2 women sitting: unsplash

The value of allies and an inspiring culture

From Ada Lovelace to Grace Hopper – women have been pioneers in technology for nearly a century. Closer to home in my world of fintech, we are seeing women making significant strides and transforming our industry for the better too.

According to a recent report by EY and Innovate Finance, over three-quarters of women (76%) believe their fintech organisation is inclusive and over half (56%) feel it is diverse. However, while progress is being made, significant barriers still exist.

The dynamic, challenger style nature of start-ups make them the perfect environment for tackling stereotypes and breaking stigmas from day one. When I joined emerging European embedded finance leader, Swan, in its infancy, I knew I had found an inspiring company that fundamentally believed in its people as much as it did its products.

Together we have evolved – becoming one of the 27 most exciting fintech startups in Europe to watch – and have created a culture which encourages team members to grow together. So here are my tips on thriving in a start-up culture:

Set goals that stretch you

As the famous saying goes, ‘Aim for the moon, if you miss, you’ll land among the stars’. When it comes to your career goals, think big. Far too often we become blinded by the statistics that are stacked against us.Instead, choose to focus on the incremental steps that bring you closer to your goal.

Tomorrow is built by those who make change happen. So think beyond the surface. Concretely, this means taking time to understand the business you’re in. Consider the size of your company, your industry, who are your key connections and how you can build on your knowledge and experience? Once you start to listen, ask the right questions and understand your environment, you can make the most of the opportunities in front of you.

Most importantly push yourself beyond what society authorises or reflects onto you. Only you can decide what type of person you are. So get to know yourself, what you want and follow that!

Bring out the best in others

Particularly at Swan, we are committed to creating the managers of tomorrow not by teaching them to tell others what to do, but rather to inspire people by being their best selves.

The nature of a start-up culture is that you can find yourself working closely with senior leaders within the business on a daily basis. Recognising your own value and expertise is crucial to thriving within these environments. Knowing when to speak up and when to ask for help is also vital, and importantly, when you do ask for help, respecting the expertise of others. That’s what we preach at Swan. And we teach our managers to encourage others to do the same. After all, we’re all in the same boat with the same shared goal.

The value of allies

A lot of progress has been made so women can thrive in leadership positions, but we shouldn’t stop here. We must continue to challenge stereotypes, make a point to connect with the right people and look for those people who advocate for women.

Look for a supportive environment where your insights and perspectives are valued. I’m lucky to be surrounded by people today who have given me opportunities and want to see me succeed.

While we know that there is still a way to go in terms of creating a true level playing field, it will require the collective drive of everyone to truly get us there. Men can be just as much of our allies as women and it’s therefore vital that we work together to break down the remaining barriers.

Stéphie NdingaAbout the author

Stéphie Ndinga is the Chief Compliance Officer at emerging European embedded finance leader, Swan. Stéphie began her career in project management with ambitions of becoming a financial trader. It was when she joined Leetchi, a crowdfunding platform, that she discovered her passion for risk and compliance. Since joining Swan, Stéphie set the foundations for its compliance department and secured Swan’s e-money license, which is essential for Swan’s platform to function.