Inspirational Woman: Britt Endemann | Partner & Co-Head of Data Governance, Technology Solutions & Forensics practice, Forensic Risk Alliance

Britt Endemann Britt is a Partner based in FRA’s London and Washington, DC offices, and is co-head of its Data Governance, Technology Solutions and Forensics practice.

She has extensive experience assisting companies with advanced technology-driven solutions and AI technologies to address corruption risks and financial crimes.

Britt travels the globe advising companies and C-suite management—particularly in the banking, financial services, telecommunications, and manufacturing sectors—on issues relating to risk mitigation, developing innovative technology solutions and defensible protocols related to cross-border investigations in Europe, the United States, Asia and the Middle East.

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

I started out working in the financial industry, but soon became unimpressed with the “boys’ world” that it turned out to be. I went to work for a law firm, where my background in finance meant that I was involved in reviewing financial records, and assisting with defending complaints filed against stockbrokers. Using technology-assisted review of banking data and complex financial data sources was my first real opening to the technology world.

I began working on internal investigations, particularly around technology and preparing electronic data for review and analysis. I soon realised there was a significant gap between the business’ legal and technology divisions, and there was a growing strategic need to bring them together more cohesively.

With the advent of social media, I saw more and more opportunities to combine my tech and business experience in the context of litigation matters. I ended up creating a consulting team within the firm specifically for white collar and antitrust litigation to assist lawyers and and clients navigate the various risk factors that were cropping up around the expansion of technology and the need to explain a client’s business technology infrastructure to the authorities and courts.

When Forensic Risk Alliance (FRA) approached me to spearhead its Data Governance, Technology Solutions and Forensics Practice, having the opportunity to build a truly integrated core offering that integrates equally both technology and business seemed like the perfect next step. The FRA Data Governance practice comprises a group of advisory consultants, technology solutions and an internal development team. Together, we develop our own mid-ware and consult with external clients as well as our internal forensic accountants and data analysts based around the globe.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not at all; I initially started in business and finance as the most direct step from my degree in business. However, I’ve always been fascinated by computer science, and as my career gradually brought me deeper into the world of tech, I soon became self-taught on aspects such as coding and infrastructure. It was this interest that led me to realise how and why the integration of technology and business is so necessary and should not be separated, leading me to my current role at FRA.

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

I found it initially difficult to break into the technology industry, especially with my non-traditional technology background. Because of this, I made sure to keep up-to-date with the latest in my field to ensure I didn’t fall behind. With the industry still constantly innovating, as well as being the largest growing sector in the world, I still see it as hugely important to keep up with its fast pace of change in order to stay ahead.

I’ve also found that computer science is a notoriously male-dominated field. Therefore, being a leading female professional has long been a challenge, and I’ve had particular difficulties in the past with recruiters often not putting me forward for senior leadership roles. This is something I still continue to see, and now that I am more senior, I have made it a personal priority to ensure FRA ensures gender diversity and equality in our recruiting for roles across the business.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I am most proud of building a technology-led department within a consulting firm that is headed up by two women—myself and FRA Founding Partner, Frances McLeod. To do this, we responded and adapted to the needs of the industry, bringing technology and business together. We completely overhauled our team, recruiting top talent from around the globe to ensure we had exactly the right skills in place to achieve our vision of a data governance practice that marries technology with high-end consulting.

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

Failing and making mistakes. Learning from every project is crucial and I’ve found that attempting to achieve perfection can quite often lead to failure. I am a believer in documenting “lessons learned” after each case. These lessons eventually translate to updated work flows and policies.

Not only that, team effort is just as important as individual achievement. I would not be where I am now without listening to the teams around me and constantly learning from others. I know that it’s much more beneficial in the long term to acknowledge when you’re wrong so that you can keep learning and moving forward.

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

One of the biggest mistakes that tech people make is the assumption they are the ones that stay behind the scenes within a business. However, I would say that technology focused individuals should always make the time to learn as much as they can about their business, and how their products and services are used on a day-to-day basis. This will produce a greater understanding of the business and, as a result, they will find it much easier to excel in their technology career. To build technology solutions you have to understand the business use and the business must be involved.

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

Although things are starting to change, fewer than 40% of women with computer science degrees remain in technology and tend to leave the industry after 10 years. This pales into comparison with men who usually stay to work their way up. It’s clear the tech industry is truly male dominated – especially when it comes to events where men are usually keynote speakers.

However, we’re starting to see women moving more and more into senior leadership roles in tech at big companies. While this is hugely positive, it’s important that men already in the industry support the movement of women into technology-based roles.

To really overcome the barriers to success, I’d advise all women to be strong and sure of your own talent – don’t just compete simply because there are men there and don’t compare yourself to others. Rather than end up in a gender war, let your talent and skills speak for themselves.

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

Firstly, recruitment agencies should ensure they are putting a 50:50 split of men and women on the table for job applications. This will mean that ultimately, companies will achieve a 50:50 split at every level of the business, which is especially important when it comes to senior management.

Secondly, companies themselves should ensure that job descriptions are written in gender neutral terms to ensure they are inclusive of everyone.

Lastly, companies should try to ensure that all colleagues are given equal opportunities to speak up and share ideas. Allowing women to be visible and present to the wider company will encourage younger team members to aspire to leadership roles.

