[100 Emerging Women Leaders] Meet the investment banker who did not let her visual impairment be a roadblock to success

By Nikita Bameta
August 31, 2022, Updated on : Sat Sep 03 2022 07:41:16 GMT+0000
Shalini Menon is a legally blind investment banker at BMO Capital Markets. In a conversation with HerStory, Shalini talks about her journey from India to becoming an investment banker in the US.
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Many things stand out about Shalini Menon—a financial engineer, a student of mathematics, science, technology, and finance. Remarkably, Shalini didn't allow her visual impairment to hinder her from doing it all. 


At present, Shalini works at BMO Capital Markets. Her job involves risk analysis of the financial health of corporate companies before her company invests in them.  


She grew up in India and moved to the US right after high school, continuing her higher education there. 


Delving into her educational journey, Shalini shares, “I don’t think there are enough resources around the world to help blind people to study STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths), neither are they encouraged to study them because it is believed these subjects are very visual.” 


Akin to how most other visually impaired individuals are treated, Shalini was asked to stop pursuing her studies because of her disability at various points in her life. However, her family’s support helped her overcome these hardships. 


Shalini speaks about how her mother’s constant efforts at enabling equal and more accessible educational opportunities for her - helped her continue her education and eventually honed her interest in maths and science. 

She pursued advanced maths and science classes in high school, further taking up maths for her undergraduate degree and opting for computer science and financial engineering as a part of her master’s programme. 


Reflecting on moving to the US to complete her master's, Shalini says, “In the US, there are certain laws that ensure no educational institution or workplace denies entry to people with a physical disability; this was why I moved to the US.”


Different phases of Shalini’s life exposed her to opportunities in learning maths, science, finance, and technology, and as a dedicated individual, she let go of none.  

Working her way through and gradually gaining experience in all four fields, she realised her liking for investment banking and chose to stick with it. 


However, biases found their way to Shalini. She says, “Bias exists everywhere. In India, it was my blindness. Here, in the finance and corporate world, the bias is related to me being a woman. Also, in the US, I am in the minority due to my ethnic background.”


She adds, “Because of my supportive family network, I have always felt like doing whatever I want to do, I do not feel like people can stop me from achieving my goals, and that’s a good mentality to have.”


Despite facing challenging situations at different points and circumstances, Shalini never gave up. The young professional believes that one can achieve anything one wants to. 


As she credits her success to her spirit and supporting network, she adds, “Maintaining an internal strength and finding people that will mentor, guide, and support you is incredibly important.”


Edited by Suman Singh