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 Yuliya Tarasava, Chanelle Pattinson, Meeri Savolainen, Jennifer Philo, and Teresa Byrne, as they share how they are championing women in the fintech industry.
Yuliya Tarasava, COO and co-founder, CNote
“Failure and success are different sides of the same coin. Life—and especially the lives of those of us who are on an entrepreneurial journey—will always be a mix of ups and downs. You can’t change it, you can’t fight it, so you’d better surrender to it. That’s my perspective, and I tend to look at the ‘downs” as lessons. It’s not always easy, but it gives me a different approach to life and business, allowing me to be more present and more alert.
“Value people. We want our team members to grow personally and professionally while they are at CNote. They are working diligently to contribute to the company’s vision and mission, so it’s important that they are benefiting beyond the paycheck.
“I am a big believer that people need to help themselves before they are capable of helping others. So with each member of our team, we have a conversation about where they aim to be personally and professionally and how their role and their responsibilities at CNote can help them get there.”
Chanelle Pattinson, co-founder and chartered financial planner, Money Means
“I created and host the ‘Her Future Bright’ podcast where I interview inspiring women in finance/fintech. We discuss their career, achievements, and struggles. I wanted to create this platform for women to tell their story, to encourage more women into the world of finance/fintech and support women already in finance/fintech.”
Meeri Savolainen, founder and CEO, INZMO
“I’m massively committed to gender diversity and really proud of the fact that my startup has a 60:40 female/male split. In fact, six of the nine senior leadership positions are held by women. Our gender-balanced business has helped us appeal to a strong number of exceptionally talented female candidates who want to work with us because of the number of women already at the organisation, and who occupy the most senior positions.
“Increasing the representation of senior women in our field is crucial towards accelerating the pace of change for gender equality. A more diverse business is a more productive and innovative one. However, we know that to improve the gender balance requires more than just attracting female talent but focusing also on retention and promotion strategies. We actively celebrate the female leaders in our business and we have clearly defined career development and support programmes.”
Jennifer Philo, head of global brands, Blackhawk Network
“I’m incredibly fortunate that at my company there are many women in leadership roles who are supportive of each other—and it starts at the top. Our CEO and president Talbott Roche is the epitome of a true leader. She has been my executive sponsor since my first day at Blackhawk Network, taking my calls, talking me through challenges and helping me ideate to get through roadblocks, seek out new solutions, and pivot strategies as needed.
“I try to emulate her and be that kind of resource for others. In addition to soliciting Talbott’s insights, I also reach out to my team members and peers for new opinions and fresh eyes—which is particularly helpful when someone new joins Blackhawk and doesn’t have any pre-existing thoughts or opinions about what we do or how we do it.”
Teresa Byrne, chief commercial officer, DivideBuy
“My own challenges along the way have given me first-hand insights into the obstacles women in fintech face. I moved into fintech 12 months ago after a corporate career. I love the speed and excitement fintech brings, whether that’s decision-making, delivering innovation, or getting things done quickly without red tape. No two days are the same, and as a working mum with twins, I’m excellent at spinning plates – a very useful skill in fintech.
“We had a big recruitment drive this year- with hardly any females applicants. So we adjusted our process. Throughout, I share my experiences and ensure women feel comfortable asking questions – especially about being a working mum. I help them find roles where they’ll achieve their professional and personal goals.
“Our last two hires were female, so we’re seeing results – but I won’t stop there. We’re reviewing policies to create a work environment where women can thrive. I’m also collaborating with other women in fintech on new initiatives – from encouraging women into fintech careers at apprenticeship and graduate level, to creating networks where women already in the industry share challenges and solutions with each other. I’m keen to hear their views and take action for change.”