Conquering male domains as an
International Fintech Lawyer
The vivacious Anna Zeitlin takes you by surprise. After all, one doesn’t really expect a leading international lawyer to be candid and warm, but that is just how Anna is. Combine it with her skill and experience, and it’s easy to understand why she is ruling the twin male domains of finance and law as the Legal Director – Head of Fintech and Financial Services, PwC Legal Middle East.
Currently Based in Dubai, UAE, Anna has had a multicultural career. She’s fluent in French, German, Mandarin and Arabic. Legally qualified in England and Wales, she’s practiced in London and Hong Kong, before finding her way to Dubai. “When I got the opportunity to work in my firm’s Dubai office, I took it up as I had never been to the Middle East before. Years later, in a different job, I’m still here enjoying every moment.”
Since permanently moving to Dubai in 2016, Anna has worked in leading legal spaces with Watson Farley & Williams, Government of Ras Al Khaimah, Eversheds Sutherland, and finally, PwC Legal. “Naturally, there have been challenges. When you move to a new country, there’s always going to be a period of time when you learn about the culture and expectations. It is important to settle, get to know people, and understand the intricacies. People often ask me how difficult it is to be a working woman in the UAE. I don’t believe it is difficult; there are lots of opportunities for women here, and I feel I have been able to excel faster in my career here than I would have been able to back in the UK.”
Regarding support for women in the corporate workspace, she adds, “Frankly speaking, when hiring a new member of staff, you need to choose the best person for a job; be it a man or a woman. We should compete at the same level regardless of gender. That said, diversity should be encouraged. Once you allow it to flourish, it’ll continue to flourish. I work hard to promote diversity and pride myself in having an international team – they all bring something different to the table.”
Anna feels women have not been brought up to speak up for themselves, and that needs to change. “Women need to speak up if they notice any discrimination or unfair treatment. We as women need to come together and support each other. Sadly, I often see women turn against each other in the corporate environment with the hope of getting ahead. There is room for all of us at the top, and if we support each other, all of us will get there.”
Ask Anna her role model, and she says she never had one. She doesn’t believe in idolising people, instead admires good characteristics in the incredible group of women she works with everyday. Beyond hard work, I truly value kindness and compassion. We will all benefit from more of those!
Anna is quick to share she’s no good at personal and professional balance and struggles to switch off. Yet, she makes up for that weakness by being kind and reasonable; both important qualities according to her. This ability to connect with her clients has not only won Anna their trust, but also international recognition.
A true blue lawyer, her passion is stirred by her curiosity about most things. “Anything that provokes a thought, conversation or dialogue, I find interesting. I love learning more and exploring things in great detail, especially when someone has a different opinion to me and we can debate different ideas. You learn so much in the process.”
Physically though, Anna is a total outdoor freak. She loves her travel, rides a motorbike, and spends her weekends playing sports and going hiking. Her mantra? Work hard, play hard.
As a woman in a corporate leadership position, there are many girls who aspire to reach where Anna is. Signing off with a message for them all, she says, “I think we need to stop thinking that there is a difference in capability between men and women. We need to wipe that out in fact. Women are just as capable, and can often bring a different – but equally important – skill set to the table. That’s the message I live by.”