Advice for aspiring women in fintech with DriveWealth, PPRO, Ubiquity, HomePace, and Google Cloud

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.

Some influential women in fintech give their advice to aspiring women in the sector.

Katherine Garrod, Peg Johnson, Megan Graf, Hiral Desai, and Yolande Piazza share their advice for aspiring women in the fintech industry.

Hiral Desai, head of marketing at DriveWealth

My advice isn’t just for women in fintech, it’s for women everywhere.

Don’t compare yourself to the people around you – that will only serve to steal your joy. The only person you should be comparing yourself to should be the reflection you see in the mirror. It’s through this internal competition that you can grow more authentically.

It’s also important to remember that it’s more of a marathon than a sprint, so be guided by this mantra: Be better than you were yesterday.

Leaps of faith are a way to love your future self. If you’re on the fence about accepting a new position or learning more about an industry you know little about, don’t hesitate. Breaking out of your comfort zone in this way is often where the most significant growth occurs.

You will absolutely face hurdles by doing this, but think of how proud your future self will be of how you successfully cleared those hurdles.

Finally, if you can’t walk through the wall, walk around it. There are multiple ways to get to where you want to go, sometimes you just need to take a different route.

Katherine Garrod, CISO and VP digital workplace at PPRO

I would encourage all women to be their authentic selves in every situation. When you’re in an environment where you perhaps don’t have the confidence to be yourself, it’s common to subconsciously model yourself on those around you.

It is only when you’re in alignment with your own values, beliefs and attitudes will you be able to find your most confident and true self. For a long time, I mistook vulnerability for weakness. To be vulnerable is to be brave enough to be bold, to speak up and say what you think, and to see your differences as unique qualities.

Peg Johnson, SVP of fintech at Ubiquity

Some advice would be to focus on the present, because the finish line is so far in the distance.

Focus on habits that you are looking to build or ones you are trying to break or set a goal you are trying to achieve and then make it happen day after day. Those are the “wins.” Those wins count as success and once you have a rhythm you can begin to look to the finish line and make your plan—but not before.

Secondly, stay true to yourself and within your core beliefs. Consistency in process is a must, yet as a leader of people having a trusted and emphatic voice is what separates you from the next payment expert.

You can be talented and smart but with no EQ (emotional quotient) when it comes to people, you will not make it far. Relationships matter. Thirdly, for you to learn and grow, you will have to accept the occasional failure. Failures are not fun, but they will help you flourish and develop into a confident leader. And take a chance on someone in your career as I am sure someone has taken a chance on you. And finally, have FUN.

Megan Graf, COO at HomePace

For those looking to get in, do not wait until you think you’re ready. Decide where you can add value and commit to learning the rest. Fintech by its nature is multi disciplinary – you are combining two very different fields to solve a specific set of problems, and most people don’t come to a role with backgrounds in both.

I was deeply worried I would never qualify for a role at a tech company given my traditional finance background. Instead, I leaned into what I knew – I willingly took on an entry level job at FutureAdvisor handling client services, and learned about engineering and agile development while I grew the team.

A few years later, I was director of implementations driving a technical rollout for a partnership with the fifth largest retail bank in the US.

Yolande Piazza, VP financial services at Google Cloud

Working in fintech requires resilience, learning from hearing the word “no,” and trying to do things that you maybe haven’t been done before—which could range from using technology in new and innovative ways to challenging your peers to think differently about a problem. It’s not for the faint of heart, you have to be passionate about the space.

When job searching, don’t ask yourself if you have every single requirement in a job description. Instead, find the type job you want to pursue, whether that’s B2B, B2C, or a small neobank, ask if this job helps you achieve your goals, and if you’re excited about your future in this role.

I encourage people to ask themselves if they love what they’re doing, and if they have passion for what they’re doing. If you match love and passion, I think amazing things can happen.

I’m also a big believer in the power of networking. I encourage women trying to break into fintech to find community to meet new people in the space for support and guidance. It’s incredibly valuable to have a group you can learn from in a new industry.

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