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. 

BUY YOUR TICKETS

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.


Business Woman in tech. Stronger together, Happy women or girls standing together , girls, power, strong, strength, feminism Feminine, woman empowerment, vector illustration.

Celebrating and championing women in the technology sector – it’s what our future generations deserve

Business Woman in tech. Stronger together, Happy women or girls standing together , girls, power, strong, strength, feminism Feminine, woman empowerment, vector illustration.By Krista Griggs Head of Financial Services and Insurance at Fujitsu UK & Ireland

From work to online banking and keeping in touch with friends and family to booking a gym class, technology impacts every aspect of our life, every day.

Yet, despite the universal usage, the industry is still dominated by white men, with only 19% of the tech workforce made up of female directors.

Considering that organisations with gender diverse leadership teams outperform those without, this must change. It makes business sense for UK employers to reach greater gender diversity levels across the organisations, but especially at the top. The reason? Because half of the users of technology – whether it’s a social media, banking app, laptop, phone – are women. Technology is a fundamental part of life, so women must have a say in its evolution so that its innovation and evolution is unbiased.

The benefits of a diverse workforce

Working in the tech sector, specifically the financial services and insurance industry, I know how competitive the market is, and a particular trend we’re seeing is that consumers are increasingly demanding more personalised services. This is where the benefits of a balanced workforce come into fruition, as diverse teams enable banks and insurers to be much more cognisant of the needs of their customers, with strategies and decisions reflecting the communities they serve. In fact, businesses that have diverse teams see a direct positive impact on profits.

At Fujitsu, since being in the first 1% of UK organisations to publish our gender pay gap in 2017, we have achieved a 34% reduction in the gap and 50% of our UK leadership team is female. As a result, we’re seeing consistent higher engagement scores – showing that creating a working culture that is better for women, is for the betterment of everyone.

Another opportunity a balanced workforce brings is the ability to accelerate innovation. Tackling the skill gap will help ease the war on talent. Now, it’s vital that female candidates, whether it be through apprenticeships or graduate schemes are championed to join an organisation, as it will help them accelerate innovation. Similarly, empowering women to upskill within the business is also another way for talent to come to the forefront and flourish. It’s crucial that a wider demographic is utilised to combat this gap, and subsequently, it will give organisations a competitive advantage.

So if there is to be real progress in the industry, it’s key we champion female leaders such as Alison Rose at NatWest and Anne Boden at Starling. Not only are they leading some of the world’s most successful businesses, but they’re also bringing different perspectives and reframing stereotypes. In fact, the power of these women being spotlighted can drive real change, here’s how.

Change the narrative

Although women in leadership positions within the tech industry are admired, they’re often described as ‘firsts’ or ‘only’s’. Therefore, if we continue to raise their profiles – along with other women of various seniority in the industry – it will begin to remove the ‘othering’ connotation and subtly shift the narrative. From here, it will position them as leaders of equal standing to their male counterparts. In turn, the tech industry can entice an entirely new generation of women to follow in their footsteps, showcasing that they can have long and fulfilling careers.

This is particularly important given that we’re seeing the younger generation seeking out purpose in their careers and it’s often female leaders who can champion the social value that technology can bring to society. So, showcasing impactful initiatives from female leaders is crucial in onboarding the new generation, and in turn, ridding any future gender imbalances. For example, at Fujitsu we host ‘Our Girls Days’. These are a fun way to encourage STEM activities for 7-11 year-olds and introduce them to current STEM female leaders. And in a digital age, it could be providing a virtual event, such as inspirational talks from female role models to female students as a way to celebrate the UN International Girls in ICT Day.

Accelerate championing women

Celebrating women in the tech industry is vital if we are to break current bias and unconscious biases that are present in our society. Bias is part of human nature – we frame our decisions based on our experience, our culture, and the stories we tell ourselves. This is well illustrated in the book “invisible women” which highlights that our society is framed from the male perspective and is further exasperated by the small 5% increase of female C-suite executives in corporate business environments between 2016 and 2021. That means, if we’re to change perspectives and how organisations make decisions, it’s critical that we’re having open and honest discussions – it’s what will uncover an awareness that may otherwise be lacking. Only then can we reach a considered and inclusive approach, with the outcome not only impacting the internal business operations but society at large.

Looking forward, we still have a lot of work to do if we’re to strive for a balanced workforce, but my advice to women looking to start their career is to be ambitious, learn and grow at every step, be unafraid to make mistakes, uncover what success means to you and don’t worry about what other people think. Your strength is in what sets you apart. And, if you’re looking to address any gaps in your knowledge or experience, build a strong network of trusted people who can help and support you. If you have a positive attitude, you’d be surprised how many people are willing to help you succeed. One thing is for sure, you will always have an ally in me.