Britt Endemann Britt is a Partner based in FRA’s London and Washington, DC offices, and is co-head of its Data Governance, Technology Solutions and Forensics practice.

She has extensive experience assisting companies with advanced technology-driven solutions and AI technologies to address corruption risks and financial crimes.

Britt travels the globe advising companies and C-suite management—particularly in the banking, financial services, telecommunications, and manufacturing sectors—on issues relating to risk mitigation, developing innovative technology solutions and defensible protocols related to cross-border investigations in Europe, the United States, Asia and the Middle East.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I started out working in the financial industry, but soon became unimpressed with the “boys’ world” that it turned out to be. I went to work for a law firm, where my background in finance meant that I was involved in reviewing financial records, and assisting with defending complaints filed against stockbrokers. Using technology-assisted review of banking data and complex financial data sources was my first real opening to the technology world.

I began working on internal investigations, particularly around technology and preparing electronic data for review and analysis. I soon realised there was a significant gap between the business’ legal and technology divisions, and there was a growing strategic need to bring them together more cohesively.

With the advent of social media, I saw more and more opportunities to combine my tech and business experience in the context of litigation matters. I ended up creating a consulting team within the firm specifically for white collar and antitrust litigation to assist lawyers and and clients navigate the various risk factors that were cropping up around the expansion of technology and the need to explain a client’s business technology infrastructure to the authorities and courts.

When Forensic Risk Alliance (FRA) approached me to spearhead its Data Governance, Technology Solutions and Forensics Practice, having the opportunity to build a truly integrated core offering that integrates equally both technology and business seemed like the perfect next step. The FRA Data Governance practice comprises a group of advisory consultants, technology solutions and an internal development team. Together, we develop our own mid-ware and consult with external clients as well as our internal forensic accountants and data analysts based around the globe.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not at all; I initially started in business and finance as the most direct step from my degree in business. However, I’ve always been fascinated by computer science, and as my career gradually brought me deeper into the world of tech, I soon became self-taught on aspects such as coding and infrastructure. It was this interest that led me to realise how and why the integration of technology and business is so necessary and should not be separated, leading me to my current role at FRA.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

I found it initially difficult to break into the technology industry, especially with my non-traditional technology background. Because of this, I made sure to keep up-to-date with the latest in my field to ensure I didn’t fall behind. With the industry still constantly innovating, as well as being the largest growing sector in the world, I still see it as hugely important to keep up with its fast pace of change in order to stay ahead.

I’ve also found that computer science is a notoriously male-dominated field. Therefore, being a leading female professional has long been a challenge, and I’ve had particular difficulties in the past with recruiters often not putting me forward for senior leadership roles. This is something I still continue to see, and now that I am more senior, I have made it a personal priority to ensure FRA ensures gender diversity and equality in our recruiting for roles across the business.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I am most proud of building a technology-led department within a consulting firm that is headed up by two women—myself and FRA Founding Partner, Frances McLeod. To do this, we responded and adapted to the needs of the industry, bringing technology and business together. We completely overhauled our team, recruiting top talent from around the globe to ensure we had exactly the right skills in place to achieve our vision of a data governance practice that marries technology with high-end consulting.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

Failing and making mistakes. Learning from every project is crucial and I’ve found that attempting to achieve perfection can quite often lead to failure. I am a believer in documenting “lessons learned” after each case. These lessons eventually translate to updated work flows and policies.

Not only that, team effort is just as important as individual achievement. I would not be where I am now without listening to the teams around me and constantly learning from others. I know that it’s much more beneficial in the long term to acknowledge when you’re wrong so that you can keep learning and moving forward.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

One of the biggest mistakes that tech people make is the assumption they are the ones that stay behind the scenes within a business. However, I would say that technology focused individuals should always make the time to learn as much as they can about their business, and how their products and services are used on a day-to-day basis. This will produce a greater understanding of the business and, as a result, they will find it much easier to excel in their technology career. To build technology solutions you have to understand the business use and the business must be involved.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Although things are starting to change, fewer than 40% of women with computer science degrees remain in technology and tend to leave the industry after 10 years. This pales into comparison with men who usually stay to work their way up. It’s clear the tech industry is truly male dominated – especially when it comes to events where men are usually keynote speakers.

However, we’re starting to see women moving more and more into senior leadership roles in tech at big companies. While this is hugely positive, it’s important that men already in the industry support the movement of women into technology-based roles.

To really overcome the barriers to success, I’d advise all women to be strong and sure of your own talent – don’t just compete simply because there are men there and don’t compare yourself to others. Rather than end up in a gender war, let your talent and skills speak for themselves.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

Firstly, recruitment agencies should ensure they are putting a 50:50 split of men and women on the table for job applications. This will mean that ultimately, companies will achieve a 50:50 split at every level of the business, which is especially important when it comes to senior management.

Secondly, companies themselves should ensure that job descriptions are written in gender neutral terms to ensure they are inclusive of everyone.

Lastly, companies should try to ensure that all colleagues are given equal opportunities to speak up and share ideas. Allowing women to be visible and present to the wider company will encourage younger team members to aspire to leadership roles.

There is currently only 17% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I would promote women to senior management positions to ensure an equal gender split across the board in all sectors of businesses. Because, until this happens, women won’t be attracted to certain industries, which is quite often the reputation that tech holds. We see on a regular basis that women will have the same title for many years and are disqualified for promotions due to reasons such as maternity leave. With male outsiders coming in to replace them, the gender gap gets wider and wider as people start to progress up the career ladder.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I highly recommend watching videos of Anne Wojcicki, Co-Founder and CEO for 23andMe. She is a true inspiration for all female techies and shows leadership with technology and business integration at its best; her company helps users learn about their ancestry, genealogy, and inherited traits via at-home genetics test kits and genetic mapping research. 23andMe became the first company to offer autosomal DNA testing for ancestry, becoming a pioneer in the field, and developing technology that has lead the way for every other at-home genetic testing service to come after it.

In addition to that, I always keep up to date with the latest business and tech news. My favourite sites are MIT Technology Review, Barrons and the Financial Times.

WeAreTheCity has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here.