Working as the Managing Director for the Australian and New Zealand branch of the world’s largest FTSE 500 Fintech company – FIS – Anita LeMaire has obviously never been one to one to shy away from hard work. Within just a few years at FIS, she embraced the fast-pace of the Fintech industry and worked her way through roles from Director of Delivery Services to COO.
At the same time, LeMaire has been raising her family of five children with her husband in her hometown of Melbourne. How did she achieve so many career milestones and still have time to spend with her family? Well, she tells us more in this interview, saying it’s difficult to achieve an easy work/life balance but one way she’s found which works is to look at her life over a monthly period rather than a day – because in “…your day, there is just not enough hours.”
As LeMaire has worked her way up the corporate ladder, she’s kept her passion about working in an industry which is constantly adapting and evolving to suit the ever-changing payments landscape. LeMaire works closely with her clients across Australia and New Zealand and ensures they all stay ahead of the technology curve. While she manages clients in Australia and New Zealand, FIS provides this same commitment to over 20,000 clients globally, processing $75B transactions worldwide and providing technology solutions for merchants, banks and capital markets.
Read our interview with Anita LeMaire about how she keeps up with her demanding role and stays sane at the same time!
WLT: Can you tell us a bit more about how you’ve achieved what you have ended up as the Managing Director Australia and New Zealand of FTSE 500 Fintech company, FIS?
My time in the fintech industry started with an incredible love of coding and my degree in Business Information Systems at Monash University. After a stint overseas in fintech, I moved to Sydney to further my career and was later given the opportunity to set up the FIS processing centres in Melbourne, Australia. This was an exciting time for me as the team was able to build these data and processing centres from the ground up as there was no one working for FIS in Australia at the time. We were able to develop the centres, processes and client engagement from this point, and now our Australian Processing Centre is running cards, retail payments and enterprise payments for FIS clients in Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia.
In my current role as Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand for FIS, and Global Head of Cards and Payments Products, I oversee the evolution of our solutions which includes everything that runs at the FIS global data centres and all the products we are supporting for our clients in 82 countries for our payments work.
WLT: In your experience, is the financial/tech sector a place where women are under-represented?
While there are many studies and statistics that indicate we still have opportunities to have more women represented within the financial/tech sector, this has fortunately not been my experience at FIS. We currently have 40% representation of women in our organisation and it has been really promising to see an increase in the number of women that are applying for jobs in the broader fintech industry.
There are certainly considerations and challenges for women (or quite frankly anyone) who want to pursue leadership positions, especially if they are juggling other responsibilities such as family outside of work. This is why it is incredibly important in the fintech industry to have mentoring for women to support those wanting to step into leadership roles – bringing out the skills they already possess and nurturing them into the positions that they are more than qualified for.
WLT: Did you find this industry difficult to work in or is it an industry you find you can handle relatively easily?
The fintech industry is exciting! But working within it also takes a huge commitment. Finance, especially fintech, is constantly evolving and it is essential you are across the latest trends, industry updates, jargon (which can sound like another language) and technologies to stay ahead of the curve. This requires employees to not only be enthusiastic about their industry but also needs them to invest a significant amount of time into their work, both inside and outside the office. While this isn’t necessarily difficult, it is time consuming, and you need discipline to succeed.
Fintech companies, such as FIS, can also have global demands which may require employees to join calls at odd hours of the day to accommodate team members from other countries and time zones. Having a global role in Australia can make my workdays look very unusual with calls taking place outside the typical 9-5 including late at night. You really need to love what you do to have that level of commitment, but the job can also come with flexibility in your schedule to create a sense of balance.
WLT: Do you feel we still need to encourage young women to consider careers in the fast-moving finance and technical sectors?
We have a high number of women applying for roles at FIS and this is heartening. More broadly though, the majority of women in the industry are in their first 10 years of their careers, however after this point we do tend to see some drop off. This is generally because the step up into more senior positions typically happens at the same time as many begin to start a family and raise children.
In the fintech industry we do see a hesitancy amongst some women to pursue leadership roles, that are considerably more demanding, due to family responsibilities. The challenge in the coming years will not only be encouraging women to take those leadership positions but to ensure the right support and flexibility is put in place for all parents (regardless of their gender) to juggle their responsibilities.
WLT: What would you say to a young woman who’s not sure of what she could achieve in this industry?
Working in fintech is rewarding but like any other corporate career, it is also a commitment, so you should always make sure you’re going into it for the right reason. Before you make any decisions, it is important to understand what you’re passionate about and what drives you.
I really enjoyed coding and accounting and I was lucky enough to bring those two interests together in fintech. Even if you have two interests that seem worlds apart, you may be surprised how they can connect in the workplace. Always keep a look out for new opportunities to learn and develop your skills and adapt them to your work. It is true that when you love what you are doing, it doesn’t feel like work at all.
WLT: Can you tell us a bit about how you juggle your work/life balance?
If I am being honest, there is never balance. I am a mother of five with one of my children on the autism spectrum and working in an incredibly demanding global position. I am lucky enough to have an amazing husband, but the mother’s guilt is always there, and it is so easy to judge yourself when you have had to dedicate your day to work.
The way I look at balance is over a month – it is near impossible to balance your day, there is just not enough hours. You are never just balancing work and life, you are balancing family, your marriage, exercise, learning, rest, and work. If you look at your balance over a month rather than a day, you will tend to find that it all evens out and it stops you from being too hard on yourself.
WLT: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Take advantage of every opportunity you have to learn! It is not about focusing too much on one area or idea, but rather broadening your skill set and bringing an extended view to your workplace and life. Take roles in different areas and pull that learning all together – this way you will be to provide more value to your roles with this range of experience and knowledge and that makes you really valuable. And if you are interested in a career in fintech explore opportunities with FIS, we are hiring!
WLT: Thank you for you time Anita LeMaire. We’ve enjoyed hearing your story.
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