Natasha Kypriandiou is a Senior Director within Publicis Sapient based out of the London office. She has over 23 years of experience in financial services, serving in senior leadership roles across a wide range of divisions and functions within global financial institutions, both in the UK and Europe.

I thrive in developing strategies to drive and transform a business in the digital economy. With a specialization in digital lending, I shape propositions across secured and unsecured lending products within both consumer and commercial segments to unlock value at scale and speed.

Prior to joining Publicis Sapient, I was the Portfolio & Digital Delivery Director at Barclays Partner Finance, where I was responsible for seamlessly embedding POS finance propositions into the end-to-end checkout journey of clients such as Apple & Amazon. During my time at Barclays UK, I had also operated as the Digital Mortgages Director creating engaging and simplified mortgage experiences for millions of UK customers.

I’m also a champion for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) to help create workplaces where everyone is accepted. Society in general tends to favour extroverts, sometimes to the detriment of introverts; and this is one aspect of DE&I that is often overlooked. Thus, as an introvert myself, I’m focused on raising awareness to help extroverts understand the introverted personality type; and encourage other introverts to embrace it as a strength and be themselves.

In my current role, I’m able to leverage my extensive industry experience and act as a trusted advisor to key executives in the financial services industry; by undertaking major Digital Business Transformation engagements aligned with clients’ strategic ambitions and end-customer needs. I’m passionate about applying effective product-led principles and frameworks to re-focus on real value creation, while embracing the benefits of the faster engines that Digital and Agile practices deliver.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

If we would have asked a younger version of me to predict my future career, banker, financial technologist and consultant would never, ever have come to mind. I would have said “musician”, hands down!

I’m a trained classical pianist that has explored other genres such as jazz, rock and pop and instruments including the saxophone and electric guitar. As a teenager, I started to experiment with the dimension of song-writing, musical arrangements and productions.

In fact, my first experiences within the digital space were through hard-disk recording for audio and music production in the late ‘90s while getting my MSc in Music Information Technology.  After my studies, I invested in building and running a professional recording studio. However, while I had a deep love for music and an entrepreneurial passion, I didn’t have a business plan, and within less than a year I made the decision to keep music as a hobby. Soon after, I stumbled into banking by accident.

You could say that this was my first experience of failing fast and learning even faster. The banking sector brought new light to my resourcefulness and ability to see things creatively. I learned to leverage my skillset of creating arrangements for music productions to orchestrate successful digital transformations.

Fast forward two decades or so later and I’m a well-respected global banking and fintech innovation leader. As Robert Frost said “I took the path less travelled”.

What career challenges have you faced along the way and how did you overcome these?

Product as a craft is constantly evolving and only in recent years did it take a seat at the big table with a voice in senior management, to enable driving the delivery of outcomes. There is still significant confusion in organisations about aligning on the role’s accountabilities.

A challenge that I come across often is that of unclear roles and responsibilities within a team. This issue makes it hard to be certain about where to focus your effort and can cause frustration when multiple people are trying to do the same work.​ Moreover, overlapping responsibilities can lead to inefficiencies and unproductive time spent which can hinder the progression of the team’s deliverables. ​

The solution to such situations is to run inclusive role alignment sessions to find responsibility gaps, discuss and agree how to allocate ownership and accountability of responsibilities democratically. This exercise ensures that all team members contribute towards shaping their roles, are comfortable with them and that there is sensible clarity being achieved, yet still allowing enough autonomy and empowerment.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Building trust and respect within my teams to boost collaboration. As a leader, I allow myself to show vulnerability, yet I’m still discreet as appropriate. This helps create real connections with each team member and builds greater trust and loyalty over time. Another important element of trust is being open and honest. I role model and encourage this type of transparent communication across the team. I also ensure to take the time to listen to team members, acknowledge their concerns and help them find solutions to their problems. Eventually, this creates a psychologically safe environment that is positive, fun, productive and engaging.

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

The biggest factor in me achieving success was when I eventually gathered the courage and followed my mum’s advice. It was simple but powerful, during a time when I was stuck in my comfort zone and miserable because of it. She could see all my untapped potential and kept telling me, ‘Always do what you’re afraid to do.’ And she was right. My biggest breakthrough came when I finally made the decision to relocate alone to the UK and pursue greater opportunities. This decision to move helped me enter my growth zone and I never looked back.

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

The technology industry is fluid and evolutionary with a rate of innovation and progression far more prominent than others. Thus, anyone with ambitions to succeed in a technology career, will need to keep their skills sharp and build a growth mindset. There needs to be a focus on constant learning, in adapting and developing experiences within your market of choice.

What barriers for women working in tech still exist and how can they be overcome?

Women in technology and product roles still face numerous challenges that range from dealing with stereotypes, most people in the room being men, bias, lack of flexible work schedules and many more. Product Management thrives on diversity and teams are strengthened by having a variety of backgrounds, perspectives and opinions. Product as a craft is constantly evolving and only in recent years did it take a seat at the big table with a voice in senior management, to enable driving the delivery of outcomes. However, it is still very male-skewed and moving the needle towards greater diversity and inclusivity is a marathon.

Women have the advantage of possessing these essential traits that can turn them into rock star product leaders: a balanced ego, strong emotional intelligence, humility, and extraordinary stamina. The goal of any product team should be to build great products and inclusivity can help shape this outcome.

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

Companies can create effective sponsorship programmes that will provide opportunities for high-potential women to interact with senior executives for increased visibility. The sponsor’s role is to intentionally clear the way for women to advance and create visible opportunities for them to accelerate their path to leadership.

In an ideal world, how would you improve gender diversity?

The world needs more women in leadership roles.

My wish for the future generation of women leaders, is that they embrace their challenges and push themselves to reach their full potential from an empowered perspective. I hope they find confidence, seek mentors, seize opportunities, and build resilience.

When women become leaders, they provide a different set of skills and perspectives. Not only do we bring structural and cultural differences to the table which drive effective solutions, but studies have revealed that women leaders are generally more people-focused and empathetic. We drive positive impact through community and relationship building.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

My advice to other women would be to actively seek to join communities in technology or product, attend conferences, grow your network, offer reverse-mentoring to seasoned professionals in exchange for their coaching and insider connections. Other recommendations are to regularly attend trade shows as this helps interpret knowledge into practical action and provide access to the very latest in real-time trends and cutting-edge innovation. Additional helpful resources are coding schools, courses and bootcamps for Women in Tech (i.e. Girls who code, women who code etc). Books (e.g. Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley by Emily Chang) and podcasts (e.g. HBR’s Women at Work podcast) can provide that necessary empowerment for self-development to reach your full potential.