Zeinab wears our Arlington dress in Cobalt, £119 (above)
What does your job role entail?
I am a consultant for Sionic, a global consultancy firm specialising in financial services. My role is to clarify the business wants versus needs, prioritise them and communicate them to business stakeholders. Providing my skills on an associate basis gives me the flexibility to work full-time for part of the year, as well as to pursue other endeavours and balance my family life. At Sionic I’m usually placed with a Tier 1 bank, where I provide a structured analytical approach to clarifying the business needs in complex projects. It’s my responsibility to work with stakeholders across my client’s organisation and external bodies (regulators, credit rating bodies, asset managers etc) to agree on a standardised approach based on a clear list of assumptions and dependencies.
Run me through your typical working day.
My day varies depending on where the project is and what business challenges may be impacting its progress. Identifying the right individuals needed to resolve these challenges is key, but I also have to communicate with multiple stakeholders, manage expectations and/or gain approvals about the project approach as it progresses.
What inspired you to start Dress to Lead?
About five years ago, I became the principal business analyst for a greenfield project, which had high visibility with senior stakeholders, so I had to build relationships, fast. Though I was a confident communicator on the phone or in emails, I found myself awkward in our initial face-to-face meetings. I thought dressing for success might give me a confidence boost so I started taking advice from numerous books on personal style, image consulting and looking after clothing. This drastically changed how I saw myself and how I was received at initial meetings: it elevated my presence in the room and made relationship building easier. I wanted to share this knowledge with women who were building their careers and facing difficulties with creating a good first impression.
Zeinab wears our Marlborough dress in Rosehip, £138 (right)
What services does Dress to Lead offer?
Many women simply do not have the time to explore how to dress for success, so we provide “done for you” services. These include a fully shoppable look-book for a new work wardrobe; a personal styling kit to maintain your clothes, including durable hangers and lint rollers; and our premier service – a styling day that ends with a studio session for portrait photos for your professional online presence.
What are your career highs and lows?
I’ve had many highs as a consultant in the delivery of high-profile projects, but the long hours and business travel were my personal low points. Having recognised this, I now seek terms of engagement that work well for myself and for my consultancy.
With only 37% of managerial and 15% of executive level roles in the finance industry filled by women, do you feel like you have to fight for your voice to be heard?
I recognise the statistics, but choose not to let them get in my way. It is harder for women, but I apply a positive mindset to any challenge or engagement I take on. When the challenge to be heard seems too great, I look for help. I reach out to female friends in the industry, get advice from mentors and listen to their input to improve my responses to the status quo. No one and no challenge can stop you when you are relentless in your pursuit.
Zeinab wears our Radley dress in Navy, £169 (left)
How do you ensure you stand out in this male dominated environment?
I take a proactive attitude and ensure that my goals are clear and well-articulated upfront to my stakeholders so everyone knows I am comfortable taking on any challenge. This way, I am able to stand out as someone that is confident, charming and outcome-oriented. This sets me apart and has helped me transition into very senior roles and engagements.
What is your biggest weakness and how do you try to overcome this?
I can overthink situations that I don’t believe went well. I’ve learnt to frame the situation in the context of whether it will matter in a week or month. If there is long-term impact, I assess whether there is a specific action that I should take, write that on my list and then keep moving forward.
What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever received?
Prioritise the earning potential in a career over everything else. In my experience, peace and joy are far more valuable than any financial recompense.
What piece of career advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Follow your instincts and make it a goal to develop mutually beneficial working relationships.
Zeinab wears our Arlington dress in Cobalt, £119 (right)
Who do you look to for professional guidance?
I have a few mentors who I’ve asked for advice through the years. My husband is a great listener and has the ability to see the bigger picture, which helps me to respond to, rather than react to, difficulties at work.
What is your go-to workwear style?
I use my clothes to speak to my seniority, as I am usually introducing myself to a new group of people with an established hierarchy and with whom I need to build a working relationship. I’m usually the youngest or only female in the room and I’ve found it works in my favour to project professionalism. Libby London tailoring is now the bedrock in my work wardrobe. I have a number of separates, which I style with trend pieces, scarves or classic blouses. I always have a pair of heels at my desk, a fragrance and a scarf in case the air conditioning is too cold.
What’s been your worst office fashion faux pas?
I’ve made so many it’s hard to pick one. My first business trip was three days in Stockholm, but I packed as if I was going on a long-haul flight and had to check in my luggage, much to my colleagues’ disapproval. The following morning, I realised my outfit was crumpled, but couldn’t find an iron in the hotel room. As I was due to join my colleagues for breakfast, I had no choice but to get dressed and hope the creases in my shirt would improve – they didn’t and I was uncomfortable all day. Now I travel for work with a rucksack and up to five looks, because you never know what can happen.
What is your favourite Libby outfit at the moment?
Winchester and Brunswick in Rosehip showed me that pink can be a powerful colour in the office. I’ve worn the suit to meetings and conferences and it is always a conversation starter, for the right reasons.
Zeinab wears our Marlborough dress in Rosehip, £138 (left)
What keeps you busy when you’re not in the office?
Primarily my new project, Dress to Lead –building a serviced-based business has been a steep learning curve. It’s pulled out a new level of resolve that I didn’t know I had and I’m looking forward to seeing the business flourish.
What is your favourite (not so) secret place to spend time in London?
Roka, my favourite restaurant in Canary Wharf, is great for having lunch by myself, just people watching. When I came back to work after maternity leave, it was probably the only time and place where I could eat what I wanted without distraction.
Tell me three bad habits you’ve cut from your routine?
Always assuming that I’ve done something wrong; feeling bad for leaving the office at 5pm; starting the day based on what’s in my inbox.
And three good habits you’ve added to it?
I write a list of things to do at the end of my day; I smile at myself in the mirror while I get ready; I create and prepare five looks for the week on Sunday evening.
If you would like to learn more, please visit my website www.zeinabozigi.com.
Zeinab wears our Radley dress in Navy, £169 (right)
Interview: Lilli Brant
Photographer: Bekky Lonsdale
Accessories: Zeinab's own
Location: One New Change, The City of London