Woman on Laptop

A day in the life of a tech woman

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.

Lunchtime

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.


Fintech featured

Women in Fintech: driving tech for social good

Fintech

It’s a hugely exciting time to be working in Fintech.

Like most sectors, digital innovation is at the top of the agenda in financial services, with many organisations looking for ways to improve and transform their offerings in a disruptive market. Interestingly, traditional banks and financial services providers have been slow to integrate new technology and have struggled to adapt their long-established cultures and ways of working to be more agile and innovative. With this backdrop in mind, Fintech has come to the fore, introducing new ideas and markets, as well as creating new opportunities for women in tech.

Opportunities in Fintech

Whether you’re part of a start-up or a more established company like incuto, the benefits of working in Fintech are numerous. Chances are you’ll be working within an exciting, energetic, fast-paced and fast-growth environment, as part of an organisation where technology is driving the solution on offer, rather than simply supporting a wider operation. Fintechs can offer significant opportunities to progress, gain responsibility and really take ownership of particular projects and initiatives. It’s also likely you’ll be closer to customers than you would be in a larger organisation.

It does, of course, pay to have experience behind you if you’re aiming for a leadership role. My own career trajectory started with a degree in Computer Science, closely followed by my first role as a developer for a start-up based in San Francisco. I went on to take up a new role in Dublin, working on c++ and java PKI toolkit for a start-up which went on to float on both the FTSE and NASDAQ – a great learning experience for me of going through accelerated growth.

From there, I became testing and deployment lead for an NHS SPINE project in Leeds. This move to a large organisation running one of the biggest projects in Europe provided me with experience of working on a large, complicated and multi-faceted system. Taking on the CTO role at incuto has allowed me to effectively use my skills and experiences to lead a team and create a strategy to support growth.

There are, however, numerous other routes and opportunities for women with an ambition to work in Fintech. At incuto, we encourage applications from a wide range of candidates for our development team, from school leavers through to experienced developers with 30 or more years’ of experience. In addition, we regularly take work experience students from our local schools to encourage young people to consider a career in IT. We’re also proud to be one of the growing number of Fintechs based outside of London, so opportunities for candidates outside the capital are on the up.

Fintech for credit unions

Our own technology serves credit unions, community banks and CDFIs (community development finance institutions). It enables these institutions to better serve their communities and, perhaps most importantly, take on the poverty premium paid by a large portion of the UK population when it comes to loans and banking services.

14 million people in the UK pay more for goods and services simply because they are from poorer households, and many of these end up turning to unscrupulous payday lenders for support. It is well publicised by organisations like the End High Cost Credit Alliance and Debt Hacker, that these types of loans and the continued financial burden they put on individuals and families can cause ongoing hardship for years to come.

The key to tackling the poverty premium in financial services must lie with those organisations who can offer fairer, more ethical approaches to banking and lending. Credit unions are perfectly placed to take on this role. However, there continue to be a number of significant stumbling blocks for these organisations to reaching the individuals they seek to serve.

For example, credit unions often offer their members limited branch networks (some have no more than two branches servicing a given geographical area), plus they are struggling with legacy technology and paper-based systems which make their service extremely slow and inaccessible. Traditionally members have had to physically go into a branch to either withdraw or pay in money using only their membership number.

Our technology is designed to open up the services credit unions can offer and give access to a wider audience through technology. incuto has also introduced better branch access via partnerships with wider networks, plus a debit card (rather than simply a Membership number) allowing the financially excluded to access additionally services at the same price as the wider population, plus better online access and automation.

Innovative technology for financial inclusion

Like all organisations, credit unions must innovate and transform the service they offer Members. And it’s not just about enabling people to apply online in a faster and more efficient way, it’s about financial freedom and access to services and the same level of interaction and engagement that they would receive from a high-street or online bank.

It’s very rewarding to be part of a Fintech which is genuinely trying to help tackle the poverty premium and lift individuals out of poverty through fairer banking and financial education. Tech for social good offers a fantastic opportunity for women in tech, whether they are starting out or have experience to offer, and the need for this technology has never been more important.

Jen AndersonAbout the author

Jen Anderson, CTO, incuto.

Jen gained experience delivering projects in both tech start - ups and major change programmes in NHS. Recognised in top 100 CTOs in 2019, Jen is gaining prominence as a strong voice in the Tech for Good ecosystem.


