Women in Fintech
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Women in Fintech Career Journeys with Token.io, Ozone API, Trovata, Mollie and Plaid

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 Annabelle Thomas, Katie Hayes, Lisa Gutu, Jordan Owen, Ripsy Bandourian, as they share their career journeys and whether they expected to end up in fintech.

Annabelle Thomas, customer support manager, Token.io
Annabelle Thomas, customer support manager, Token.io
Annabelle Thomas, customer support manager, Token.io

“I always thought I’d pursue a career in Psychology since this is what I studied at University. It may at first sound unrelated to working in fintech / Customer Support. However, there are many overlaps. 

“After completing my MSc in Forensic Psychology, I was really interested in financial crime and started working for Loot Financial Services as a fincrime analyst. I loved the role but felt that I was missing out on the positive interactions we were having with customers.

“I moved to Australia shortly afterwards and had a brief stint as a tomato farmer (for visa purposes!). After this, I started working for digital bank Xinja, where customer support was a top priority. I thoroughly enjoyed the role and learned the power that great support can have. After Xinja, I worked as a consultant at various fintech companies in Australia with goals of democratising trading/investing. I get a lot of satisfaction making complex topics (that often come with a lot of industry jargon) clear, simple and therefore accessible for customers. 

“I love working specifically in fintech as it’s fast-paced and exciting. Now back in the UK, my current challenge is tackling the world of open banking payments with Token!”

Katie Hayes, head of marketing, Ozone API
Katie Hayes Ozone
Katie Hayes, Head of Marketing, Ozone API

“If you’d told me as a Journalism student at Rhodes University in South Africa that I’d work in fintech, I’d probably say: “Really? That sounds cool but what is fintech?”

“I was a graphic designer for magazines and then secured a scholarship to complete a Post-graduate Diploma in Media Management. This enabled me to secure marketing roles in brand and digital marketing teams.

“During a varied career, I specialised in digital marketing across multiple industry sectors including tech, finance, FMCG, fashion, print journalism, education, travel, and health.

“Before moving to London, my last role in South Africa was Head of Marketing & Sourcing at a non-profit organisation called WeThinkCode_, which was my first taste of fintech. I worked with financial services and technology companies that sponsored students’ two-year, tuition-free software engineering courses and offered them employment opportunities upon graduation. I co-founded the WomenThinkCode_ community to support women entering the tech sector after seeing many drop out of the selection bootcamps for socio-economic reasons.

“Every step in my career journey has led me to this point. The open data economy is in its infancy. I’m excited to see how fintech evolves and look forward to the gender ratio balancing out.”

Lisa Gutu, VP of business development, Trovata
Trovata
Lisa Gutu, VP of business development, Trovata

“My education years were about volunteering in various green movements so I didn’t expect to end up in fintech.

“I helped organise summer schools for kids coming from rural areas and lead programmes about freedom of speech, critical thinking, open source technologies, gender equality and environmental issues so I thought I would end up working for a non-profit organisation or a green political party fighting for causes I believe in.

“But life is unpredictable and I am still being able to contribute to these, just in a different way.

“During a hackathon, while still at university, I wanted to create a robo-advisor that can help students and first-time professionals manage their finance better and auto-save for their next big thing. 

“This was my first entry into the entrepreneurial world with a two year journey that included many failures along the way. I continued my career in an open banking fintech startup, beginning as the technical customer service and ending up as a chief operating officer seven years later.

“Now I’m VP of business development at Trovata.io and continue to shape the future of finance and disrupt one of the most conservative industries in the world.”

Jordan Owen, head of UK sales & country manager at Mollie

“This wasn’t part of a master plan! I studied English literature at University and so fintech isn’t exactly the most natural next step! I began working for a property investment firm which led to a client-facing role at Worldpay (now FIS).

“I got into payments largely because I realised there were two things I really enjoyed: building relationships and working in a fast-paced industry. Both of those remain true today. The atmosphere at Worldpay was one of high energy and performance; that’s where I’ve always worked best. I then spent five years at Barclaycard doing a variety of roles, moving into leadership for our SME team. The decision to move to Mollie was led by gut more than anything else.

“They have a great product, a super competent leader who I had known from Worldpay, and ambitious plans to level the playing field for small- and medium-sized ecommerce merchants by offering effortless financial services that power its customers’ growth. The space to create and build something from scratch in the UK massively appealed to me.

“I can’t see myself leaving Fintech anytime soon; it’s far too much fun and I never stop learning.”

Ripsy Bandourian, head of Europe, Plaid
Ripsy Bandourian, Head of Europe, Plaid
Ripsy Bandourian, Head of Europe, Plaid

“Today, I’m the head of Europe for Plaid, helping companies across the region make sense of open banking and how it can drive adoption of products and services, as consumers and the businesses that serve them increasingly turn to digital financial tools. But, my journey to fintech has been somewhat unconventional.

“I’m from Armenia and went to the US for university and my career began at Goldman Sachs in New York after I studied Molecular Biology and Econometrics. Eventually, that led me to studying an MBA at Harvard University before starting at McKinsey in London. Through these initial years of my career, I worked on digging into data and using it to either drive investment strategies or make strategic and operational decisions.

“After honing my core skill set, I got more and more opportunities to build and lead great products, go deep on platform and marketplace business models, and the teams behind them. I eventually joined Apple in London working in emerging markets, and then Booking.com in Amsterdam, working across various functions but most recently leading the supply side of the marketplace. Leadership is a craft, one that cannot be taught, but perfected and moulded with experience.

“I finally made my move into fintech when I joined Plaid this past April. My role at Plaid gives me the opportunity to marry the professional skill set I’ve honed over the years with a mission I’m connected to personally. Having lived across three different continents during my lifetime, I was acutely aware of the fact that there were no tools to enable me to take my financial history with me as I moved.

“Today, Plaid and the thousands of companies building on Plaid make that a little easier, which I found incredibly powerful. Unlocking financial freedom for everyone isn’t an easy mission, but it’s one I believe in deeply.”

Author

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

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