This October at The Fintech Times is all about the incredible women working in the fintech industry. With women still forming only around 30 per cent of the workforce, it’s important to spotlight those who are working to make a change and blazing a path for those to follow. Some influential women in fintech give their advice to aspiring women in the sector.
Having spoken about how women in fintech have been smashing the ‘glass ceiling’, we turn our attention to advice for women looking to do the same. Here Ben Aier, Kriti Rastogi, Rachel Hunt, Elena Volotovskaya and Amanda Bennett share their advice for aspiring women in the fintech industry.
Ben Aier, VP of product at the open banking provider Yapily
Aier spent 16 years in the corporate world before she arrived at Yapily, where she developed skills that she was able to bring to her role in fintech.
For aspiring women in the industry, she advises that it’s never too late to pursue a new initiative.
“Your path is not fixed,” she comments, “focus on what you want to achieve, not just what you want to do. Keep your eyes on what you want to achieve in your career.”
Aier emphasises the importance of identifying personal values and goals, adding that “it can be easy to lose sight of your broader career goals, especially in an industry that moves so quickly.”
She explains how women must establish their own path in the industry.
“Don’t be apprehensive if the road hasn’t been paved for you,” she says.
“It’s the nature of our industry that there are no set routes forward, so it’s okay to be the ‘first’.
“Embrace the fact that you are in an exciting industry, and be unafraid to pioneer something. Just because something hasn’t been done before, it certainly doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.”
Kriti Rastogi, director of the health insurance and benefits platform Plum
For Rastogi, a woman in fintech needs to be the hardest-working person in the room.
“Put in the extra effort to get the job done,” she comments, “you need to be willing to…go the extra mile even when you are feeling unsure or scared.”
“Look out for ways to improve and enhance your knowledge and be better equipped to handle whatever challenges come your way.”
Rastogi sees challenges as opportunities for women in fintech, and she encourages women to embrace these challenges as “the only way to grow and learn is by pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.”
“Do great things before you’re ready,” she continues, “great things happen when you are not afraid to take risks and challenge yourself.
Rastogi emphasises how knowledge is power within such a rapidly-evolving industry. “It’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments,” she says.
“This way, you can be prepared for whatever challenges come your way.”
She also explains the value of building on softer skills like emotional intelligence. “Having strong emotional intelligence can help you in any situation,” she continues.
“This includes being able to manage your own emotions, as well as understanding and empathizing with others.”
Rachel Hunt, VP of strategy and growth at Volante Technologies, provider of cloud payments and financial messaging solutions
Hunt warns women to avoid workplaces that don’t align with their personal ambition. “Don’t stay in an organisation that doesn’t share your values or culture,” she shared. “If it doesn’t provide you with the opportunities you are looking for, don’t wait to change.”
She advises women to learn the skills that are on offer, adding “there are many organisations that will give you the support and challenges you aspire to.
“Every role adds to your experience, but we also need to find a home!”
Hunt continues: “Be yourself and find your voice. In a high growth sector, we all bring a different way of looking at the market or a challenge and this richness spurs innovation.”
Elena Volotovskaya, CEO of the corporate venture fund Softline Venture Partners
Volotovskaya supports many of the views raised by her peers, and she too emphasises the importance of good industry knowledge and insight. “It will give you the opportunity to make informed decisions and keep the conversation going,” she explains.
To do this, Volotovskaya advises aspiring women to monitor the stock market and get used to reading global news about political events, technologies, investments and major deals.
She goes on to explain how these efforts must be backed by a strong personal network of connections, formed at industry conferences, workshops and communities.
“You never know when an acquaintance can become useful,” comments Volotovskaya.
“Women in finance are far more rarely awarded an opportunity to manage processes and make decisions,” she continues. “So it’s important to acknowledge your readiness to accept responsibility for the consequences of your decisions.
“In the beginning, it may be challenging and some people would probably try to discourage you by constantly pointing fingers at your slightest mistakes.
“Don’t let them discourage you, because we learn from our mistakes. Just analyse the situation and move on.”
Amanda Bennett, chief financial officer of the open data platform Moneyhub
“Strive to be the very best version of yourself, challenge the status quo, never accept that you can’t achieve more, believe in yourself and do a great job,” comments Bennett.
“Prove your worth. Don’t accept that there is a glass ceiling, this just makes you feel like you can’t succeed and can become self-defeating.”