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 Lindsay Ross, Helen Owen, Jennifer Dimenna, Amanda Bennett, and Hiral Desai, as they share their career journeys and whether they expected to end up in fintech.
Lindsay Ross, CHRO at Bitpanda
While fintechs are something that I’ve always had a bias toward, when I was approached for the role of CHRO at Bitpanda, I had all my focus and energy invested in my previous position at Messagebird, an omnichannel communications platform as a service.
Going ‘way’ back, I started my career as an ‘integrated talent management specialist’ at Nike before heading off to do both people and communications roles in PVH (Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein).
My first real taste of fintech came at Ayden, where I gained hands-on experience of what it takes to go from start-up to a multi-billion dollar behemoth — fast — while working with founders. Ultimately, my decision to switch to Austria’s first unicorn, Bitpanda, was really sealed after I spoke with Paul and Eric (Bitpanda’s founders and CEOs).
I was so incredibly impressed not only with the fantastic product that Bitpanda offers in such an innovative industry — that makes investing simple and accessible to everyone — but also with the very inclusive people-first culture that’s fostered here.
Helen Owen, VP of marketing at Tribe Payments
I fell into fintech before fintech was even a term. Over fifteen years ago I was head hunted for a role at First Data to lead marketing and communications for their UK business.
Back then it was very much an industry focused on cards, acquiring and on traditional banking – a bit dry and dull to be perfectly honest – until I found the real potential of technology in areas like fraud detection and that’s where I started to get really interested in what was later to be called ‘fintech’.
After a few years at First Data in a regional director role, I set myself up as a freelance marketing consultant, focused on payments and fintech. I was really privileged to work with around 20 different fintechs and some really amazing people in my nine years of consultancy work. Some just needed extra support with their content marketing, some needed a fractional marketing leader, so what I did with each company varied a lot.
I was very lucky to work in quite a few different pockets of fintech, and it’s turned me into a bona fide fintech geek. I still learn something new or hear of a new company or new initiative every day, and I love that about this industry.
Jennifer Dimenna, SVP of product at Apiture
When I graduated from college with a degree in technical communication, I took a job at a small software company documenting the software they were producing to help banks streamline their wire payment processes.
In 1997, I didn’t know I was entering a burgeoning industry that would later be called fintech. Over the years, I advanced from documenting the software to designing requirements, to leading teams of product managers, whose job it was to understand the problems financial institutions are experiencing and devise creative digital solutions to those problems.
When I began in fintech, I was often the only woman in the room. But throughout my career, women have increasingly been responsible for defining, designing, and building digital banking software. Women’s growing recognition that a career in tech is a viable and interesting option means that I get to spend a lot of time with smart, talented women who are excited about fintech.
Amanda Bennett, chief financial officer, Moneyhub
I have always had an interest in the financial services sector and it was part of my role whilst in the accountancy practices.
I started my career in 1982 as a chartered accountant trainee and then moved to an industry with roles in manufacturing (Dyson) before returning to the accountancy profession, specialising in Taxation and running teams across four offices, I then became Group FD.
I started my consultancy practice in 2011, acting as interim/part-time FD and MD in various sectors including recruitment, engineering and manufacturing before joining Moneyhub in 2019.”
Hiral Desai, head of marketing at DriveWealth
“When I was younger, I dreamed of becoming a lawyer – partly because my parents told me I was argumentative. As time went on, I discovered my love of problem-solving, so the compromise for my family was engineering.
“In college, I studied to be an engineer. When it came time to graduate, I went on a practice interview for a financial firm, and that’s when my fintech journey began.
“That interview led to networking opportunities – and before I knew it, I was in a product management role for a technology solution. I’ll be honest – I wasn’t looking for a career in technology. I just wanted to learn something new and challenge myself. I took the chance.
“What surprised me was how fintech allowed me to put all the pieces together – from my love of puzzles, my engineering background, and my need to engage in complex debates, it was like I had found a new passion.
“Careers are journeys – you travel from one place to another. In my career so far, I’ve been a relationship manager, a product manager, sales support, and now a marketing leader. I don’t know what’s next, I just know I’m excited to find out.”