This October at The Fintech Times is all about shining a spotlight on the incredible women working in the fintech industry, sharing their greatest achievements, their biggest challenges and how they can make a difference through mentorship and collaboration.
Though progress has been made to reduce the gender gap in fintech, the industry still has far to go until it hits true representation and champions full equality.
To help highlight the influential and significant contributions of women to the industry, we asked influential fintech leaders (who just so happen to be women) to share their thoughts on the importance of mentorship and knowledge sharing when fostering women’s talent in the industry.
A crucial role
Felicia Tang, Marketing Director at rewards and brand loyalty app, Airtime Rewards, said:
“Mentorship and knowledge sharing play a crucial role in fostering female talent. In heavily male-dominated industries like fintech, where unintentional biases can permeate workplace cultures, mentorship can help challenge or influence culture norms. Not only does it provide women with advocates who can help guide them in their career path, but it also facilitates personal and professional growth, ultimately increasing the representation of women in leadership positions.
“Mentorship can also cultivate a culture of diversity and inclusion, which helps businesses attract external talent. Throughout my career, I’ve found working in a diverse team has built a greater sense of creativity, innovative thinking and problem solving skills. Additionally, mentorship programmes send a clear signal that organisations value their employees’ career development and can contribute significantly to job satisfaction, reducing staff turnover.”
Sponsorship is critical
Neha Singh, VP of Product Strategy & Innovation at Broadridge, a fintech solutions provider, said:
“Having a mentor is important, however having a sponsor is critical. A strong sponsor who advocates for you to take on new roles, challenges and assigns you stretch assignments, can significantly accelerate your career – as opposed to a mentor who coaches you to advocate for yourself. I have navigated several role changes in my career, and in each instance, I was lucky to have the benefit of a sponsor to help drive the change. It can be more challenging for women to find the right sponsors as a majority of the senior leadership is male. However, the key is to gain exposure and build trust and influence with senior leaders across the organisation.
“Another key factor is investing in building your network, especially within fintech. These will provide invaluable support and knowledge to set you up for success in your existing role and help think through what’s next in your career. Women end up navigating different situations and interpersonal dynamics compared to men, often because the perceptions and attitudes they have to deal with are different. A strong network can provide access to such experiences and guidance on how to manage them, which can help you succeed in your career.”
Stacey Wilkinson, API growth manager at NatWest, said:
“Humans by nature are always looking up to individuals. It’s incredibly important to have somebody within your industry you can look up to that really helps you pave and shape your career path and the choices that you make as well. At NatWest we have a number of employee-led networks that are aligned to the bank’s core value of inclusivity that really help individuals of all genders to learn, grow, develop and find mentors internally.”
Jennifer Tramontana, President and Founder, The Fletcher Group, a PR and marketing agency that specialises in B2B payments and fintech, said:
“Mentorship is an invaluable tool to foster women talent. However, much of that coaching happens behind the scenes. As leaders, we have to take that a step further by using our voices and networks to actively champion women’s advancement, giving recognition, highlighting their successes, and helping make connections to move the needle. It’s also just as important that men advocate for women’s progress in the fintech space, especially because they still hold the majority of leadership positions. It’s everyone’s job to work towards gender equity and inclusion.”
Vanessa Pestritto, Director of Partner Programs at open source development company, Agoric, said:
“Knowledge is power and definitely unlocks greater opportunities for individuals in their own career paths. I believe knowledge sharing for the advancement of our gender is necessary. It helps to also have input from men and other value-aligned individuals. When I didn’t have an answer for something, I started to get better at asking people who had more experience, success, or information that my peers didn’t have. In turn, I share that knowledge with other people in my network now, from raising a round for a startup, founder’s equity questions, negotiating at work, with clients, with investors and more. I believe that nothing is impossible. You just have to find a way to make it work.”
Sarah Owen, Chief Product Officer, at payments platform, One Inc, said:
“Mentorship and knowledge sharing are critical for the success of anyone’s career, and that is especially true for any marginalised group of people.
“Mentoring and knowledge sharing provide so many benefits including: information, shared experiences, connections, and increased confidence, which can help individuals accelerate their careers.
“This is particularly important for women, who are more overlooked at the onset of their careers. According to McKinsey’s 2022 Women in the Workplace study, for every 100 men who are promoted from entry level to manager, only 87 women are promoted and only 82 women of colour are promoted. This gap ins only compounded over time as there are less women to promote. Mentorship can help close these gaps as it is proven to increase the likelihood for women to reach their career aspirations.”
Key to success
Valentina Drofa, Co-Founder & CEO at Drofa Comms, PR firm for eminent finance and fintech brands
“Most women who are considered pioneers in the fintech world were mostly self-made as there was a lack of role models. Having not had the opportunity to prioritise networking, mentorship, and communication earlier on, I have now grown to value these elements as keys to success. In recent times, I’ve been working with a business coach for over two years, developing a great network, and attracting advisors, and I can say it’s important and helpful. Talking, learning about other industry experts’ stories – it’s about inspiration and sharing experiences. Finding people with not only great expertise but also similar values is inspiring and can help find new ideas or solutions and this is what I advocate for women today.”
Grit and determination
Lindsay Soergel, Chief Product and Customer Experience Officer at AI powered digital banker, Kasisto
“Mentorship is as essential as water for women in fintech. I joined the workforce when there were still very, very few women in technology. I am always cognizant of the fact that my career is directly attributable to the grit and determination – not to mention the sheer brilliance – of the women who preceded me. Their knowledge and experience shaped me, and so I consider it a part of my job description to share my experience with others and to continuously ask for feedback. No matter what stage of our career we are in, it’s critical to build and cultivate a network of women who we can trust to pull us up from time-to-time and to hold up a mirror when we need a dose of reality.”