Money20:20 Rise Up launch featured

Money20/20 introduce its Rise Up programme, designed to empower the next generation of women in financial services

Money20:20 Rise Up launch

Money20/20 introduced its Rise Up programme, in partnership with the European Women’s Payments Network (EWPN), at Europe’s leading FinTech event – Money20/20 Europe.

The Rise Up intitiative is designed to empower the next generation of women in financial services and will give an exclusive cohort of thirty women access to a specially curated agenda of bespoke content sessions and exclusive networking opportunities.

Alongside regular programming, they will take part in one-to-one mentoring with the most respected industry leaders, private meetings with keynote speakers and special networking events.

Rise Up hopes to address the gender imbalance in leadership positions within the Financial Services and Fintech industry.

The initiative was launched at the three-day Money20/20 Europe conference. The event, held in Amsterdam, sees thousands of influential senior leaders across the industry come together to delve into the topics and trends that will shape the future of money.

Set against a backdrop of massive change in the industry, over 350 speakers will share fresh perspectives and insight on industry-critical topics, including banking transformation, payments evolution and innovation, the rise of SuperApps, AI and transformational technology, cyber security and risk management.

Money20/20

Networking remains a core part of Money20/20’s ethos with a mix of interactive content sessions, workshops and innovation labs, alongside a packed schedule of evening events that will allow attendees to get together and share insights while also experiencing the best of Amsterdam. The Money20/20 Street Takeover returns this year alongside an exclusive “Taste of Amsterdam” Welcome Party on the first evening.

Speaking about the event, Tracey Davies, President, Money20/20, said, "Transformation across the financial services sector is happening more rapidly than ever before with many saying the next five years will bring even bigger changes than the last five."

"Our packed agenda in Amsterdam will dive into trends and topics that will drive that change, inspiring discussion about where the industry is going next and what we need to do to get there.”


UK remains 'hotbed' for tech talent

The UK remains a 'hotbed' for tech talent, employing five per cent of all high-growth tech workers globally, according to a new report.

The research, conducted by Tech Nation, found that the UK is in front of Japan, France and Indonesia when it comes to employing high-growth tech workers.

In the UK, Insurtech and Fintech were the biggest employers among high-growth digital tech firms in 2018, employing 24 per cent and 18 per cent of the high-growth workforce respectively.

Cyber, AI, and Cleantech all feature in the top ten sectors for employment in high-growth tech firms. Investment data shows that AI, Cyber and Big Data are growing in importance for UK tech scaleups. This means that the UK may be about to see more jobs generated in these sectors.

Eileen Burbidge, Partner, Passion Capital & Chair of Tech Nation said, “The UK has an incredibly pivotal role in the global tech scene."

"Nowhere is this more evident than in the Fintech sector where the UK is ranked number one in the world; an enviable position that has been established with decades of hard work, entrepreneurial talent, innovation and supportive policymakers."

"I’m confident that we have all the ingredients needed for continued success and even greater acceleration of the tech sector here in the UK.”

UK Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, added, ‘‘The UK is a global tech powerhouse."

"I am immensely proud of our country’s ambitious tech scaleups."

"These companies are delivering significant economic value to the nation through the investment they raise, the jobs they create and the innovative products and services they deliver’’.


FinTech

Women in FinTech: Fresh perspectives

The financial services industry is well known for being fast paced, competitive and male-dominated.

fintechIn Fintech, women are vastly underrepresented, making up just 29 per cent of staff in the sector, despite representing 47 per cent of the UK workforce. But this is also an industry in transition – and growing numbers of companies now recognise the importance of promoting gender neutral pay structures and flexible working policies.

As Rosie Silk, R&D Tax Manager at Kene Partners, explains, with the right working policies and role models, concerns about attracting women to the industry should be rapidly consigned to history.

Zero Bias

Gender pay gaps. Endemic sexual harassment in Silicon Valley. It is easy to assume that the experience of women in the workplace has failed to improve over the past three decades. But that is patently untrue. There are many organisations within the FinTech sector that are passionate advocates for generating a positive working environment, and one that has zero gender bias.

Given the challenge of recruiting high calibre individuals, companies need to encourage working practices that suit today’s attitudes towards work/life balance. Both women and men should have equal access to flexible working policies, for example.

