Tina Valand

In this ongoing series, we speak to our winners about life after winning a TechWomen100 Award.

Now in their fourth year, the TechWomen100 Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of women in tech – the emerging tech talent and role models for the future.

We spoke with Tina Valand, who won a TechWomen100 Award in 2019.

Tina is an experienced strategic alliances and technology director who has been driving industry changes and collaboration between partner ecosystems.

With 16 years of experience driving large scale digital transformation in financial services, healthcare and government projects, Tina is currently working at a leading anti money laundering and know your customer (KYC) Fintech as the Partnerships Director for Encompass Corporation. She is responsible for developing strategic relationships with multi territory managed services providers, working closely with the technology teams and executing the partnerships strategy.

Tina started her career as a consultant with Accenture. Tina project managed complex large scale strategy led technology and infrastructure transformations. The next step in her career was working at PwC managing technology strategic alliances working across pure-play software vendors. Tina also has led large scale digital transformation in finance transformation and regulatory change.  She is experienced in leading disruptive technology initiatives including cyber security, AI, blockchain and cloud transformation and has a proven track record with designing and implementation of governance and best practices methodologies. She operated across multiple teams where she was responsible for flagship EMEA sales and marketing events.

Tina has won the PwC award for “winning team”, and was a nominated for the PwC consulting Awards 2019 for “Being agile & flexible”. She was also a nominee for the Win Tech Series awards 2019 under the category “Leader of the Year”.

While her role in coaching start-ups, C-Suite tech partners, D&I focus groups and Women-in-Tech initiatives gives her opportunity to change industry, Tina is an active force in school workshops and with maternity returners, demonstrating her passion for the workforce of the future. Tina firmly believes that technology has a crucial role in climate and sustainability, diversity and inclusion and always strives to make a difference. Following her passion to help others, Tina has founded VinayHelix which is a coaching and mentoring network set up to support people whose career has been impacted by the pandemic.

How did you feel when it was announced that you’d won a TechWomen100 award?

I remember the moment clearly when I received the email I had won TechWomen 100 2019, it honestly meant the world to me. If anyone had told me a few years ago when I had just returned to work (after my second maternity leave and was really struggling) that this would happen two years later. I would have said it was impossible! I celebrated over breakfast with my husband, daughter and son who are the core of my world. My coffee tasted so good that day! I called my parents who have always believed in me, supported me. I called my younger sister and best friend who is wise beyond her years always offering pragmatic, logical advice. I called my coach who two years earlier changed the direction of my career. That weekend we celebrated at my favourite restaurant and it felt like the feeling I got as a child when it was your birthday and you are excited, glowing of being a year older! (unlike in adulthood when you start counting the greys and wrinkles!)

Everyone was super proud but to me it was so important for people to know that it’s been a journey. I hope to inspire other mums, flexible workers, people who are carers, people who have loved ones facing mental health challenges that you don’t have to come from privilege to represent something and be a role model.

Please tell us what has happened in your career since winning the TechWomen100 award?

TechWomen 100 award was life changing. It wasn’t just about the recognition, it opened doors, created meaningful friendships, networks and opportunities to attend great events including the virtual We Are The City conference and gave me a platform and confidence to be brave and take risks.  One of the first things was the opportunity to speak at schools inspiring children to study STEM subjects, sharing my journey and path to the  accolade.  I am very passionate about the importance of supporting the next generation of talent.

I had a fantastic ten years at PwC and worked on innovative technology projects building my skills in strategic alliances.

After the winners were announced, I had several new job opportunities and was asked to speak at webinars and events. Ultimately, I found a role that really aligned to my core values as the Partnerships Director at Encompass Corporation where I joined in March 2020. It was the first week the UK went into lockdown, so I onboarded completely virtually.  I only met my team in person months later for the first time! Regardless, I felt such a strong bond, I knew what their homes looked like, who they lived with and what they like to drink- all over virtual interactions.

Sometimes you feel something in your gut is right for you and you need to be brave and embrace change. Three things that are really  important to me are:

  1. People – for me it’s about being around talented, inspired individuals in technology.
  2. Common Purpose-  To be working together for a goal that everyone is aligned to and be part of something big and exciting.
  3. Doing the right thing. I think this one is the most important to me. I heard the founder’s story of how something bad happened and they aspired to ensure it didn’t happen to anyone else.

Encompass is a leading RegTech SaaS based platform that provides Know your customer due diligence on demand powered by intelligent process automation. At Encompass the leadership creates a collaborative culture with clear direction, you can feel the energy, passion and we are lucky to be growing in the current climate. My team is kind, hard working, always willing to share ideas and lead by someone who is inspirational, has emotional intelligence combined with integrity and always puts family first. Positive people with positive intent.

