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 Kriti Rastogi, Ben Aier, Ashley Aydin, Annabelle Thomas and Bronwyn Boyle, as they share how they are smashing the glass ceiling.
Kriti Rastogi, director at Plum, an Indian employee health insurance platform
“When I see women like Melanie Perkins, Sonia Syngal, and Cynthia Marshall rising to the top of traditional male-dominated industries like technology, multinational retail, and sports, it feels like the future is brimming with opportunities for women in leadership. Indeed, the arrival of women in positions of power is frequently greeted with great enthusiasm by the media, politicians, and business experts, who interpret their presence as a sign that the glass ceiling has finally been broken and the path to leadership is now clear for all women.
“I believe that to achieve great things, one requires a right mind-set. Above that, here are few of things that helped me achieve a leadership position in India’s fast growing insurtech company.
- Strong relationships with co-workers in leadership positions can lead to new opportunities.
- It is critical to advocate for yourself and speak up about your experiences in order to conquer the invisible barriers that exist.
- Creating a culture of diversity and inclusion at your workplace can be beneficial for everyone.
- Learning how to rebound from setbacks is an important skill to have.
- Building a network of people you can learn from can be helpful in furthering your career.
- Showing your work to others can help you get feedback and improve your skills.
- Practice giving and receiving feedback in order to improve your communication skills.
- Forget about ‘having it all’ and focus on what is most important to you.
“India is at the forefront of a global fintech revolution. Today, the burgeoning Indian fintech ecosystem is the third largest in the world, after the US and China. Women leaders in the fintech sector who have not just charted out their unique paths but also proven that gender stereotypes exist only in the mind – never in action.”
Ben Aier, VP product at open banking infrastructure platform, Yapily
“My job is all about leading diverse and dynamic teams, exploring new ideas, and building products that power a better financial future. In this way, breaking the glass ceiling has been a natural by-product of my role as a leader.
“Inclusion is at the heart of every role at Yapily and as someone in a senior leadership position, my role enables me to explore my passion for mentoring talent, fostering teamwork, and growing relationships across the industry.
“I’m grateful to be surrounded by other senior women who are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the world of fintech. For the first time in my 16 years working within financial services, a large portion of my cohort of peers are women.
“Specifically, leadership and mentoring are a key focus of mine at the moment. There’s still much work to be done on gender, ethnic, and social diversity in this industry. We cannot afford to lose sight of all the ways in which diverse backgrounds are important – contributing to the culture of a workplace, as well as the quality of output.
“Now, my next challenge is supporting my colleagues in breaking those barriers. As a leader, I feel responsible to pass on the opportunities that were given to me. It’s important to remember that the best people in an organisation don’t rise to the top by magic – top talent needs nurturing. Advocacy, mentorship, and support matter. Opportunities matter. I’m focused on continuous and conscious support for all our team members.
“Over the course of my career, I have learnt that good mentorship doesn’t mean conveying soundbites or snappy advice to those I manage. It means listening, and showing up for your people. I haven’t always had mentors who looked like me, or had the same background as mine, but my best mentors showed me empathy and genuine understanding, and that’s something I’m keen to pass on.”
Ashley Aydin, principal investor for VC, VamosVentures
“There aren’t many Puerto Rican, Turkish, first gen, women investors out here in the VC space covering fintech. Smashing the glass ceiling to me is breaking into this space and offering a unique perspective from lived experience. I want to show that diversity in background and experiences on investment and founding teams is necessary. Some of us know some problems – such as what it means to save and pay for things as an immigrant child – more intimately than others. We therefore potentially have a better eye for what solutions will win over others.”
Annabelle Thomas, customer support manager at open banking payments company, Token.io
“I’ve been fortunate to have spent the majority of my career working in start-ups with flat hierarchies, where my gender did not have an impact on how my contributions were evaluated and, in turn, how my career developed.
“However, I have, of course, experienced barriers. Because of my positive experiences (and therefore my idea of the norm), I was able to recognise when something did not feel right. In most situations, I have felt comfortable raising concerns to HR / the CEO directly and my concerns have been listened to and acted upon. My advice would be to speak up and follow up on progress.
“That said, I recognise that not everyone has had positive experiences to set as their “norm” in the first place. I also appreciate that not everyone is able to comfortably raise concerns with someone within their company, let alone have them acted upon quickly.
“Ultimately, the onus should not be on women (or anyone affected by the glass ceiling) to raise their concerns and “push through”. Ideally, it should be the company’s responsibility to create positive and equal environments in the first place. In my opinion, the key to establishing this is having diverse leaders at c-suite level.
“The good news is that things are improving for the better; many companies are highly committed to gender diversity. However, there’s still a long way to go! (For example, female founders secured only 2% of venture capital in the US in 2021!)”
Bronwyn Boyle, chief information security officer at Mambu, a cloud banking platform
“With over 20 years of experience in the sector, I’m well aware that technology still has a bit of that “bro culture” in many areas, and it can be a lonely space for women forging a path if they are the only voice in the room.
“I know this feeling all too well, as I have been the only woman in the room at earlier points during my career, and struggled to make my voice heard. I overcame this by actively seeking out inspiring female role models and by getting involved in female networking communities that shared similar aspirations and values. I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with some amazing and formidable talented women, and over time I’ve learned to silence the “imposter syndrome” voice, and speak up to create psychologically safe spaces that encourage contributions from all individuals.
At Mambu, we’re committed to creating a culture where everyone belongs. We believe in full-spectrum diversity, inclusive of gender, ethnicity, orientation, ability, nationality, religion, background, and culture.”