Women in the financial services industry need to support one another and trust more in their own capabilities, according to panellists speaking at a ‘Women in FSI’ session at Sibos.
The discussion, which was hosted on the Microsoft booth, featured Rosie Mastrandrea, industry marketing leader at Microsoft; Dubie Cunningham, president of banking group at Zafin; Karen Del Vescovo, financial services lead for the USA at Microsoft; Willayna Banner, head of Web3/blockchain, banking, insurance and trust, cloud and artificial intelligence engineering at Microsoft; and Kalliopi Chioti, chief marketing and environmental, social and governance officer at Temenos.
Panellists began by discussing what has shaped them individually as leaders, before considering some of the challenges they have encountered, and the lessons they have learned, throughout their careers.
“When the opportunity presents itself, seize it,” said Del Vescovo, adding that rather than looking focusing on the challenges in a situation, it’s better to “think in the framework of solutions”. This messaging was echoed by Banner and Cunningham, who agreed that it is important to speak up if challenges arise in the workplace.
“Mico-moments happen everyday but there’s positive things that we can do to overcome them,” said Cunningham.
The panellists then explained how technology has helped them and the women they mentor to overcome challenges in the workplace.
Cunningham also advised women to focus on improving their communication skills. “If people can master sharing their ideas through a tool like Microsoft PowerPoint, then they’ll be more likely to achieve more in the workplace,” she said, noting that generative AI is helping employees to communicate.
In addition, panellists shared how the financial services industry can ensure AI-powered products and solutions are inclusive.
“It’s all about having a diverse team that help to create that technology,” said Cunningham. “We [financial services and technology providers] need to think about who we’re serving and what the tool is going to do.
“At the end of the day, diversity isn’t just about being male and female – it’s also about have an older person and new graduate on the job, as well as a range of other people in between.”
Banner added that a person’s own “board of directors” should be just as diverse as the industry aspires to be. This will ensure individuals can learn from a variety of perspectives.
“It’s about the value for what you bring to your company, as well as to your family and friends,” concluded Chioti. “There are going to be challenges in the way but it’s important to look at them as opportunities.”
Technology Record is at Sibos 2023, covering the latest news from Microsoft and its partners. Find out more here.