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Simona Stankovska
Global Head of Public Relations
by Jake Liban Pezzack

From an early age, Simona Stankovska demonstrated an acute interest in press and media affairs. "When I was 14, my English teacher told me that I'd be a journalist when I grew up. She was eager to tap into that potential. She thought I possessed a unique style."

Despite the encouragement, Simona didn't envisage a future in journalism. Her cynicism largely stemmed from a dislike of the British tabloids: lurid publications that peddled garish stories of scandal and sleaze. "Trashy, sensationalist rubbish," she quips. "My whole idea of journalism was informed by the papers my father read. Reportage in certain publications left a lot to be desired."

Opting to pursue a career within the fashion industry, Simona's plans were abridged when she discovered she was allergic to certain fabric dyes. "Unfortunately, my dreams of vogue runways were short-lived, so I decided to reconnect with my teenage passions, and began my journalism training in Central London."

Graduating in 2007, Simona landed a job at a rubber and plastics magazine just before the crash. As the industry slowly started to rebuild, she moved into the Financial sector. Working within the sphere of Private Wealth Management for two years, Stankovska used her skills to land an impressive role at The Financial Times in early 2011. She was only 23.
"It was a monumental achievement. I proved a lot to myself when FT hired me. As hackneyed as it sounds, hard work really does pay off."

Going freelance in 2014, Simona cherished her new-found autonomy and control, and soon, she was working exclusively within the field of Public Relations. "In PR, being a former journalist really helps you get ahead. You already have an established selection of contacts in your network, and that proves invaluable."

Simona's expertise soon meant that she was hired as Head of Communications for iam Bank, a digital challenger institution based in the English capital. From here, she worked out in Chicago for two years before returning to the UK. She rekindled her freelance work before EXANTE scouted her in November 2019.

Simona has served as EXANTE's Global Head of PR for the past two years.
How do you feel EXANTE champions and supports their female employees?
I feel equal, I feel respected, and I feel like I matter. I am constantly inspired by the strong, powerful women who hold the leading roles in this company. I aspire to be like them. I work with so many talented ladies, and I'm so lucky for that. My growth is consistently supported and encouraged by everyone I work with.
Tell us more about your current role. What excites you most about working for EXANTE?
Put simply, I love my job! It varies day-to-day and there are different challenges, but I love the ethos here. Running our global PR is a gargantuan task. I have to understand and dissect the markets, know what's relevant, and try to find inroads for EXANTE. In some areas of the world, the company is still relatively unknown. Luckily, I have broad shoulders, so I carry the load! I love building contacts, so PR is the ideal world for me. It allows me to combine all of my passions.
Is there a particular accomplishment you've been most proud of?
Last year, we came highly commended at the FT Adviser Diversity awards. That was a big accomplishment for us. I'm proud that we've managed to bolster our coverage throughout the year without breaking the bank. We've appeared in The Financial Times, The Independent, The Telegraph and Bloomberg, to name but a few.

On an individual level, I set up my own charity in 2018 whilst working a full-time job. I've endeavoured to use my experience to try make a positive difference, and that's something I take immense satisfaction in.
How do you think we can incentivise more women to pursue careers in the FinTech sector?
We need to lead by example. We need to demonstrate how exciting it is to work in FinTech. The opportunities are waiting. There are lots of resilient women who are making a tangible difference.
What have been some of the most challenging aspects of your career? How did you surmount those obstacles?
Beginning my freelance work in 2014 was a huge undertaking. On a personal level, I had a stroke in July 2015, and later learned that I had a brain tumour. Trying to make ends meet whilst struggling to string sentences together was really hard. I also had a responsibility to my clients, and I didn't want to let them down. Luckily, I overcame those adversities by writing. I made it through, and the whole ordeal helped me realise how strong and robust I am.
Who or what has been the principal guiding force in your work life?
My mother. She's strong, independent and successful. She's been an unwavering source of inspiration throughout my life, demonstrating that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. I carry that sense of fearlessness always. She's also very competitive and stubborn. In essence, I think I've turned out just like her!
Who are some of your heroes?
My mother, of course. My great grandmother Betty Woodin, who was always a mentor and a friend. My grandfather, who always had a smile on his face. He was the life and soul of his neighbourhood. And the members of my charity, who face daily hardships in dealing with their condition, yet always choose to retain a sense of positivity and support for one another.
What is something that people usually get wrong about you?
Because of my surname, everyone thinks I'm Polish or Romanian. When they hear me speak, they think I'm English. I was actually born in Macedonia. Both my parents are Macedonian, and the language is my mother tongue. I moved to the UK when I was 18 months old.

I love football. I've been a Manchester United season ticket holder for 13 years. I also trained to be an actress/singer when I was little, but later decided that the career was far too stressful!
What advice would you give to ambitious young women starting out in their careers?
Dream big and make it happen. Anything is possible. If you know what you want, set your goals and work towards them. It may take one year; it may take 10. It doesn't matter. The most important thing is to be working towards something you want. Things may change along the way, so be prepared to pivot and start again if your dreams change. It's never too late. The most important step is always the first.