Over the next few months I am working with  fintech recruitment companies to promote female talent in this sector.  I am studying for a qualification and aim to finish my book.  I am also working with my colleagues and the leadership to explore D& I initiatives at Encompass. Diversity is crucial to success in business, and creates the type of environment to attract exceptional talent. Recent events have highlighted we all need to do our part. I’ve made time in my life to do what I love; focusing on Art, painting and creative activities with my children. Career wise, I am focused on developing some really exciting partnerships, and have learnt so much about the importance of data and automation in KYC. I would love it if some of the great talent we have at Encompass win TechWomen100 2020 and of course I am doing everything to support this!

Meeting other TechWomen100 has disrupted the way that I think about myself.  I was so clouded with self doubt of what I was capable of. Sometimes struggling to acknowledge that thoughts I had would be valid. Feeling different and wanting to hide it. I saw some core things about me as flaws, so for example I always seemed to take things personally if something had gone wrong at work, I would hold myself accountable for the team and had my heart on my sleeve caring for those around me. I wished I could be more of a robot and be able to just switch off. I couldn’t.  I saw having my heart on my sleeve and caring so much, as a flaw I needed to fix. I felt so much emotion and often drowned in a vortex of self doubt trying to hide it.

That has completely changed. I see it as a gift. The ability to create new relationships with people whom I’ve never met, to inspire junior people to voice their opinions about diversity and inclusion in their own organisation.  To use the emotions and help people in the current environment. I realised because of my openness, people trusted and turned to me with some really difficult situations. The global pandemic has given rise to so many people facing adversity, losing their jobs, medical professionals seeing things they can’t unsee.

This is why I’m working to set up VinayHelix.com.  Vinay is my son’s name in hindi it translates to humility and guidance. Helix, is a structure representing steps in the right direction ( which aren’t always linear). I am creating a platform where people can share the challenges they faced, discuss what they have learned,  where people can  exchange offers of mentoring, advice and help to inspire to be the best version of you at work. I want people to know that there are people out there that are willing to help. Just be bold and ask.  Based on four themes:

  • I need help
  • I want to learn.
  • I want to improve
  • I want to contribute

I was lucky enough to come across some exceptional mentors at PwC who believed in me. I had senior sponsors in the UK and US firm that really invested time into my development goals and aspirations. I will always be thankful for their belief and seeing my potential at a time when I did feel a bit lost. To be that is true leadership – getting the best out of your diverse team. This support helped me lead strategic relationships, build talented teams and most importantly feel fulfilled at work. Not everyone has access to mentors like that in technology.

The last year has been the best and also the difficult with several personal challenges. My LinkedIn and social media is full of all the positive images but I want women out there to know that in reality we all struggle, have our own doubts, face adversity and unexpected challenges that we share with those closest to us. It’s how you deal with them, take the learnings, be empathetic and inspire others.

What advice would you give to someone else going through the award’s process?

Don’t underestimate yourself. Make sure you reach out proactively to your network, past TechWomen100 winners to help and guide you. Really take time to write your submission and ensure to include what you have done, what you want to do and be transparent about where you started, where you are now and where you want to go! Also, be mindful of the big impact you can have by doing small things. If you notice someone around you that isn’t themselves. Don’t ask ” Are you ok? ” as people are conditioned to say ” Yes, I’m fine”. Make yourself vulnerable, share a genuine insight and see what amazing, surprising,  worrying thoughts you get back. Finally, be brave to ask the questions no one else is.

What tips would you give to our other members to enhance their careers? 

Be kind, be real, be free is my advice to anyone who wants to enhance their careers. Find the core values of what makes you happy.

“The world is full of rights and wrongs, black, white, brown and a spectrum of the rainbows in between, sometimes all we see is different versions of social media facades. Our internal perceptions make us who we grow to be, our interactions with those around us is what matters.  In the end there is nothing left of the real you but an interpretation of yourself in someone else’s mind. In this world, everyone has a secret they cannot share. Open your thoughts and look inside and you will see the broken fragments of the pictures that makes us who we are today. Be kind. Be real. Be free.”  Tina Valand

The 2020 TechWomen100 Awards are open for nominations on 03 August 2020. Our awards focus solely on women working in tech below director level. We hope that by highlighting the accolades of up-and-coming inspirational female tech talent, we can help to create a new generation of female role models for the industry, and a pipeline of future leaders.