However, of course, FinTech is a young industry. Fast growing, start-up organisations will often overlook the need for flexible working models to support parents of both sexes. Indeed, in many start-ups, such flexibility is simply not an option. But this is an industry that offers choice: if flexible working is important to any individual, then look for a different employer. There is without doubt a divergence in cultural attitudes and behaviours as well as working practices in firms across the FinTech sector, and it is incredibly important for both employer and employees to understand and identify those issues up front. Skills and experience alone are not enough to ensure a great fit.

Role Models

This is also where female role models can play an important part, not only to inspire contemporaries and the next generation but also to set expectations within the workplace. The days when women leaders felt the need to adopt so called male leadership traits are long gone; successful women are leaders on their own terms in FinTech as much as any other industry, and that is an important message.

Attending an innovation conference recently and finding four women on a panel of five, is incredibly inspiring. Furthermore, these women can also reinforce a strong culture by acting as coaches or mentors to new starters. But it is also important to remember that changes to the workplace alone can never achieve zero gender bias without a wider change in culture, at home and in education.

Chat to any successful women in FinTech, or just any successful women, and the story will be the same: they were provided with a huge amount of confidence at home, encouraged to try new experiences and treated equally. As a result they expect to be treated fairly at work and to have access to the same opportunities. They are also confident enough to take risks and embrace innovative business areas such as FinTech.

For any business leaders carefully crafting good flexible working policies, don’t forget to apply the same encouragement and support once you get home from the office!

Conclusion

Despite the occasional negative headlines, times have without doubt changed. In addition to the support provided by switched on employers, women leaders are now becoming commonplace and acting as role models to the next generation. Companies across the board are investing in new working practices to support all staff and, as this continues, hopefully, within the next few years this conversation will be consigned to history.


Women in Fintech

Go where it's hot: Advice to women looking to advance their career in Fintech

fintech
Image via Shutterstock

By Mandy Killam, Group President, ACI On Premise at ACI Worldwide

One of the most valuable pieces of career advice I ever received was from one of my former bosses who once told me: Go where its hot! 

And by that he didn’t mean relocating to sunny Florida but taking on roles in demanding areas that require change. And he was right: Those environments offer women fabulous opportunities to accelerate their professional and personal growth.

I followed that advice and arrived in payments 23 years ago, by way of engineering. When I joined the industry, “payments” weren’t nearly as cool a topic as today, and the technology environment was reactive and cumbersome. But I could see the great potential for change.

Today I sit on the executive board of ACI Worldwide, a global Nasdaq listed payments software company which operates in 80 countries. I manage over USD 600 million in annual revenue, and look after more than 700 talented employees based around the world.  Together we support over 450 customers in the banking and merchant retail sector with our range of Universal Payment solutions.

The payments and fintech industry is in the middle of a major disruption. Global payments revenues are growing rapidly and the payments ecosystem is going through tremendous changes. New players are challenging old ones, old ways of doing business are being replaced by new ones. We at ACI Worldwide are part of this disruptive movement. The industry is inclusive, diverse and global, and I see opportunities for women to advance all around me!

My advice to someone just starting their career in payments and fintech? Keep moving!  It can be a tough industry, especially if you are working in an environment at the start of a transformational journey.  But in an industry in the middle of a disruptive change women have opportunities to reinvent themselves.  As I moved to business roles, I’ve relied on my technical background to help address challenges facing leaders in the industry.

Education is crucial in breaking down barriers for women looking to enter fintech and payments.  We have a responsibility to teach girls about about the opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) related professions. It is also important for those already in the industry to share their experiences and help those looking to get a foot in the door.  At ACI we are passionate about nurturing and mentoring and have set up WIN, a global networking community which aims to inspire, educate, connect and recognize women at ACI and in the payments industry.

My three top tips for those with ambitions for a C-level position? Top of my list: Learn the business, from all angles; this greatly enhances your ability to add value! Secondly, spend time thinking about what needs to change today to remain relevant and prosperous three to five years on. And finally, hire the best team possible - the team that can make those changes happen!

About the author

Mandy Killam leads the On Premise P&L for ACI Worldwide, the global payments software powerhouse. In her role, she is accountable for ACI’s on-premise business, which includes delivery and support for all customers that choose to operate ACI’s solutions within their own premises (vs. hosted at ACI).  As part of this role she manages over 700 employees based around the world, supporting over 450 customers from the banking, financial intermediaries and merchant retailer segments.


