As The Fintech Times celebrates Women in Fintech this September, we take a moment to hear more from some of its leading females. Today, we hear from Barbara Cousins of Flywire.
Barbara, how did you come to join Flywire?
I joined Flywire in January of 2017 as the Chief Information Security and Privacy Officer. Today, I have executive level global responsibility for the strategic development and execution of international risk, security and privacy programs: (i) in response to evolving cyber threats, (ii) to meet business needs, client expectations and legal/regulatory requirements, and (iii) to protect the safety and physical security of Flywire personnel and office facilities.
I became associated with Flywire while I was employed at Fidelity. Fidelity (through Devonshire Investors, its private equity arm) currently holds a board seat at Flywire and is one of many investors. It is through this connection that I became involved with Flywire.
And looking back a little further, can you walk us through your first role in fintech to today?
Security, risk and privacy have always been a passion of mine. I’m lucky to be one of those people you meet that can say they love their job.
I’ve been in the Security, Risk and Privacy space for 25 years. I started my professional career with KPMG U.S. and International as a junior employee. I left KPMG as a Director of IT risk and security and moved to Fidelity Investments in 2009 as the Security Officer for Devonshire Investors. During my time at KPMG and Fidelity, I gained a significant understanding of IT risk, security and privacy matters as well as the general legal and regulatory environments affecting information handling and controls across a broad array of industries i.e., financial services, telecommunications, software development, healthcare, education, technology, energy, life sciences and agriculture.
When I was with KPMG, I assisted in writing the security requirements to connect a large number of entities from numerous countries to one global network. This was no easy task to determine all the security controls that each entity in each country would need to fulfill and to get each entity to agree to the controls before we would allow them to connect to the network. This project really impacted my career and gave me the international experience that few people would get to encounter. It’s that international experience that led me to Fidelity. I was brought on as the Security Officer for a number of small and large domestic and international companies in a number of different industries ranging from a tomato farm in Maine to a telecommunications company in London. It was my career with Fidelity that took me into the fintech space.
In addition, I’ve had the pleasure of managing global teams and working collaboratively in the crisis management space. From evacuating employees during the Tunisian Revolution to advising on safety protocols following the Japan earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster, to navigating COVID-19 for the Flywire workforce in over 12 offices around the world, my ability to calmly and confidently lead has been regularly tested.
Over the course of my years in fintech and across the wide range of industries mentioned above, I’ve encountered few women in the security space, but the ones I’ve come across have always impressed and inspired me.
What’s next for you?
I have advanced my career by working for some great companies and surrounding myself with highly skilled and knowledgeable people. My next career adventure would be to represent Risk, Security and Privacy as a board member of a business. I know these topics are front of mind for responsible businesses as I have presented on them many times to various board members. However, I have yet to come across a company board where a member was fully dedicated as the Risk and Security representative.
I would love to change that.