This October at The Fintech Times is all about the incredible women working in the fintech industry. With women still forming only around 30 per cent of the workforce, it’s important to spotlight those who are working to make a change and blazing a path for those to follow.
Here, Marika Lulay, Peg Johnson, Elena Volotovskaya and Meitra Aycock share how they’re smashing the glass ceiling.
Marika Lulay, CEO at GFT Technologies, a digital transformation firm
“Throughout my journey to becoming CEO of GFT, one of the world’s fastest-growing digital transformation companies, I’ve had to smash a number of glass ceilings. The first was when I decided to enter the technology industry in the 80s, at a time when very few people were studying computing and most expected me to do something more ‘traditional’.
“Another moment that has stuck with me is when I clashed with a male colleague at a company that I co-founded. He argued (and succeeded) in raising his salary above mine – although we originally agreed to run the company on equal terms, sharing risk and upside equally. He claimed that my work was worth less than his own—an accusation that I attributed to his opinion of my gender, not my work ethic. I decided then that I would not allow unequal treatment at any company I worked for.
Lulay continued: “I encountered yet another glass ceiling when I returned to work after giving birth, while my husband stayed home with our son full-time. Many people did not understand, but my husband and I agreed that for us this made sense – I would focus on my career and he would give up his; which was almost unheard of at the time.
“Now, as CEO of GFT, I can proudly say that we champion equality not just for women, but for people of any gender, nationality or sexual orientation. As a global company with a presence in more than 15 markets, it’s important to me that we consider what the ‘glass ceiling’ looks like for every individual, and create an environment to support that.”
Peg Johnson, SVP of fintech at Ubiquity, business process outsourcing provider
“I’m not sure I have ‘smashed’ it yet, but I sure think I can see through it by living the ’24-hour rule’. I give myself a 24-hour window to celebrate the win or lament the loss. It helps me nullify past mistakes, navigate present obstacles, and look at future opportunities.”
“Also, I make sure I show up, lean in, and respectfully speak when I have an opinion on any topic. There is a perception that in order to be successful as a woman you have to give up something along the way. I did make some sacrifices, such as missing some ball games, a first-pitch milestone, the loss of a first tooth, and familiar nighttime routines.
“But I am setting an example for our boys that a woman can have it all, she can see the world and be their world when she is home.”
Elena Volotovskaya, CEO of Softline Venture Partners, a corporate venture fund
“To be taken seriously in the sphere of finance, women have to work twice as hard as men do. However, working in the over mode, meaning overloaded with tasks and taking overtime, will have little effect. It would be much more beneficial for a woman to expand her knowledge and network of professionals by studying.
“For me, a BA with honours in Economics wasn’t enough, so I decided to continue my education, but on a part-time basis. In such a way I got a PhD in economics when working as a commerce director at a CPA firm. A PhD not only sounds professional, it’s a quality mark of a person as someone who’s taken a deep dive into the very subtleties of the sphere they are working in and can make informed decisions in the future, both by understanding macroeconomic processes and knowing the specifics of a particular field.
“To become a leader, a PhD is not enough. So I continued my studies in the US to learn how to manage
financial organisations and engage with teams and got an MBA in Finance from California State University at East Bay. Soon I joined Softline as the investment director and after that headed Softline Venture Partners, the corporate fund.”
Meitra Aycock, SVP of operations at business payment firm Corpay
“I have had my share of big career moments that felt like smashing the glass ceiling, but I think the ceiling really comes down when we are surrounded by people (women) who look like us at all levels of the organisation.”