CEO, Innovate Finance
Can you please tell us about your career journey? Was this the field you had intended to go into?
My career journey was a little eclectic at first! As I didn’t get on my choice of graduate programme, I ended up working in fashion merchandising in Burlington Arcade for a year!
I quickly realised the City was more for me, and started as a temp on the Goldman Sachs equities trading floor (the old fashioned way of starting in the City) before taking a permanent role in European equities. After three years, I moved to the London Stock Exchange and subsequently NASDAQ, covering many different areas but mostly working with technology companies and internationally. I decided to move into Fintech three years ago as I believe passionately in open markets and competition and have always had a passion for technology.
Looking back, how have things changed over the past ten years in terms of diversity and career progression and what does the industry need to focus on today?
So much has changed for the better. Diversity is now on the agenda in every financial institution and there is mostly acceptance that a diverse workforce fosters different ideas and challenges traditional ways of thinking.
However, I’m concerned that we still have not seen enough change at Exco levels and unconscious bias is still deep rooted in many organisations hindering real progress.
Now industry needs to recognise that there has to be a shift change in working patterns and work-life balance. Technology has enabled remote and flexible working and we have to find innovative ways to keep senior women in the workplace and not lose their expertise. Companies need to also focus on inspiring the next generation of young female leaders and encouraging more digital skills.
What lessons have been learnt and how can senior managers, but in particular middle managers, drive change and retain people?
Retention is becoming a significant issue across many businesses. Millennials are helping to challenge the status quo by showing that they are much more willing to move to another company if their voices aren’t heard. This is going to force real change as it is essential to engage with the younger workforce and understand what motivates and drives them. Companies also need to consider offering training of more experienced employees who may be looking for a new challenge, rather than risk losing them. This has the potential to bring in more entrepreneurial thinking within big corporates which should in turn help them evolve.
We are entering a period of significant change with increased competition, machine learning and artificial intelligence. The most successful managers and companies will be those who embrace that change by challenging their own thinking and encouraging their teams to do the same. This in turn will inspire their employees.