Inspirational Woman: Krista Griggs | Head of Financial Services and Insurance, Fujitsu

Meet Krista Griggs, Head of Financial Services and Insurance at Fujitsu

Krista Griggs

As the Head of Financial Services and Insurance Krista is changing the way Fujitsu help their customers transform their business. With over 20 years’ experience in designing and implementing digital transformations across various business domains, she understands a wide range of stakeholder perspectives. She’s built a strong team of consultants who bring deep business and technical expertise. With their support Krista is constantly looking for innovative ways to help Fujitsu’s customers succeed and grow.

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

I started my career in my native Netherlands in 1997, moving to London in 2000. I went through a series of roles when starting out from a software developer to designer, as well as a team lead for various financial services companies – setting up new teams for different clients.

Since then, I’ve worked in different industries and different roles, working my way up from developer to architect and now leadership in both start-ups and large corporates. I think it’s the variety of roles and breadth of experiences that makes me a good leader now. I pull what I need from each of those perspectives to address the challenges I come across. Currently, as Head of the Financial Services and Insurance (FIS) department, I’m setting the direction to execute Fujitsu’s vision to shift from a system integrator/ infrastructure service provider to a digital transformation partner. I love collaborating with exceptional experts in new technologies, and the industry is one driving lots of change.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not at all! I’ve had a squiggly career. And considering most of the roles I’ve had didn’t exist when I started, that’s not a bad thing. We’re in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution, so professions are likely to change a lot in the next decade. I’ve just always moved to roles that piqued my interest or where I could add the most value. I took “the path less travelled” and it has indeed made all the difference.

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

Early in my career, I was hugely ambitious. I was hungry to learn and grow, devouring new challenges. However, I was also impatient and easily bored, but also not afraid to make mistakes – after all, that’s what testing is for in software development.

However, as I got more senior, I became more cautious. I tried to fit the mould and had a growing list of stakeholders to keep happy. Getting married and having children also had an impact on my attitude. Whilst I continued working – part-time at first – I found myself frustrated and stuck in my role. I didn’t think I could get a new job that would offer the same flexibility. It wasn’t until someone else challenged me, and asked whose permission I was waiting for, that I realised the only person able to change it was me. It was the change of perspective I needed to break out of the situation I had allowed myself to get caught up in. I reconnected with that young woman to become fearless of who I could be if only I tried.

I found a new job and asked them to match my work-life preferences. They said yes. I have had multiple new roles since then, and I’ve always kept hold of a level of flexibility to suit my family and personal life. For me, being able to balance my responsibility is a major factor in achieving success.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

In the financial services sector, Fujitsu traditionally provided managed infrastructure services, with an associated waterfall approach to transformation. In my current role as Chief Architect, I identified that the market was changing, and customers were demanding a more flexible and consumable service to transform their legacy technology estates. So, in early 2020, I built a team comprising of business development managers, industry consultants and architects to respond to this. I implemented agile cadences and dashboards to help the team develop new value propositions for our customers. This enabled fast learning, as well as re-use and development of the propositions, alongside transforming our own ways of working, thinking and collaborating.

To further drive this innovative approach into our traditional delivery organisation, I collaborated with the Product Managers to reshape our approach in response to the conversations we were having with our customers. Using my team’s vertical expertise to drive out the business, technical and commercial requirements, I championed and steered the team that developed the adaptive transformation framework. This “Adaptive Organisation” portfolio of services is now being adopted across the business, and 65% of our existing portfolio is aligned behind it.

The new approach allowed our sales teams to have different conversations with our customers, providing business insights rather than technology solutions. Customers perceived us as transformation partners rather than technology providers. We delivered proof of concepts to earn the trust and confidence of both our customers, and our internal stakeholders. As a result, my team developed a £250M pipeline of opportunities for the sector, with a focus on digital transformation.

To conclude, what was effectively a trial, is now a strategic initiative to support our customers’ growth into an adaptive organisation. We have moved from an experiment to being the exemplar, showcasing our ability to transform internally. As Head of Financial Services and Insurance, I am proud to be recognised for my thought leadership skills, driving strategic support and investment across the business – helping my team deliver on the promise we’ve created.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

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

I’m forever curious to learn new things and easily get bored. I also set high standards for myself and the people I work with, and I think it’s that drive to learn and to succeed that has been a major factor in my success. I’m forever pushing to explore new boundaries in both work and my personal life, to deliver the best possible outcomes. This means I always see a problem as a ‘surprising twist’, which can be explored and solved – not seeing it as the end of the road.

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

To women looking to start in IT – be it at the beginning of their career, or as a career change – I would say to find your passion and what drives you to succeed. Look for opportunities where you feel you can add value and get stuck in. Don’t worry too much about what other people have done before you. Your strength is what sets you apart. To address any gaps in your knowledge or experience, build a strong network of trusted people who can support you. And when you have a positive attitude, you’d be surprised how many people are willing to help you succeed.

Finally, own your own career, and stop asking for permission. Managing stakeholder expectations is important to building trust, but don’t lose sight of your personal goals in the process.

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

I am a great believer in role models, so I celebrate strong, powerful women in the tech industry and see this as a way of overcoming barriers as it positions them as the ‘norm’ rather than an ‘anomaly’. For example, by being visible and vocal about the value I bring to the sector, I hope to inspire more women to believe in themselves and take that leap.

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

Build internal communities to support and encourage each other. Within Fujitsu the Leading Lights cohorts have been incredible in providing a community of trust. This has been invaluable during tough times, as it allows us to celebrate success together. So, it would be great if further organisations could encourage all female employees to join these networks as they’re a way of celebrating achievements, inspiring others and raising awareness of the challenges many of our role models have overcome.

There are currently only 21 per cent 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 want to ensure that the tech industry is no longer framed from the ‘typical male perspective’, it’s important to be aware of any biases that may be present in the workplace and for those in the sectors to challenge daily decisions. Only when traditional outlooks are overturned will it assure future generations of females that they’re on track for a long and rewarding career – and that’s true regardless of industry or location.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Books:

  • Anything by Simon Sinek
  • Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg
  • Invisible Women, by Caroline Criado Perez
  • Let It Go by Steve Shirley
  • Wolfpack by Abby Wambach

Ted Talks:

Finally, if your company doesn’t have a women’s network – set up your own.