For International Women’s Day 2020 we, once again, are showcasing the awesome women in our community. This year we asked our standout stars what empowers them, what items are ‘on their list’ and who would they most like to sit down with for a ‘fireside chat’. Their answers are as varied as they are inspirational. Let us celebrate all the women working in FinTech and our IWD 2020 Standout Stars – Charlotte Crosswell, CEO, Innovate Finance, Diana Carrasco, Group head of Risk, Digital Channels – COO, Lloyds Banking Group, Julie Lake, CEO and Co-founder, The FinTech 50, Melanie Palmer, CMO, Nucoro, Katalin Kauzli, CEO, Charlie India, Poojya Manjunath, Senior Machine Learning Product Owner, Applied Sciences, Group Transformation, Lloyds Banking Group, Pam Bateson, CEO, Thrive Partners and Ceri Godwin, Director Growth & Advisory – EmTech at Santander UK.
What makes you feel empowered?
When you have the time to fully prepare for any opportunity, whether that is a key meeting, a speech or an interview. When you know your subject well, you know that nothing can phase you. – Charlotte Crosswell, Innovate Finance.
Autonomy, knowledge and achievable goals. These would be my top three – which must sound obvious I know, but I do think they’re all inextricably linked. Autonomy for me is all about having the freedom to think as big as you want and not be challenged – but to that end, you do need to set yourself some achievable goals that will help you realise that big thought of yours. Defining those goals, i.e. knowing what you’d be happy with achieving in terms of (baby) steps is a massive part of empowering yourself, as then only you can hold yourself to account. And in order to know what those achievable goals should be, you need knowledge. This doesn’t necessarily mean you yourself need to know everything – it’s also about knowing who to go to, that can provide their own knowledge and help you achieve those goals. Sometimes the greatest self-empowerment comes from empowering people around you – be it your team at work or your personal networks – and being comfortable to call on them when you need them to know something on your behalf. – Poojya Manjunath, Lloyds Banking Group
Running my own race, avoiding comparisons. – Diana Carrasco, Lloyds Banking Group
Making a difference, however small, to someone, somewhere or something. – Julie Lake, The FinTech 50
Other women! I feel like the network of women in FinTech has grown so much over the last few years, and with that, has created a hugely positive and supportive space within the FinTech world where we all help and elevate each other and that’s been very empowering to me. This is what gives me the confidence to stand up and say my piece while that little voice in my head tells me – what on earth are you doing here, you don’t belong on stage or on a panel or whatever it is #impostersyndromeproblems. – Melanie Palmer, Nucoro
Continuously learning through a challenge with a great team of collaborators. The 3 a.m. moments of seeing the light in the problem and the debate and insight of bouncing ideas amongst a team. Those moments where everyone’s engaged and drawing on walls – so we’ve come full circle – right? – Ceri Godwin, Santander UK
Freedom. A white paper. When there are no strictly set rules. I guess this is also the reason I am involved in a startup. – Katalin Kauzli, Charlie India
Positivity, adventure, design and teamwork, Pam Bateson, Thrive Partners
What are the top three priorities on your ‘list’?
With years passing relations with others: family, friends or at the workplace is becoming more and more important. And taking time to nurture these are the absolute priorities over anything else. – Katalin
Continue to learn something new – you’re never too old to learn more. FinTech for Schools campaign – showing what Fintech can do to school children can help with financial inclusion and inspiring them with innovation. Showcasing more of the UK’s great innovation in finance – FinTechs have done a fantastic job so far – let’s keep it going and show how FinTech is embedded through all parts of finance. – Charlotte
In no particular order, my priorities on my ‘work list’ are purpose, continual learning and doing good. I guess these can extend somewhat into my personal life but from a work point of view, purpose is important as it drives my passion. It’s that thing that gives me clarity in what I do and ties in nicely with empowering me to wanting to reach end goals. Continual learning is a big one for me as I love to constantly learn new things and challenge myself – so I need to know that in whatever I’m doing, I’m always current in my thinking and learnings. And lastly but by no means least, is doing good. I always like to know that what I’m working on has some kind of impact on someone or something in a good way. So this could be doing good for my end user, doing good for my team and/or community, or even doing good for myself, family and friends. – Poojya
Giving my child enough tools to grow into a happy, confident and kind adult; Learning something new every day; Ensuring my career has a real impact – Diana
They’re not all FinTech related, but: explore sustainable finance (beyond the greenwash), promote remarkable women founders in the new economy, and locally: conserve a small patch of wilderness in my own back yard that is under threat. – Julie
Normalising talking about money. As a society apparently we are more comfortable talking about sex than money and give our reputation for being prudes I find this very concerning. Creating a community for women to ask “stupid” questions about finance. I’m of the opinion that community will be one of the ways we can address the investment gap. Learn a new skill. I haven’t figured out what yet but I recently realised that I haven’t learned something totally from scratch in a long time and I’d like to change that! – Melanie
Family, health and increasingly the planet. All three fall into the category of often neglected. Moving to the non-negotiable list will eliminate this possibility. – Ceri
To facilitate everyone being able to get the learning and support they need in the moment 24/7; To bring the price of a world class coaching session down to under £100; To be a role model to my team, to my kids and to girls and women – Pam
Knowing what you know now – what do you wish you could ‘do over’?
