Adilah Ashari

Adilah Ashari, the Assistant Manager of Group Sustainability CIMB, shares her working experience with CIMB Bank.
Adilah Ashari
Adilah Ashari
Assistant Manager
Adilah Ashari_Rising Star_CIMB


  • MEng Chemical Engineering, University College London (UCL), 2019

How did you get into your current line of work?

I got into banking because I was curious about how the financial system – a critical player in realising sustainable development – can be transformed to align and support recognised sustainability agendas such as the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) and Paris Agreement.

My first stepping stone was The Complete BankerTM (TCB) programme by CIMB. It was during one of the rotations in Group Sustainability that triggered my interest and ignited my passion for sustainability. The Complete BankerTM programme was designed to empower our young talents to discover & nurture their interest.

What do you do day-to-day on the job?

My team focuses on integrating sustainability into the bank’s core business through 5 focus areas, i.e. Sustainable Action (CIMB’s business operations), Sustainable Business (generating profit in a responsible manner), Corporate Social Responsibility (CIMB’s philanthropic arm), underpinned by good Governance and Risk management and effective Stakeholder Engagement and Advocacy.

I am primarily involved in The Strategy & Programme Management Office, which oversees and drives key projects in all 5 areas and Sustainable Business Development. The latter involves a close partnership with our Business Units (e.g. Wholesale and Commercial Banking teams) to assist and encourage our clients on their sustainability journey through sustainable finance solutions such as Sustainability Linked Loans, Sustainable Bonds/Sukuk, etc.

What would you say is the coolest thing about your current role?

Governments and corporations are actively transforming the regulatory landscape and market to make it more sustainable in support of the whole-of-society sustainability approach. My role allows me to be at the forefront of the market and standards development in this rapidly evolving space, exposing me to a wide range of opportunities emerging from critical global issues. I find this the most rewarding with my job currently, especially being an engineer by training who finds satisfaction in solving problems.

What were the toughest parts of your role, and how did you overcome them? 

Aside from the technical knowledge that I had to pick up, adapting to a corporate culture that was foreign to me (having come out straight from university) was a challenge too.

The Complete BankerTM (TCB), a structured development programme that I was a part of in my first two years with CIMB, did help in overcoming these challenges. The programme’s rotation system enabled me to experience various functions across the bank, which allowed me to expand my network, get a decent introduction to interdepartmental dynamics and develop crossfunctional skills, within a short period.

I was also privileged to be surrounded by extremely supportive peers in the same programme, which boosted my morale.

In addition to the external support I received through the programme, my internal motivation is arguably just as important (if not more) in addressing these challenges. Being clear with my priorities, knowing my limits and not being scared to voice them out greatly impacted my propensity to learn and grow personally and professionally.

What essential skills do you think are needed for your role?

A cliché, but being agile helps, especially in a space that is evolving at a swift pace.

Of course, depending on the area you plan to focus on, the hard skills required will vary (e.g. data management and programming are some useful skills to have to navigate tools managing climate change risks, for instance) however, for the most part, these skills can be picked up along the way, as long as you remain open and willing to put in the time and effort.

Do you have any advice for your fellow graduates/juniors?

Embrace uncertainty and acknowledge that failure is an important part of any learning process. Learn from your mistakes and move forward, everyone makes them! Don’t spend energy on those that undermine you for it. From a more personal perspective, know your priorities and do not compare them to others. Your definition of success and the ideal job will only continue to evolve with time and your surroundings.