Maria Loyez, SocietyOne CMO, shares some tips for women looking to work in fintech as well as discussing some of the challenges faced by the industry. Only a quarter of fintech employees are female and the overwhelming majority of fintech companies are founded by men.
Here is her story:
There has never been a more exciting time to be working in fintech.
One of the world’s biggest growth industries, fintech is revolutionising the way we engage with so many facets of life, often resulting in better value, improved convenience and more choice. The industry has more than doubled in size since 2015, company revenue has increased by more than 200%, and the number of Australians adopting fintech has tripled.
However, the fintech industry still faces a number of challenges as it strives to become mainstream, and one of my main concerns is achieving diversity. Only a quarter of employees are female and the overwhelming majority of fintech companies are founded by men.
More and more, the corporate world is recognising the fact that homogeneity of backgrounds drives homogeneity of thinking. It is important to work with a range of people with diverse experiences and skill sets, to drive diversity of thought.
This is particularly true when it comes to fintech, which by its very nature has been successful through the collaboration of two different industries; finance and technology.
Now, I often ask myself what is holding women back from getting involved in fintech, and I believe the answer lies in educating girls and women, and also driving awareness of the vast possibilities that fintech opens up for both the finance industry and consumers.
Education is one of the most important steps in breaking down barriers for women looking enter fintech. Girls need to be encouraged to embrace STEM education and career paths, but learning doesn’t start and end in the classroom. It’s also important for women already in the industry to share their experiences with others looking to get a foot in the door. I am passionate about encouraging the next generation of women to explore careers in fintech.
I began my career as an engineer on the shop floor at the Ford Motor Company in Dagenham where I helped develop the Ford Puma. The transferrable skills I developed working with Ford have benefited me greatly in my current role as Chief Marketing Officer of SocietyOne, one of the first fintech start-ups in Australia and the largest marketplace lender in the country.
Embrace the unknown
Assess your own strengths, and what you have already learnt in your career that could translate into a role in fintech. Particularly in a start-up, you often have to try your hand at many things, and explore unchartered territory, so problem solving is a vital strength. But when it comes to areas you are unfamiliar with, like consumer lending – which was a foreign world to me before starting at SocietyOne – the best thing you can do is surround yourself with a diverse team of skills, knowledge and life experiences that you can learn from.
Find a mentor
After Ford I moved to the Virgin Group and was fortunate to work closely with Richard Branson. Richard makes his success look easy with his charm and maverick ways and he taught me the value of a great mentor. Mentors can provide information and advice specific to help them succeed in their careers. There are some programs specifically targeted to women in finance and fintech, such as Women in Banking and Finance or Stone & Chalk, who host regular events for women in fintech to connect.
Have the courage to take risks
Today’s workplace is competitive and fast changing, and this has never been truer than in fintech. But we can never hope to achieve success unless we’re willing to embrace change and risk the discomfort of failure. In short, you must get comfortable with taking risks at the same time as working out how far you can go. You may surprise yourself.
This is potentially one of the most important tips – as Confucius said: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day.
Women Love Tech would like to thank Maria Loyez for this article.