Woman on LaptopHelene Panzarino describes a typical day in her busy life as a successful tech professional, fintech programme director and educator.

7.00: Great day today! It’s the London Lendit FinTech conference, which is always an incredibly good learning and networking opportunity. I’ll be chairing a wonderful fireside chat in the morning, and moderating a cracking panel on ‘banking as a service’ (BaaS) in the afternoon.

But I’m not a good early person. The alarm went off at 5.12, and I hit snooze – way too early.

The rain outside is torrential. I love autumn, but I can’t stand the rain! I pad downstairs for my morning double espresso and a hearty breakfast, trying not to wake my snoozing husband. This time of the morning is very peaceful. Time to gather my thoughts before the day starts in earnest.

8.00: Donned my glad rags and made my way to the train, only to discover it was late! Again! Shoved my way on and eventually got to the next leg of the journey – Uber – where I reviewed my notes and changed my shoes.

In my opinion, moderating and chairing are tough gigs. You need to do your research on panel members, as well as know your own mind. Rewarding, but needs time to be effective.

9.00: London Lendit FinTech conference

Lendit takes place at the Business Design Centre in Islington, which I love.

And it’s handy, as in the middle of the day I’ll need to whizz over to Kings Cross to present to my next potential FinTech Pathway Masters’ class at UCL. Then I’ll have to get back for the panel at Lendit.

First order of the day is to chair the fireside chat on ‘Banking into the Unknown’ with a formidable female banking trailblazer, Olga Zoutendijk.

Olga has over three decades of global banking experience and currently sits on the Board of the Private Bank, Julius Baer. She was the first female Chair of a Supervisory Board for a publicly listed company in the Netherlands, and suffice it to say, she is not afraid of the unknown.

She’s passionate about courageous leadership, and its role in attracting and retaining talent, at the same time as leading their organisations into the digital age.

She highlights the fact that banks do thousands of things okay, but FinTechs do one thing very well.

Lesson: don’t try to be all things to all customers. Be the thing you do best and then partner or collaborate.

She reminded the audience that banking provides a service to customers and that the trust lost in the last financial crisis needs to be regained.

Banks should become the trusted players in the digital eco-system. She also reminded everyone that learning should never stop.

Very wise words from a very wise, and courageous, woman.


Poor planning on my part! My eyes are treated to two enticing lunch spreads – both at the conference and UCL.

My scheduling means the Brazil nuts in my bag will have to do!

2.00: Moderating the BaaS panel

An afternoon BaaS panel includes:

  • another female innovator, Sophie Gibaud, who is also about to be a mum again
  • Nick Ogden from Clear Bank, who just made a major banking announcement last night on ‘real-time gross settlement’ (RTGS)
  • another serial FinTech entrepreneur, Nigel Verdon from Railsbank
  • and Frank Otten from Varengold in Germany, where they help SMEs get debt funding at rates that work for the SME.

This is a formidable group of panel members, but most of them I know well, so I know it will be enjoyable but informative. They do not disappoint.

The take-away on BaaS is  to be quick – to manage the risk, maximise your distribution channels and don’t try to nick your client’s clients!

Luckily for me, the wonderful woman who is my communications secret weapon is able to attend the conference, so we refresh my speaking schedule after the panel. Multitasking all the way!

I’ve also finally got to the point where I’ve stopped doing the things I don’t enjoy or I’m not very good at, and started taking on the help I need. It’s a false economy for me to be misusing my time.

5.00: Last meeting of the day

The day ends with meeting a blockchain expert ahead of a course that’s launching in the coming year. Wonderful depth of knowledge and a passion to educate!

The rain has finally stopped, which is just as well as someone in the Speakers’ Lounge nicked my brolly!

7.00: Home time

Back home for dinner followed by more marking of dissertations after watching ‘The Cameron Years’.  I’m ‘good tired’ and off to bed before Day 2 at Lendit.

A full but rewarding day full of good reminders.