Education – I wasn’t pushed hard enough, and spent a large part of my twenties having to prove I earned the job as I didn’t have the academic record to show – didn’t stop me in the end though! – Charlotte
This is quite a tricky one as I feel that I have learned from all my experiences and they’ve truly shaped me into what I am today. But if I think long and hard about what advice I would give to my younger self, I think it would major on “just speak up”. This really comes from always being that quiet person in the meeting room that never spoke up with her ideas and just going with the flow as it seemed the easy thing to do at the time. And when you think about it, it also plays to authenticity as I don’t ever think I was being true to myself by not challenging or speaking forthrightly. We’ve generally come a long way in surfacing authenticity and bringing our true selves to work, but I’m pretty sure once upon a time I wasn’t the only female in the room that sat quietly and avoided voicing her opinions! – Poojya
I wouldn’t really do anything over, but if I had the chance to go back to speak with my younger self I would encourage her to find an inspirational mentor early in her career. – Diana
No contest, I would ‘live’ in other countries for a number of years each (if they’d let me…), seek out more great people and learn from them, and start a business much (much) sooner. – Julie
Ummm got into FinTech even earlier? There’s nothing that I look back and wish I had done differently as it was all part of both my professional and personal journey to get to where I am now. I do my best to learn from things that go wrong and make sure they don’t happen again! – Melanie
Persist in learning languages and playing a musical instrument! This would have required ignoring feedback from teachers and yes practising much, much more!!! – Ceri
Learn to be patient earlier, realising that it is always the human factor that causes bottlenecks in a business. – Katalin
Be fitter sooner; Not look too far – what you need is usually close by or within. – Pam
You’ve been given 20 minutes to do a keynote at a major conference – what’s your keynote?
Humanity in business: how to deal with systems and imperfections of systems, or those people outcast from systems. I think we developed very well automated and working systems, but we did not think about enough to deal with exceptions. My other topic is also related to this: centralised vs. decentralised governance systems. – Katalin
Change, and how it takes persistence and patience and so much longer than we think and it’s never done. Gender is a case in point. Decades of history take further decades to change unless we never surrender the challenge or worse still settle for ‘as good as it gets’. Real change goes beyond hearts and minds and forms part of our DNA in all walks of life and every corner of the globe. (& yes I know the world isn’t flat…) – Ceri
Getting financially fit: No matter how much yoga you do, or fruit and veg you eat if you don’t sort out your finances, true wellbeing will always be out of your grasp. – Melanie
I don’t have a keynote, so can I use the 20 minutes to show that women founders around the world are building businesses with purpose, customers and revenue. – Julie
Bringing humanity back to technology: in this innovation euphoria we are living, I am becoming obsessed with not forgetting the humans we are doing it all for. – Diana
“Data, Technology and Ethics” would be my keynote. It’s something I’m fascinated by (i.e. how much we actually know about people) plus I’m a bit of a tech geek and the whole debate about what is morally right is something I could chat about all day! As I’m very close to all three in my day-to-day work, it’s something I need to constantly consider – but I’m also really curious to hear how other people (technophobes or technophiles) see the world changing with what I think will be the commodities of the future (if they’re not already). – Poojya
Inspiring young people to pursue their dreams. Entrepreneurship isn’t taught and too many young people don’t think it applies to them. – Charlotte
How to be bring that idea to life regardless of what else is going on in your life. – Pam
Your dream ‘fireside chat’ – who would you sit down with? (living or dead)
Steve Jobs – he had a vision and never stopped pursuing what he wanted to achieve. – Charlotte
There’s lots of people I would want to sit down with by a fireside (I’m picturing me, an eclectic campfire bunch and someone strumming a guitar right now!), but I think top of the list would have to be… And this is a difficult choice!… Katherine Johnson (or Katherine Goble) – the black female American mathematician who worked at NASA and enabled the first (and many more) crewed spaceflight. Having read the book recently about NASA’s “Hidden Figures”, I was inspired at her story of courage and tenacity to just keep ploughing through what was a man’s world and the way she did it with such grace and dignity. It’d be great to ask her what kept her going to overcome her barriers and I think she would just be someone really interesting to chat to! – Poojya
Gloria Steinem – Diana
I want to explore courage. Someone who has done extraordinary things, been a pioneer, gone against the odds and fought their corner. Any one of these environmentalists would fit the bill – Melanie
Isabella Tree, Rachel Carson, Wangari Maathai, Isatou Ceesay. – Julie
Thomas Mann, my favourite writer. What he knew about human nature only very few know, so it would definitely be an insightful chat. – Katalin
Oprah Winfrey – more influential in society than the US president. – Pam
My mother, who I lost a decade ago to illness. She and my father ran their own construction business as equal partners. I had the privilege of an exceptional female role model every day and while she always told me she was proud of me, I really should have told her more often too. Running a business in a male dominated industry over half a century ago was a rare and extraordinary thing. For her it was the family business. This is how new ‘normals’ are created. – Ceri