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Opportunity, empowerment and accomplishment

Thoughts and advice from some of Barclays’ female leaders on International Women’s Day

Fri Mar 06 04:00:00 EST 2020

With its roots going back to 1909, International Women's Day (IWD) is a day when women around the world are recognised for their achievements.

The annual date in the calendar is celebrated in many countries around the world, with events ranging from concerts to conferences and fun-runs to festivals. For Barclays, it’s a key moment in time and in recognition of IWD 2020, we talk to four leading female leaders from across our international Cards & Payments businesses to find out what IWD means to them, where their inspiration comes from and why the finance industry is leading the way for women. The panel includes:

  • Stacy Conn, Head of Product Marketing, Barclays US Consumer Bank
  • Kat Haase, Chief Operating Officer, Barclaycard Germany
  • Kirsty Morris, Managing Director of Account Development, Barclaycard Payments, UK
  • Lincy Therattil, Fintech Platform Lead, Barclays Rise Mumbai, India

What does IWD mean to you?

For Stacy, she sees it as a great way to remember to take a moment and be thankful for what women have accomplished both in history and also what we can accomplish in the future.  For Kirsty and Lincy, it symbolises opportunity. Kirsty believes it’s an opportunity to reset and think about supporting female talent and ask ourselves: what more can we do? Lincy agrees that it’s taking time to reflect back on how women have progressed, share experiences, discuss challenges that still exist whilst also planning to create more opportunities. Kat enjoys the global celebration and thinks it’s a great opportunity to raise awareness among men and women.

Who do you most admire?

Lincy: I admire people who have created their own path and ensured that they have enabled others to go on their journey as well. I think it’s equally important to learn from the people around you and I’ve been fortunate to have had great managers and mentors to inspire me.

Kirsty: I am lucky to have had so many incredible women inspire me over the years and those closest to me inspire me the most. My mum has been a constant pillar of strength and my daughters always inspire me to do better and challenge the status quo to ensure I leave a legacy that will make their challenges smaller than my generation’s.

Kat: I admire many people for different talents and personality traits; from Angela Merkel for her resilience to Steve Jobs for his vision and Jürgen Klopp for his leadership. I also admire my mother, she taught me what is possible if you truly want it and are willing to compromise.

Stacy: Like Kirsty and Kat, I also admire my mum who worked full time in a demanding job but never missed a sports event or school function – she just figured it out. As a parent now, I look back on that with awe.

Do you think payments is a good business for women to be in?

Kirsty: I think payments is an amazing place to be, regardless of gender – there’s just so much change and exciting opportunities for everyone.

Kat: Any business is a good business for women to be in. Payments is a highly competitive and innovative, requiring strong interpersonal skills and the ability to lead in a non-hierarchical fashion. I believe many women possess these skills, so payments would provide a great environment for them.

Stacy: I agree, there are roles across payments for every skillset – from marketers to project managers to customer experience and everything in between.

Lincy: In India, the payments industry is witnessing tremendous change as we move towards digital solutions. This requires creative thinking, the ability to work with unknowns and, most importantly, a great level of empathy for customer needs. Women and men both have huge potential to be the change agents in the payments business.

How do you think innovation in payments are helping women?

Stacy: I think most women would say the thing they need more of is: time. One way the cards and payments industry helps is streamlining how we make purchases. For example, I put all my recurring payments (like my gym membership) on my card which enables automatic billing. It saves me time, keeps me organised by consolidating everything in one place and helps me keep track on what I’m spending.

Lincy: Going back to the reasons we have IWD, one of the responses is to create equality between men and women. Financial independence is key to this and I believe recent innovations in payment systems that we are seeing in India gives more financial freedom to women. Be it financial literacy, inclusion initiatives, ease of access to finance or user friendly payment tools – they all equip both men and women to handle their finances more independently.

What do you think the future will look like for women in 2025?

Kat: Society is changing and we are now seeing a new generation of engaged younger people. I hope they will grow up and define their future, and ours, in an increasingly positive light.

Lincy: We are seeing the emergence of a great support system for women as the glass ceiling breaks. There are now more flexible programmes to help women through various life stages, such as shared parental leave.

Kirsty: I think the future is on a positive trajectory. I have a daughter who plays football, for a sport that has historically been male dominated it’s incredible to see the shift in interest and attitudes. I was really proud to see the Barclays' sponsorship of Women's Super League in the same spirit. I still think there is a way to go when you look at women in business, but we are on moving in the right direction.

Stacy: The progress we’ve seen in gender equality advancement over the past five years has been good. If you look at sports in America, traditionally exclusively male, we now have the first professional National Basketball Association, National Football League and Major League Baseball female coaches. That’s awesome to see! As different industries evolve, others will follow and we will see more women in leadership positions. This will inspire and cultivate young women entering the workforce to reach for those positions – when you see others like yourself there, things start to happen.