? 

There is a cultural dimension to women getting into leadership roles and it is one of the difficulties we have been facing for several years, not just in Fiji, but in the Pacific and also worldwide.  Only now have we really started pushing for gender diversity. Being a woman in a leadership role, I felt I had that power to encourage other women to come into leadership roles. Of course, the number of women on boards in SPSE is low – only 13 to 14 percent. What we have been doing is going to listed companies and explaining the benefits and effects of gender diversity. Obviously, there are the cultural aspects and a lack of women willing to apply, so they have been struggling to find women to take on these roles. So, what we realized is we need to provide a better platform for women with more training and providing the skilled requirements to encourage them to apply for these types of roles.

Q. In your role you’re responsible for the development of the SPSE, what’s your ambition for its development?

I’m very passionate about the stock market as this was my first job coming out of university, so it is very close to my heart. Throughout the years in my role here I wanted to develop the stock exchange. The board has allowed me to take some bold steps. We came up with a new strategic plan for 2018-2020 and that’s what we are implementing now. Our vision is to become the preferred security exchange for the South Pacific region. We have achieved a lot in a short time when it comes to different goals. For example, we have our electronic trading systems, a share registry system which is very much up to date in terms of technical advancement, and we have around 20,000 investors in the stock market. I’m hoping by the time I finish this position it should really be that any person can invest in the stock market as comfortably as they are able to put savings into a bank account.

Q. Looking into the future what would you like to see in 20 years time?

From the stock exchange perspective, I would like to see more products listed on the market and more robust frameworks in place. Of course, there will be more technological advancement as well. I really would like to see the South Pacific stock exchange as being very visible, not just within the region, but around the globe as well. Regarding myself I really haven’t given much thought to where I’ll be in 20 years. There’s still a lot more time for me to learn and achieve in life. I enjoy new and different types of challenges and I’m very interested to see what life throws at me.

 

April 2019