There is currently only 17% 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 promote women to senior management positions to ensure an equal gender split across the board in all sectors of businesses. Because, until this happens, women won’t be attracted to certain industries, which is quite often the reputation that tech holds. We see on a regular basis that women will have the same title for many years and are disqualified for promotions due to reasons such as maternity leave. With male outsiders coming in to replace them, the gender gap gets wider and wider as people start to progress up the career ladder.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I highly recommend watching videos of Anne Wojcicki, Co-Founder and CEO for 23andMe. She is a true inspiration for all female techies and shows leadership with technology and business integration at its best; her company helps users learn about their ancestry, genealogy, and inherited traits via at-home genetics test kits and genetic mapping research. 23andMe became the first company to offer autosomal DNA testing for ancestry, becoming a pioneer in the field, and developing technology that has lead the way for every other at-home genetic testing service to come after it.

In addition to that, I always keep up to date with the latest business and tech news. My favourite sites are MIT Technology Review, Barrons and the Financial Times.

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Stephen Mercer featured

HeForShe: Stephen Mercer | Partner, Deloitte

Stephen Mercer

Stephen Mercer is a partner and leads Deloitte’s technology consulting practice.

Stephen advises clients on implementing technologies to support business change, increase business performance and improve governance. He is based in Manchester.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

I am married to an Aerospace engineer who worked for 20 years in a male dominated environment and I saw first-hand how attitudes at the time impacted her both at work and sometimes at home. Whilst every industry and sector has moved on, in many cases considerably, my memories of her experiences still make me cringe.

In more recent years as the leader of Deloitte’s technology business I have an important ongoing responsibility for ensuring we promote and maintain a respectful and inclusive culture which allows everyone to flourish.

And yes, I do have a daughter who currently (despite my best promptings) refuses to code : (

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

Ultimately, we’re all striving to develop leadership teams which reflect society. The technology sector and other industries which rely more heavily on STEM based students, have on ongoing challenge to attract the right numbers of women into the workplace and then support women through their careers into leadership positions. Positively, attitudes and practices have changed and are changing much more quickly now thanks to exciting communities and bodies such as WeAreTechWomen, Women Who Code, CodeFirst:Girls, STEMettes Everywoman and others. However, many leadership teams are still predominantly male. Therefore, expecting women to be the sole proponents of supporting and driving gender equality simply doesn’t work. Men need to play a prominent role too. I do believe most male leaders also want to see change and are committed to making it happen.

At Deloitte my Technology leadership team have performance goals which relate to our firm-wide gender diversity aims. All leadership team members also mentor women in their teams, particularly at the manager and senior manager grades where we still see the greatest attrition.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

We are talking about gender balance and equality and you can’t achieve this or expect it to be solved by only engaging 50 per cent of the population.  In my own experience, I do believe that how welcome men feel in the conversation can range quite significantly. I’ve been to many events where I felt hugely welcomed and it’s enabled me to develop really importance insights, for example on topics such as unconscious bias, by listening to the experiences of women in the workplace. I still go to the odd event where being one of the few pale (but hopefully not too) stale, males in the room where it can be a little uncomfortable. However it’s inevitable as society goes through this important transition that there is a lot of pent up ambition, emotion, and occasionally even anger. Men and women are passionate about making change rapidly so I’m ok with this, it just demonstrates that it’s important.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

It’s an interesting question. I think great awareness and progress has been driven through grass roots initiatives and organisations and networks which are gender based. And I think there will continue to be a need for these groups to exist for a little while yet. I believe they have greatly shifted the dial and been instrumental in increasing the number of girls and women choosing technology as a career.

They have also helped men to understand the need for dedicated communities focussing on this important issue that there is a problem that needs solving and its scale. I don’t think they make men think that gender equality isn’t their problem but sometimes may feel they can’t join the network or community or contribute to its success because they aren’t of that gender. This means they sometimes aren’t sure how best they can help.

What has been helpful for us at Deloitte is also focusing on respect and inclusion and creating an environment and culture that works for all. This means that everyone is part of and responsible for creating and driving change that benefits everyone.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

I think a lot of it is around education. When I first took on my current role, I felt a little nervous about saying the wrong thing. There are so many different perspectives for example on whether targets are a good thing or not (I strongly believe they are and back this up by the difference they have made to improving gender diversity in my own business), that you can spend too much time worrying about upsetting a community and not getting on and dealing with the issues.

I’m fortunate to be supported by a great Respect and Inclusion team including Shilpa Shah who also leads our Women in Tech Network and Programme which now has over a 1000 members. She took me on a roadshow of women in tech meetings and events which educated me on the nature of the problems we’re facing in the industry and this helped me find my own voice and purpose. This enables me to speak much more authentically than I would have otherwise done.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

Yes we have a formal mentoring programme and all of my leadership team provide mentoring, but really most of the partners in Deloitte now do this on an informal basis. As I mentioned earlier my main objective is to reach down into the manager and senior manager grades in our structure where we still see too many women leave the industry.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

I don’t want to generalise or stereotype but there is a tendency for women to want to be 100 per cent ‘ready’ before they consider putting themselves forward for role. This is clearly a key point in a consulting business where new roles on different client engagements open up daily. However the thing which I notice most frequently when mentoring women is how they react to my questions:

1) what would you like to be doing in two-three year’s time?

2) how will you get there?

3) who can support you achieving this?

In my experience men typically have much greater clarity on the third point. Meaning they’ve thought about who their stakeholders are and how they will find a way to interact and if necessary influence these people. Clearly there a huge number of things which go around this, including the fact work socials have frequently been developed by men for men and funnily enough more men got to know more men…however there are many practical ways you can meet, support, and work with your stakeholders in a way which can help your goals. This is one area I encourage all my mentees to develop their thinking.