Megan Caywood’s meteoric rise has seen her assume senior positions at Xero, Starling Bank and now Barclays, where she became Head of Digital Strategy in January this year. Caywood has also just been named among the Top 100 Women in Fintech.
With diversity of “board composition” now rated as a top priority for 82% of institutional investors, we wanted to find out what Barclays‘ newest managing director thinks about the state of the sector.
However, the first question we asked was;
How does it feel to be named in such prestigious company?
I’m honoured to be included in this list alongside such impressive women, many of which I know well and call friends. One of which is my good friend Emma Margetts, who I met when I first moved to London
years ago. She was just founding Alpha Exchange at the time and I had just joined Starling as a co-founder. It’s such a risk to start a company and while you hope you’re a big success, it’s not guaranteed.
Building a new company from scratch is hard work, and it takes a team of people and a bit of luck for it all to come together. Seeing how she built Alpha Exchange and led it through successful build to acquisition was so inspiring. I’m a big believer in surrounding yourself with people who inspire you and who you want to become more like, and Emma is definitely that for me! She’s incredible.
Back in those early days it was nearly impossible for us to find time to get together sometimes though because we were constantly working, both intensely focused on our respective start-ups such that sometimes it didn’t leave much time for anything else, so it feels really good for all of that hard work to have paid off and to now be recognised in these lists together. Over the years I’ve also come to know Ghela, Claire, Louise and others in the list as well and I’m continually impressed by them and am honoured to be listed among them as a top woman in fintech! High praise indeed.
Building a new company from scratch is hard work, and it takes a team of people and a bit of luck for it all to come together.
To what extent does fintech operate on a level playing field? Would you say that the space has equality of opportunity?
Not yet, but what I love about the UK fintech community is that so many of the fintech leaders I know passionately care about diversity and are actively working to promote it and enable it in their organisations and in the ecosystem.
Personally, working with Anne Boden was such a privilege, and seeing her intentionality in building a diverse team and not accepting excuses like “not enough female applicants” was impressive and something I won’t soon forget.
The fact is that there are still fewer women in tech positions, in senior positions, on boards, etc and female founders still have a tougher time raising venture capital. That’s just the reality. Simply wishing for greater equality won’t change that – we have to take a note from Anne Boden and be proactive about building diversity in our businesses, it won’t just magically happen because we want it to.
Anne Boden was such a privilege, and seeing her intentionality in building a diverse team and not accepting excuses like “not enough female applicants”
If you had to single out just one of your colleagues from the list for the exemplary work they’ve done in the past year, who would it be and why?
Louise Beaumont. That woman is a powerhouse, and such a great advocate for women. I recall we were at the Rose Review Roundtable (Alison Rose of RBS’ study on how to increase diversity in businesses) last December and noting that she just never ceases to amaze me at what a great champion she is for women – helping to identify barriers and knock them down, helping to shine a light on inequalities and being willing to speak up.
Speaking up isn’t always easy, but I’m not sure Louise has ever had that problem! She’s brilliant and articulate and I applaud her for her work in fintech and ability to continually break through barriers in finance and tech and for women.
What measures need to be put in place at a governmental level to quicken the glacial pace of change?
A number of things could be done – I think the Rose Review by Alison Rose articulates a number of great options (which is certainly worth reading), namely:
1.) focusing on increasing funding towards female entrepreneurs through tracking of public funding allocated to women and having funding dedicated towards majority women-owned businesses, perhaps through a specific new investment vehicle to increase funding going to female entrepreneurs and
2.) Providing greater family care support for female entrepreneurs. There is also already the Women in Finance Charter, which is worth noting as it’s a great step in the direction of motivating companies to have quotas for their diversity, even though signing up the Charter is voluntary.