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Executive MBA (EMBA) alumna Khayala Eylazova’s leadership in diversity, equity and inclusion in finance, insurance and technology has been recognised by award.

Khayala Eylazova.

Khayala Eylazova (EMBA 2014) has won the Advocate of the Year award at the Women in Finance Award Series 2020. The award recognises leadership in driving diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the finance, insurance and technology sectors.

Khayala’s passion for advocacy has seen her use her platform as Senior Manager at PwC UK Financial Services to co-lead the firm’s DEI initiatives. She founded PwC’s Women in Insurance network and programme, the objectives of which are to improve access to working in the sectors and support the professional development and progression of women in the UK. Outside of her work at PwC, Khayala also supports the drive for DEI in insurance and work through initiatives and leadership centres, including at the University of Cambridge and University of Oxford.

On receiving the award, Khayala says, “I am driven by a vision to make insurance and technology a more attractive and inclusive working environment that represents women playing an equal part in creating the products and services that are shaping the world. Insurance is a people business and if the profession is not representative of society then it will relate less to customers and their needs.”

Throughout her career at PwC UK, Khayala has led the delivery of several strategic initiatives and growth areas, serving clients across all lines and services in insurance. She has co-authored a number of thought leadership papers and provided coaching and mentoring. She also regularly delivers keynote speeches and contributes to panels on topics including insurance & technology, innovation, women in leadership and talent development.

On the role the Cambridge Executive MBA has played in enabling her to pursue her ambitions, Khayala says, “A whole new world opened up to me once I started the EMBA. I saw the world full of endless opportunities, and my business education equipped me to go after them fearlessly.”

After graduating from the programme, Khayala, who lives and works in London, transitioned from a successful career at one the world’s largest technology firms to professional services, with a focus on insurance. This was a decision made whilst on the programme, she says.

“Coming into financial services for the first time, I quickly realised how lonely it can be for us women, and even more so when you are from a different ethnic background to many others,” says Khayala, who was born and raised in Baku, Azerbaijan.

“My education at Cambridge helped me regain my confidence and expanded my horizons. It also introduced me to many brilliant female leaders in the industry who are no afraid to challenge the status quo.”

Khayala is keen to highlight that more work needs to be done to open doors and retain women in the technology and insurance sectors.

“We are still on a journey and each of us has a role to play in shaping the future. With the right encouragement and initiatives, we can be at the vanguard of attracting and retaining diversity in talent. I believe with the right retention, promotion and return-to-work strategies for women after maternity leave, we can continue to attract diverse female talent to the sectors, and increase the representation of female talent in boardrooms, the C-suite and leadership roles.”