What is your line of work? Why did you join the technology business in the first place? What motivated you?
Today I am responsible for a team of global senior account and business development managers within the e-Commerce division of Worldline’s Merchant Services. Basically my team is responsible for global Tier 1 customers (e.g. PayPal, Spotify). The team consists of 9 people located in 6 different countries on different continents. Global e-Commerce is changing at a fast pace and is therefore a very demanding market. I enjoy this a lot as I learn everyday on the job and I am privileged to work with very passionate, intellectual, creative people, both internally and externally, that seek solutions for new and existing problems and are not afraid of challenges.
As most people, I joined this industry by coincidence. I studied Tax and Competition Law, so I am modest enough to not think that I would be a good fit for a technology company. Logically I never looked myself to work in this area. A couple of years ago, I was contacted by a career coach/recruiter that, with some questions, understood that I like to understand and sell complex but logical structures. He suggested that I applied for a job at Worldline as there was a management position available. In my company at the time, there were no direct opportunities to grow. So I said yes, but to be honest I had no idea what to expect.
My motivation is not a great story. However the reason why I still go to work every day with passion is because of the fact that payments are so relevant and dynamic. It is relevant from a consumer perspective as we pay every day. For businesses, it is a key part of their business; if your shopper experience is not good, you will not sell. It is just as important as having a good product. It is therefore also very universal as all merchants need to accept payments. But still diverse, it is interesting how different payment methods grew in different countries depending on what was available. And yes, in the end, there is a link with legislation, each country/continent has different rules, as do scheme’s payment methods.
What do you find more challenging in your profession?
The payments landscape is being disrupted with new legislation in the EU. Traditional players are being challenged which makes it interesting. But due to the fact that so much is happening in the global payment landscape, it can be difficult to differentiate between what is noise from what is really relevant and sustainable.
What are you most proud of in your work?
I take a lot of pride in my work but I am modest enough to understand that all the information I receive is only as good as the person whom I received it from. Information sharing allows for cross fertilization, which is something I actively promote. This combined with an interpreneurial mindset, a love for complex cases, a good internal network and a don’t give up mentality has resulted in solving some problems together with these extreme bright people that share a similar mentality. This has enabled us to resolve multiple cases where we did not have an off the shelf solution to create a unique solution for some specific problems from our assets. We are trying to industrialize some of those solutions as they have shown there was a pain in the market that was not yet addressed.
Being a woman in a technology company, which is a business sector where women are less represented in average than in banking or media and communication for example, what would you say to young women thinking about their future professional orientations?
I believe, as often is the case that the problem starts with education.
Even if on paper education opportunities are equal, there is still a subtle but strong push from society that steers away women from education paths that are traditionally regarded as only suited to males, like STEM disciplines. This is one of the main factors that cause less woman moving towards more IT oriented industries, so I do not think the industry attitude is the only factor to blame for this.
However, of course, the industry can and should still play a part, by creating and encouraging more female role models and by putting them actively forward. As a example, a PWC study conducted with 2,000 A Level and University female students in the UK showed that 22% could name a famous female working in the technology industry. When asked to name a famous man working technology 2/3rd of that same group managed to reply with a name. It is a vicious circle, as 25% of the female students explained that the reason they didn’t decide to start in the technology industry (and therefore start creating more role models) was due to the fact that it is too male dominated.
Therefore I would stress to young woman that are on the verge of deciding their career path that the technology industry is ready for them. More than ever, opportunities are being created for them as the industry has realized that we truly need more women to use their talent to build technology products that are representative of the full population, not just the male part. However I do want to stress that positive inclusion is not limited to male/female but the aim should go beyond that.
What would you advise your female colleagues to do within Worldline to successfully develop their career path?
Never think you are not good enough. If the next opportunity comes up, there is no reason not to grab it and go forward in your career.
In a HP internal report, it was stated that men apply for promotions when they only meet 60% of the qualifications whilst women will only apply when being sure they have all qualifications listed. Is it fear of failure and being less openly confident than men? Maybe, I am not sure, but there are many brilliant women I see that could perfectly take that next step but let the opportunity slip to the advantage of their less talented male colleagues.
What would say to your male colleagues?
Be careful when stereotyping woman, even if meant as a joke. It is not like we can’t appreciate a good joke, but doing so in public might make people that hold prejudices against women feel more legitimized in their beliefs, and possibly be more vocal about it themselves.
In this way, you might help to perpetuate the vicious circle of women discrimination, even if you actually never intended to do so.
What advices would you give to achieve Work-life balance?
This is a very important topic for me. I believe three things are key for this: setting expectations pause/relax and flexible working hours.
1. Setting expectations:
In the morning prior to starting my work day (or the evening before), I will make a list of tasks and goals I want/need to finish and therefore prioritize. I will write it down and try to work through it (next to, of course, participating to meetings and conference calls). Every time something new comes in, one of the questions I will ask is by when it is needed. Based on that, I can plan my work. If I feel I can’t make a deadline, I will communicate on it as of the moment I realize it. The next day, I will redo the exercise and scrap what was done.
This does 2 things for me, people know you are reliable as you do and don’t forget what was asked but for me it mainly means overview and organization which gives me peace of mind.
Sometimes the team and I have a hard (short term) deadline on a project but when everybody is going all 150%, this gives me energy and, to be honest, I get a bit of a kick out of it. But what is important, after these projects are completed, is to thank each other for the work done and importantly pause.
For me, unwinding is to go on a holiday. One of my passions is to travel, so at least a couple of times a year, I am gone to another part of the world without any connection to work. It helps that within Wordline (in the UK at least), it is allowed to buy holidays which you can use for all purposes.
3. Flexible working hours:
Worldline is flexible in remote working and office hours. For me, this means that I often work from home which saves me 2 hours of daily commute. This extra time, I can fill in however I like. It compensates for the many hours needed monthly to travel to all parts of the world.
How has Worldline helped you to advance in your career and reach your professional goals?
Within Worldline, people are encouraged to take initiative, for their own career, trainings but also for your work. I started as a sales manager Mass Market BE market, went from that to being responsible for a credit card loyalty program that is run in Belgium in collaboration with the banks, after that, I moved to London to work as an international business development manager, being today responsible for the global e-Commerce sales team within Worldline. I am very thankful for all these opportunities. But to be honest, I worked extremely hard to receive them. I believe that where you can add extra value for the company is often where your job description would normally stop.
My main goal was to learn as much as possible so, when I was suggested a new role, I always said yes as I understood I could only learn more from it. I went to each division linked to this new role and tried to understand as much as possible from other far more experienced people than me to get a better picture or understand who does what. I tried to prove myself in each of these functions. Due to my decisions and work, I changed position 4 times in the last 4 years, which made me learn so much. After being a couple of months in the job I would request or suggest a separate project where I saw need for improvement changes, which would result in my next deliverable next to my day to day tasks.
I also received some very interesting trainings, I remember a lead management training that was extremely interesting from a social behavior perspective. In order to get to my existing management position, I understood that a basic understanding of Finance would help. That is why I suggested and received a course on Managerial Finance at the LSE.