Marieke

Recruiting for the FinTech industry

 

Marieke Flament is a respected technology leader and is currently heading up the European expansion of leading social payments app Circle. Here she provides insight into what she looks for when recruiting for this fiercely competitive industry.

People are the life and blood of any organisation and this is particularly true when talking about a FinTech startup. Having an analytical mind and entrepreneurial spirit are pretty much a given for any candidate even wishing to get to the interview stage.

But when recruiting we look for a lot more than just possessing the right skill sets. In a small startup it’s essential the candidate is the right cultural fit. Whilst candidates may look the part on paper, how will they fit into the existing team? Are candidates passionate about the problem you want to solve? Do they share the company’s values and character traits?

I’m often asked what we look for in candidates during the interview process and would say the following are all essential:

Passion

At Circle we are not just a social payment app, we are on a revolution to make money work the way the internet does so that the world can be a better place for our customers. That's a big and ambitious vision -and we want people who understand and share our vision. In an interview, I test this by asking people why they want to work for Circle and assess what they think of the app.

Resilience

In a startup the highs are high and the lows are low - we need resilient people, people who can learn from mistakes (and it's ok to make mistakes!) and bounce back. In our industry you cannot afford to stand still and wait for things to happen because you are too afraid of making a mistake.

Proactiveness

We need people with a "go-get-it" attitude - there is no job too low for anyone to do! From setting up your own computer, to picking up the phone for someone else and to making the coffees. In a small team everyone needs to pull together irrespective of their title.

Curiosity

Working in such a multifaceted industry such as FinTech it is vital a candidate demonstrates a willingness to step outside their comfort zone and learn about other areas i.e. marketing, regulation, risk. We are looking for well-rounded, multi-skilled people, avid to learn new skills as our industry is continuously evolving and requires you to keep learning.

Creative but practical

What we do has never been done before, and therefore there is no manual or ‘How to Guide’ we can refer to. Therefore, we need people to not only be creative to find new ways of doing things, but also practical. If someone is creative but not practical then nothing will get done - and we need to get stuff done. Be “creatively practical!”

FinTech as an industry employing over 61,000 people and generates billions of pounds of revenue for the UK’s economy. The possibilities for this industry are endless and competition to work in it is fierce. As for most jobs, having the right grades and qualifications is not enough. You need to possess traits which cannot be taught and are innate, and share the passion of the company you want to join. If you have all the above then you are well on your way!


Fintech

Breaking into FinTech

 

Marieke Flament is a respected technology leader and is currently heading up the European expansion of leading social payments app Circle.

Here she provides insight into the skills and qualities required to break into the increasingly competitive FinTech industry.

fintech
Image via Shutterstock

FinTech as an industry employing over 61,000 people and generates billions of pounds of revenue for the UK’s economy (EY’s UK FinTech: On the cutting-edge report). FinTech is focused on technology and its application to disrupt the traditional financial sector. It’s a multi-faceted industry that covers many areas; from banking and insurance, through to neo-banking and robo-advisor.

Competition to break into the FinTech industry is fierce so it’s important to consider if you have the correct skillset. In my experience, I would say the following are essential:

Analytical mind

If you’re going to pursue a career in FinTech, you will need to be good with numbers because you will more than likely be dealing with large amounts of data, whether that’s analysing the users of a system or understanding the logic behind the systems themselves.

Entrepreneurial

It is likely that you are going to be a joining a fast-growth environment, and there is always work to be done in a start-up. You will need to have the ability to work with an independent attitude and an entrepreneurial spirit while turning your hand to many different elements within the business. It is likely to be hard work but there are so many benefits to that too - in a start-up you get to assume more responsibility than you may do in a more corporate environment, which can often speed up your progression within the company.

Passion for technology

This is a given. I have worked within the tech sector for my entire career, and to succeed in this competitive industry you need to be passionate about technology –from how it works, the trends that are affecting it, how it impacts on consumers’ everyday lives. In my current role, I am the MD of Europe for Circle, a company that is breaking boundaries in the finance sector by exploring the ways in which technology can be used to change the way we view and use money. I am passionate about how our company is forging ahead with innovative technologies and is using blockchain to simplify and improve people's lives.

Customer-centric

The aim of FinTech is to leverage technology to serve customers with better, faster, cheaper and more secure services. Anyone wanting to work in this industry must be able to empathise with what consumers want and keep that at their core.

