Celebrating 50 Years of the CFA Charter

CFA Institute

Maha Marhaba, CFA

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Charterholder since 2008

By the time most CFA candidates begin preparing for the Level III exam they are adept at balancing studying with the demands of work and family.

But what happens when a bomb explodes two floors above a candidate’s apartment? Or fighting erupts in the streets below and the surrounding countryside, and the specter looms of the exam being canceled?

For Maha Marhaba, preparing to take the Level III exam in Beirut, Lebanon, those challenges were more than she’d bargained for. Few CFA candidates have had to endure that kind of stress.

Marhaba was not a novice in war zones. Two years earlier, Israeli airstrikes against paramilitary forces inside Lebanon also had thrown the country into turmoil. To reach her baby, who was with her parents a normal two-hour drive away, Marhaba and a series of cab drivers spent five hours searching for a route around a multitude of blown roads and bridges, risking being targeted themselves.

By 2008, fighting between Lebanese pro-government forces and Hezbollah militants again plunged Beirut and other parts of the country into chaos, exacting a terrible human toll. The prospects were bleak for the CFA exam to proceed as planned but, just in time, the warring parties called a cease-fire.

Lebanon’s Level III exam was held on schedule. Marhaba passed and received her charter, and in a year’s time was promoted to vice president of the Bank Audi asset management department. Soon, she was recruited by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, where she is now Senior Investment Manager.

Having to endure such a harrowing experience was a test of character, but Marhaba feels there is more that sets her apart. It’s the charter. Why?

“It differentiates me as a member of the finance profession,” she notes. “What I like most is that for my last three jobs, I did not have to apply. The jobs came straight to me.”

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