Sarah Greasley, Direct Line Group

Sarah Greasley, Direct Line Group

In the most recent InsurTech Bytes podcast, Sarah Greasley, CTO, Direct Line Group, opened up about her experience as a woman in fintech, the challenges and the solutions. FinTech Futures (Banking Technology’s sister company) uncovered the solutions for five of the key hurdles in her career.

1: Entrepreneurship and empowering risk taking

Challenge: From a young age, girls and women are not encouraged and supported to take risks in their tech careers and dive into entrepreneurship.

Solution: “The tech industry needs to be more welcoming,” says Greasley, agreeing that VCs need to be more mindful of which companies they invest in and their culture. While she notes that “it’s never been easier to start your own business” and that there are plenty of digital tools for anyone with a business idea to make the most of at low costs, it’s certainly not that easy. Empowering women needs to start at an early age. Schools and universities need to invest in making STEM subjects ‘cool’ and accessible, and for girls and young women to feel like they will be wonderful at whatever they choose to do. The entire path that the STEM industry follows needs to embody the change it wants to see.

2: Keeping up with change

Challenge: “The pace of change can work against you,” says Greasley. When women take their maternity leave for a year or take some time out, they can return to a firm and find themselves in a situation where the technology has moved onto something that is no longer familiar.

Solution: The key for individuals is to “move from being a specialist to being someone whose value is in the way that they do things,” says Greasley. Rather than a company valuing women for their specialist knowledge of a technology, they need to value the abundant skills that they have.

3: Culture

Challenge: “So many women have faced that ‘John McCain moment’ in a meeting where what they have been saying for ages is then said by the John McCain in the room and everyone agrees,” says Lisa Moyle, portfolio director, FinTech Futures.

Solution: An esteemed title gives recognition of capabilities of skills and expertise, giving meaning within a firm and the idea that credentials do not have to be scrutinised.

4: Unconscious bias

Challenge: “Making your voice heard,” says Greasley. “Women feel like they have to prove themselves when they walk into a room.”

Solution: Mentors – whether it’s long-term mentors, long-distant mentors or short-term mentors. “Long term mentors are valuable but if you’re clear about where you want to go, a mentor for one to two years is also really valuable to specialist knowledge,” says Greasley.

5. The posse

Challenge: “If there aren’t many females in an organisation or at levels it feels like you’re out on your own,” according to Greasley.

Solution: Increasing the numbers of women in a company and at each level within that company gives a support network that is invaluable.

By Sophie Cater, digital content editor, fintech, FinTech Futures.

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  • Tess Hilson-Greener 31 August, 2017 at 1118

    Insightful article.

    I also recommend to female engineers to reach outside of your organisation for women business mentors and coaches. Try to support and encourage each other, many jobs are done by referrals so help each other build a stronger female workforce of talented engineers.

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