Fresh off the back of winning PayExpo’s Payments Power 10 list this year, Andrea Dunlop, CEO of cards services and acquiring at Paysafe group is launching a new networking event for women in the payments tech industry. The first woman to win the accolade, Dunlop is now spearheading the initiative to help support women in the sector with demand for the inaugural event meaning applications are now closed.
Taking place in London this week over tapas and Rioja, the first Women in Paytech event is taking place in association with the Emerging Payments Association, on which Dunlop also sits as an advisory board member. This is the latest effort to tackle gender diversity issues and give women more of a voice in the financial tech industry, with others including the Femtech Leaders group, which you can hear more about in our most recent FinTalk podcast.
Here, we have a chat with Dunlop about how Women in Paytech came about, her experience working in the sector and what changes she’s like to see in the industry.
Can you tell us a bit about how you got into financial technology?
I served in the British Military for over 10 years in telecommunications. On leaving the military I worked as a network engineer and by chance MasterCard was one of our clients. I was fortunate enough to get to know one of the directors who offered me a role based out of their head of office in Brussels working on their member technical integrations around Europe. From there I worked in a variety of financial technology businesses including Capital One, Experian, Barclaycard, RBSG, Visa and now Paysafe.
How did the idea for Women in Paytech come about?
There are now many networking opportunities for women but relatively few focused on the payment sector. Among the many I have attended, it was never clear what it is women were looking for; is it more access to networking, mentoring, education or a platform where views can be expressed and heard? The idea of this really came from speaking to members of the Emerging Payments Association and I thought we could organise something specific for payments and the payments technology sector and build networking and learning opportunities, as well as find a common ground that helps women to advance their careers and learning.
What is its mission goal/what do you want to achieve with it?
Essentially it’s about giving a platform to express views and opinions and also to aid in driving diversity within their own businesses. This is not about sexism, it is to celebrate that we can be strong, we can be leaders and we can go far in a business if we choose to.
Who is it for? Are men welcome?
Everyone is welcome and although we say its women in Paytech actually it’s about diversity. Men are of course welcome. In fact, we have two male speakers which I am really look forward to hearing from on the 6th July.
What are the advantages of joining/attending?
You will be part of a new and growing forum which will be promoting diversity in the workplace.
How regular will meet ups be?
We are not sure yet but hopefully quarterly so that we can keep this subject fresh.
What’s your experience been as a woman working in finance/tech?
I have to lead, to be a role model, to do it myself and to know that I have a responsibility to the next woman to help someone else catch a break. And it’s all hard, right? Always speaking up, and debating proactively and constructively about what needs to be done for the greater good of a company. And I always do this, in spite of negativity or political agendas. I am my own woman, and I am ‘Do or Die’ on it. This makes for a lonely position but it’s how I lead, I am not afraid of the risk of challenging these areas and living the consequences.
I also know I’m incredibly lucky at Paysafe to have been given a break myself to the top level of a FTSE-listed company and it’s down to two great Canadian Entrepreneurs – Joel Leonoff and Danny Chazonoff – my group CEO and COO respectively. Because you know what? There are some great men out there who want us to succeed too.
What are the challenges for women working in this industry and has that changed over the past few years?
The main issue is to be the best that we can be as women in business: to be authentic and not to be afraid to be ourselves, we need to be on the front line in leading change. If we have the courage to do that then we can take others on that journey too and keep creating the right environment for break-through.
What changes would you like to see in the industry to help support women in payments and fintech?
Ultimately, it would be great to see more diversity in senior positions within some of the major paytech and fintech businesses, as that is why we have set this platform up. It would be great also to use this network as a way of supporting each other in developing careers.
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