This October at The Fintech Times is all about shining a spotlight on the incredible women working in the fintech industry, sharing their greatest achievements, their biggest challenges and how they can make a difference through mentorship and collaboration.
Though progress has been made to reduce the gender gap in fintech, the industry still has far to go until it hits true representation and champions full equality.
To help highlight the influential and significant contributions of women to the industry, we asked influential fintech leaders (who just so happen to be women) to share their thoughts on the importance of mentorship and knowledge sharing when fostering women’s talent in the industry.
Growth and development
Meghan Holmes, COO at Advyzon Investment Management, said:
“Supporting and instilling confidence in women to pursue their goals is key. I’d encourage women to pursue mentors and build sponsors across genders. It’s natural for women to seek out female mentors. Having the ability to relate to the career and personal struggles other women have experienced is extremely helpful and has been an invaluable part of my growth and development.
“In addition to that, I’ve found working with male mentors has provided different insights and helped challenge me to grow in different ways. Let’s also not forget that the mentee isn’t the only one that learns and grows from a mentorship. The mentor is also impacted by these interactions. These male mentors will learn from you and the experiences you are facing as a female in this industry and how they can better support and develop women.”
Different backgrounds and perspectives
Nancy Sansom, chief commercial officer at accounts receivable automation software providers, Versapay, said:
“I don’t think mentorship has to be anything formal, but it’s important to have one or two people who “have your back,” providing encouragement as well as honest, tough feedback at critical moments in your career. Having unofficial mentors has been extremely helpful to me. These were special relationships with a handful of people that looked out for me and had my best interests in mind. They gave me advice over the years and challenged me to see things differently.
“Just as it’s important to have diverse teams, it’s important to have mentors who are both men and women and with different backgrounds and perspectives. The important thing is to seek advice and be open to learning from successful people in your life. For example, while women are often strong negotiators when negotiating for their companies or team members, they often struggle to negotiate for themselves. Several leaders I talked to have observed that men negotiate their salaries – when hired and during performance reviews – and women simply don’t. I have personally observed this many times. The male mentors that I have had have helped me learn to articulate my value and think through important salary negotiations and job changes.”
Aizhan Holovan, head of mobile financial services at Beeline Kazakhstan, part of the international telecommunications holding company VEON, said:
“I am a strong advocate of knowledge sharing, and believe that professionals across all industries should be selfless in passing on their unique experience and knowledge to colleagues, and this is especially true in the world of fintech. This is a really dynamic sector, where best practices and industry trends develop and change rapidly – this makes hands-on mentoring particularly valuable for our industry.
“However, there are broader challenges facing women in the workplace than are unrelated to fintech specifically. I have come across some women who suffer from insecurities, which probably stem from outdated societal norms, and, as a result, struggle to make themselves heard in the workplace, especially when communicating with more senior male colleagues.
“Whenever I see a situation like this at Beeline, I make sure to step in and take on a mentoring role, providing advice and guidance. It is always a joy for me to see women overcome any insecurities and really blossom professionally.”
Diversity drives innovation
Carrie Colbert, CEO at venture capital fund, Curate Capital, said:
“Mentorship and knowledge sharing are absolutely vital in fostering women’s talent in the finance and tech industries. At Curate Capital, we believe that diversity drives innovation and progress. Women often face unique challenges in these male-dominated fields, including a lack of representation and access to opportunities.
“Mentorship provides a guiding light, offering insights, advice, and support from experienced professionals who have navigated similar paths.
Knowledge sharing complements mentorship by creating a culture of continuous learning. It allows women to access valuable resources, stay updated on industry trends, and bridge the knowledge gap. When women are empowered with knowledge and mentored by industry leaders, they are better equipped to excel in their careers, shatter glass ceilings, and contribute to the industry’s growth.”
Barbara Fleming, head of fund and sponsor banking at Grasshopper Bank, said:
“In my experience the best mentorship relationships happen when the mentor truly has a vested interest in helping the mentee become the best version of herself while navigating her professional growth. By eliminating preconceived results, the outcomes are more actionable, authentic and meaningful, even if a detour is on the horizon. Each woman’s journey is unique and so should her mentorship experience be.”