Kate Patterson, Senior Manager UK Payments Schemes TSB
As the lead for managing TSB’s access to Payment Schemes, such as BACS, Faster Payments and Cheques, I report directly to the Payments Director. I enjoy the variety of the role and find that no two days are the same.
I started in banking in 1990, joining Barclays from college and working my way up the organization to a Vice President position. I worked in a project environment in the Technology Centre in Cheshire mostly on payments related projects including cash, ATM’s, cheques, electronic payments and then I was promoted to the Service Manager for Faster Payments when that was implemented in 2008. In 2010 my role was expanded and I moved to the Payments Office in Poole managing a team of 24, eventually becoming a similar role to now being the Industry Lead for Electronic UK and Euro Payment Schemes.
Earlier this year I joined TSB to lead on the Payments Schemes access, a hot topic currently in the Payments Industry.
The technology arena in the last 20 years has definitely been male dominated, but in more recent years this has slowly changed with more women getting involved in change programmes and in servicing live systems. TSB is already outperforming the FS sector in attracting and supporting female talent. At TSB we think it is good to be different. In fact being different from the crowd is what we are all about. Everyone working at TSB is a Partner – we work in partnership with each other and with customers. That’s why we encourage all of our partners to be themselves and help build the bank we want TSB to be. Diversity and Inclusion has been part of our efforts to be a different kind of bank and a large focus has always been placed on gender. 68% of our entire workforce is female, 42% of senior managers are female as are 31% of our Executives and this is increasing year on year.
I have proved that women can carve out strong careers within the technology environment based on confidence and knowledge of subject matter and standing up for myself. The implementation of Faster Payments in 2008 was my own breakthrough phase, helped by it being such a new environment and very much male dominated at the time. I brought a sense of calm and confidence with pragmatism into the mix, I was respected for my views and opinions and my specialist knowledge and this meant I was dominant in decision making. I gave as good as I got and I have not looked back since. And I am not alone, the last woman I hired was promoted from within an operational team and she hugely excelled in the management of a challenging team she had previously been a part of, and that is not an easy position to be in. The way she rolled up her sleeves and got stuck in really impressed me and she had some notable successes with the performance of team members.
There have been several role models for me in my career, male and female who have helped me to build confidence or work through hurdles of perception in a challenging performance environment. They inspired me by how they worked through the challenges that I was experiencing, i.e. I chose the person for the skill they could help me with. For my part, my advice to other women would be to decide what it is you want at the time, put in the effort to be the best you can be, ask for support from those you admire and trust, and take opportunities when they come along, or make them happen if they don’t, in my experience it has paid off!
Tamara Heber-Percy, Co-founder and CTO of Mr & Mrs Smith
Tamara Heber-Percy grew up between Ibiza
and Shropshire, and graduated from Oxford with a degree in languages (which has proved very useful in helping take Smith around the world). Her first job took her to Brazil
to launch a new energy drink and, since then, she has worked in marketing on both agency and client-side for brands such as Ericsson, Honda, Unilever and Swissair. A series of below-the-line data driven projects, including building large CRM databases through online channels helped her develop and hone her technical expertise
In 2002, she left to head up her own company, the County Register – an exclusive introductions agency – and to launch Mr & Mrs Smith. Combining travel expertise with technological knowledge, Tamara has been the architect behind the development of Mr & Mrs Smith’s e-commerce websites. As CTO, Tamara heads up the international development team and is responsible for the cutting-edge technology behind the website and the booking engine, as well as e-commerce innovations and consumer integration.
Since launching Mr & Mrs Smith in London in 2003, Tamara has helped the company grow internationally, opening additional offices in Melbourne, New York and, as of January 2013, Hong Kong. Smith’s global presence has allowed the introduction of a 24-hour customer-service response, which, naturally, brought new technical challenges.
With the help of her specialists, she has masterminded an array of technological innovations at Mr & Mrs Smith, including creating proprietary systems to enable complex rates and availability management, travel-agent interfaces, SEO strategies, introducing consumer-generated content and co-ordinating the launches of Smith Travel Blog, smithandkids.com, smithandfamily.co.uk, the mobile site and Smith’s Plan and Play iPhone app.
Andrea Griffiths, Head of Technology Operations at the FCA
Prior to embarking on a career in the IT industry I worked as a PA for a Finance and Systems Director and my perception at that time was that IT was very complex (technical language – mostly acronyms), very technical, male dominated and ‘nerdy’.
It was relatively easy to make the transition into IT because I had a Manager who was supportive of the move and effectively ‘sponsored’ me in the transition. I moved into a support role, replacing a ‘real’ IT person who wanted to move to a different role in the same department. Interestingly I got the most negative response to my move from the person who I was replacing.
In my experience there is not a barrier to women entering IT but it depends on the role, and Service Management and Project/Programme Management roles seem easier to attract/recruit women into than the deeper technical positions. Compared to 10-15 years ago I have seen more women applying for IT vacancies. In my early IT career (some 20 years ago) there was a much stronger domination of men across IT roles than now.
The difficulty for women wishing to progress into senior positions is not that there are barriers put in their way but often it is more the problem of juggling childcare with full time roles and I don’t think companies generally are flexible enough in this area.
I have selected my own mentors over the years and these have included men and women. Female role models can be helpful to less experienced women and over the years I know that some women have seen me in that light.
The Government has set out its initiatives to get more women in the Boardroom, and I agree that more women in the Boardroom is a good idea but it should obviously be based on merit/experience and having the right people in the role so they are not set up to fail but allowed to prove themselves through delivery. Forcing companies to meet a quota is never a good idea, in my opinion, at any level. Achieving results in getting more women in the Boardroom without forcing a quota is difficult, but ‘encouraging’ rather than forcing would be preferable.
Jenny Crawford, Head of Operations at UK Payments
Although my first degree is in Film and Literature, I've never had any burning desire to become the next Ang Lee. In fact, I entered the commercial world in an HR and training capacity, gradually developing into general management roles. Having my own children reignited my academic interest and I retrained as a teacher, thoroughly enjoying teaching IT to primary school children looking to use IT creatively in teaching a range of different subjects. I remain inspired by how IT engages children and how capable and inquisitive they are.
Four years ago my career took a further positive turn and under the mentorship of the managing director of UK Payments and the Payments Council, I am now thoroughly enjoying a Director of Operations role that encompasses the management of our HR, Legal and Finance Units, as well as our IT team. A very varied role as you can imagine and simply not possible without the support and encouragement of a strong team of enthusiastic colleagues.
My employer's encouragement and enlightened approach to agile working means that I work on a part-time basis between 3-6 hours a day, with two of those days at home. This helps me achieve a really good work / life balance, juggling being a mum to three young boys with a challenging but very rewarding role in the workplace. With an HR grounding and the IT skills and understanding I have acquired, I am playing a significant role in enabling flexible working through technology (introducing on-line meeting tools, improving the use of mobile devices in the workplace etc.). I believe that our flexible working approach really sets us apart. The results of our recent staff engagement survey clearly demonstrates this, with those who can choose to work flexibly for 30% - 60% of their working week coming out as significantly more engaged than those with less flexibility.
I am pleased to be able to share my experience to encourage and support others and wish you all the best in developing a challenging career in an ever changing and hugely rewarding industry.