Big picture thinking

The financial industry is transforming and this change is being driven by technology. To keep up with these changes, you need to be able to continuously think ahead and be on your toes. What are the latest industry trends and how will these affect the business you are working in? What are the challenges that lie ahead and what are the solutions? Working in FinTech requires you to think both logically and laterally.

FinTech is an industry that is on its way up and breaking into it will only become more competitive as it continues to grow in importance.  FinTech employees need to have analytical and mathematical skills, as well as a passion for technology; combine that with an entrepreneurial attitude, project management skills and team working capabilities, and it will leave you in good stead to landing that dream job.

About the author

This article was written by Marieke Flament, Managing Director for Europe at Circle.


Inspirational Woman I Wendy Jephson, Co-Founder and Chief Behavioural Scientist at Sybenetix

I am a Co-Founder and Chief Behavioural Scientist at Sybenetix. Originally I trained in London as a lawyer, went in-house into business early on and was on the board at Eli Lilly & Company Ltd before leaving to retrain as a business-focussed behavioural scientist. At Sybenetix my role is to help with the design of our Enterprise Behavioural Analytics software that analyses the behaviours of financial decision makers and provides tools to both improve the performance for those decisions makers and enable compliance officers to manage misconduct more effectively.

  1. Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

When I was 12 I loved watching Crown Court - that combined with a love of debating (possibly more accurate to say arguing) with my brother, and the fact I thought they earnt a lot of money, settled me on a career as a lawyer.  The plan from there was obvious; law degree; law school and Articles in a law firm. I started as a trainee solicitor in my London law firm, with becoming a partner a firm expectation. Wendy Jephson

Two years later having been seconded to Xerox during the traineeship (a right place right time moment), I was offered a job in-house in their Central & Eastern European Team. I duly signed up to the Final Salary Pension scheme and thought I'd be making my way up the ladder there for many years. Two years later I moved to Eli Lilly & Company Limited.  I again signed up to the Pension scheme, but thought 'let's see where this takes me’.

Seven years later in a fascinating industry and multi-layered job I found I had a new interest emerging in behavioural science.  Sparked from an idea from my brother - a fund manager - that analysing financial decision making and using behavioural science to enhance it was a real area of opportunity, I went back to university to retrain.   That interest has grown into a passion over more years than I expected it to take, but when I left Lilly I did tell the Board I was leaving to do the job I am doing today, so there was an outline plan in that sense if the details of how I've gotten from A to B have taken a number of twists and turns.

  1. Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

Challenges come in many shapes and guises - from within the work itself to the culture of your organisation to outside of work.  My biggest challenges have come from losing family members much too soon. Events like that though shape what's important and how you will deal with them inside and outside of work, so for me there is learning to be had in everything.

  1. What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?

I remember someone saying to me that when you move into leadership positions with the top teams you get to peak behind the curtain - meaning you see the leadership gods are still just normal people just like the rest of us, usually they just have more of the picture.  It's a core skill to be able to maintain the ability to relate to both leadership team and those you are leading.  You have to find your own way of doing that, but again watch how others do it and notice the impact it has.

  1. When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how would you decide who should have the role?

As a behavioural scientist I can honestly say that no two candidates will be identical even if they have the same qualifications on paper.  They will have differences in how they approach problems, team mates, clients and so on. These can all be tested systematically provided you have analysed the role they will be doing, distilled the knowledge skills and abilities that will be required as well as the cultural fit with the organisation.  Taking a multi-layered approach means you are far more likely to find great people who will fit your role, but for whom the role and organisation will also best fit.

  1. How do you manage your own boss?

As part of the senior management team I don't have one in the formal sense.  The approach that works for me though is to remain open and continue to ask questions to ensure I'm informed and understand the issues.  This helps me know when to challenge and when things are outside my areas of expertise.  I also try to keep as much humour in the relationship as possible

  1. On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

 Usually both ends are on the train although the beginning is always with coffee!  It's a great opportunity to think - I use it try to make sense of the latest challenges and to see where dots join and diverge.

  1. What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations?

Be interested and take opportunities to learn more whenever and wherever they arise - especially when it's outside your usual role's parameters.  Speak to people you don't normally speak to; go to talks because they're on - there are always little nuggets in everything you hear and see, and it means you have a broader ability to speak to people across organisations and industries.

