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.
Here we speak to Linda Middleditch, Nabanita Roy, Camila Key Saruhashi, Shelba Murphy, Qian Liu and Emily Whalley to find out how they’re smashing the glass ceiling.
Linda Middleditch, chief product officer, Regnology, a provider of compliance technology
“I started my career at investment banks, including Citi and Morgan Stanley, where I developed technology strategies for products in the equity and derivatives spaces. With a well-established passion for product management, over time I realised I could do really interesting work on the vendor side and still interact with all the key Investment banks instead of working purely within one. This is what prompted my move to the fintech space, and I haven’t looked back.
“Working in a product role at a fintech you are building revenue for the company – whereas in banking the function can be viewed as a cost. This makes fintech an industry where you can be more impactful to the business and are given more freedom to innovate.
“There is also more space to be creative at a fintech since the nature of the industry is one of ‘test and learn.’ This fosters an environment of thinking broadly and implementing ideas more quickly without a fear of failure inhibiting progress. This is beneficial from a product development standpoint as well as in relation to career development. I think particularly as women, we can be afraid to fail or put ourselves forward for certain roles. But I have found that the test and learn culture within fintech can be helpful to challenge and overcome that mindset, which allows talent to thrive.”
Nabanita Roy, data scientist at real-time payments solutions provider, ACI Worldwide
“I was first drawn to fintech whilst working on my thesis where I researched the stock market movements and how they related to political conversations on social and print media. I had to review and organise the data, from political news and conversations, and correlate these to stock market movements to understand if they had any influence on the instability of stocks.
“This project is really what sparked my interested. I started learning about detecting fraud, the dark web, clustering user behaviour and how technology is outsmarting fraudsters. It was the best of both worlds – I was able to work on the fin and also the tech side! After completing my thesis, I got my first job in fintech at Fiserv, as a data scientist working on fraud detection solutions. My second job in fintech was at ACI Worldwide, where I still am today.”
Camila Key Saruhashi, a principal at VC, QED Investors
“No one dreams about working in fintech, but many kids live through the challenges of poor financial services and know there has to be a better way. I was one of those kids.
“Raised in a middle-class family in Brazil, a country with 30 million underbanked adults, I experienced first-hand the challenges of living in a developing country with inadequate financial products.
“My family used credit cards without fully understanding their implications. My dad owned a small retail shop that struggled with working capital. These weren’t hypothetical problems. They were real problems with real impacts on my family. Big banks had no incentive to change – incumbents were pushy, they lacked transparency and their terms were borderline abusive.
“My passion for solving these problems led me to Endeavor, a mission-driven nonprofit for high-impact entrepreneurs, and to a VC firm that showed me that startups can be an engine for change. Working at Nubank, one of the world’s largest digital banks, and Earnin, one of the first companies giving early access to paychecks, only reinforced fintech’s incredible potential.
“Ending up in fintech was the result of wanting to solve big problems rooted in my personal story. Today at QED Investors, I’m proud to back great founders who are disrupting financial services and making a real difference in the lives of hundreds of millions of people.”
Shelba Murphy, senior VP of sales at Veritran, providers of an enterprise Low-Code platform
“I started my career more than 20 years ago at a community bank, where I supported technology transformation and implementation. Since then, I worked with SaaS providers, credit unions, and more. I have always been passionate about helping and empowering financial institutions to provide an elevated customer experience and innovate more quickly. Although I didn’t know I’d end up in fintech, it was a logical next step based on my prior work experience and interests!”
Qian Liu, Chief Data Officer of 401(k) plan provider, Guideline
“I was one of the many workers whose collective contribution shaped the creation of “fintech” as an industry a decade ago. My fintech career started with Wealthfront, where I developed automated investment algorithms. Then I ran the data team at GoFundMe. If Wealthfront and GoFundMe were old generation, Guideline is new generation fintech. I am the Chief Data Officer at Guideline, where we are addressing the retirement access gap that limits small businesses from offering these critical benefits to their employees. In my role, I get to dive deeper into behavioural trends and analytics, which shapes the way we build this new generation of fintech.”
Emily Whalley is a Senior Travel Specialist at payment orchestrator BR-DGE
“My career journey into fintech and payments at BR-DGE wasn’t via the conventional route.
“I grew up at the end of the flight path at Gatwick so there was an inevitability that I would start my career working at the airport. From the start of my travel career when I worked in customer service and sales, I was excited to work with passengers, supporting them on their journey and ensuring they received a first-class experience wherever their destinations. Throughout 20 years working in travel and technology for the likes of Continental Airlines and Travelport, I was fortunate to have some amazing experiences working with incredible colleagues who demonstrated the best attributes of the travel industry.
“Like many in the travel sector, the pandemic was a turning point in my career. I was keen to leverage my travel knowledge and network but was also looking for a new challenge. An appealing opportunity at payment orchestrator BR-DGE arose to lead their entry into the travel sector. I had seen first-hand how fragmented payment systems were creating a real challenge for travel providers and passengers. The team at BR-DGE are actively working to solve these day-to-day issues for merchants and I knew I had a lot to add in this area. It was an opportunity too good to miss.
“My career route into fintech has enabled me to combine my passion for travel, problem solving, and innovation. Highly driven and open-minded, I have always relished a new challenge – fintech is my latest.”