  1. How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?

The first and only coach I've had actually really set me on the path I'm on.  I'd been given a coaching package as part of the senior team program - we dealt with the career planning piece in session one and had five sessions left.  In those sessions he really introduced me to behavioural science and the impact it can have in organisations.   I've not had 'official’ mentors, but again I learn from everyone I get the opportunity to work with both within my organisation and outside it.

  1. Do you think networking is important and if so, what 3 tips would you give to a newbee networker?

Networking is incredibly important.  There have been studies showing how connected people are in our world and you never know when opportunities will arise.  Just a few weeks ago I was in Hong Kong with a CEO from an Australian company who gasped as he saw one of his great friends from the UK on the slide about our advisory panels!

Three tips would be:

  1. Go for it! Go up to the speakers at events and ask them questions.
  2. Join in group discussions and listen for the opportunities to connect.
  3. Follow up with people you've met for subsequent discussions to keep the relationships alive.
  4. What does the future hold for you?

The future of Sybenetix is incredibly exciting. We are breaking new ground in behavioural analytics, really bringing the knowledge from academia into the messy real-world workplace.  I am working with an amazing team of very talented people in an industry full of very smart people who are actually really driven to improve standards - so the future looks very exciting indeed.


Inspirational Woman | Nicole Anderson, founder of FinTech Circle Innovate

Nicole Anderson is the founder of FinTech Circle Innovate, which works to establish financial services companies with support through innovation and investment. 
1. Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I have never actually planned my career - but four years ago I knew I wanted to move into FinTech in an entrepreneurial capacity. I knew if I could combine my commercial, innovation and venture experience to the explosive growth and opportunity in FinTech - I knew I could make an impact especially given London is such a great platform.Nicole Anderson

  1. Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

In running any business you face challenges everyday but agility and problem solving is part of the deal. Living with uncertainty takes getting used to. The trick is to have structure, surround yourself with great talent and network and be relentless in your execution and self-belief.

  1. What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?

Having a mentor is a great idea at any stage in a career but even more so when you take on a leadership role for the 1st time. Gaining insight on how to manage time, demands of managing people, structures and targets/KPI's are a complex mix and having an outside view is invaluable.

  1. When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how would you decide who should have the role?

I would go with someone the right attitude. Enthusiasm and a self-starter who is creative and motivated is hard to find. Capability is one thing - but attitude is the X factor.

  1. How do you manage your own boss?

I don't have one - I am the boss. I do have customers and that is who I answer to. I treat my customers with as much personal attention as possible. I believe people work with people they trust and like. And that relationships are the key to business.

  1. On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

I begin each morning with a mediation practice. I am also a keen sports person and do some form of exercise every morning - swimming, running, gym or yoga. That sets me up for the day. I have long days as I work multiple time-zones but usually I end my day with time at home with my husband. It’s important to disconnect - although not always that easy. I find listening to music or podcasts / audio books a great way to disconnect.

  1. What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations

It’s important to work on proof points before aiming to get your profile raised. Get involved in projects that stretch you. Work on external networking. Make sure your social media profile is up to date and reflects who you want to be.

Ask for regular reviews with your manager to get feedback on progress and seek out a mentor in your organisation who you admire.

If you need to brush up in an area - build that into your formal training plan or request support to gain some external education.

Your career development is your responsibility. Say what you feel and don't take things personally when given feedback. Treat input as a way to grow.

  1. How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?

Hugely - I still have a mentor - who fortunately is also a partner. I gain huge value every day from his knowledge and style. I believe that you never stop learning. I would guard against perpetual coaching. And certainly getting too much input can be overwhelming and confusing. But you will know when you are inspired and are getting results that you are on the right track.

  1. Do you think networking is important and if so, what 3 tips would you give to a newbee networker

150% - it’s the key to business success. Building confidence, key contacts, industry knowledge all come through networking. My tips would be to sign up to groups online that interest you and aim to attend 2-3 a month. Get involved in 1-2 projects that involve a networked group a year.

Make sure you use LinkdedIn and Twitter to feed/support these efforts and build out your circle.

  1. What does the future hold for you?

I am very excited about the opportunity I and my team have. The world of finance is changing radically through the impact of technology. This has radical implications for the way in which societies operate in the future. Our work with large enterprises trying to get to grips with how innovation affects their performance and future allows us to gain deep insight into their challenges and opportunities. We work with creative, dynamic and powerful people every day across the world.

And this is only set to expand. So who knows what the future truly holds but right now – it’s looking bright and very fulfilling.