Exclusive: Women in technology speak on International Women’s Day

Today marks International Women’s Day and despite the great progress we have made, the fields of science, technology and finance are still a man’s world.

LeapRate talked to a selection of female representatives from the technology sector, discussing the challenges they have faced as females in the industry and the importance of encouraging more women into senior roles to help shape the industry moving forward.

Today, we speak to Katie Christensen, Chief Compliance Officer of ISAM / IS Prime, Remonda Z. Kirketerp-Møller, Founder and CEO of RegTech company Muinmos and Anushka Prakash, Software Developer at Gold-i.

Katie Christensen has 20 years of experience in compliance roles, having worked in companies including Quilter Cheviot (formerly known as Morgan Stanley Quilter), Janus Henderson, M&G, Aviva Investors and Columbia Threadneedle Nikko Asset Management Europe and since October 2018 in ISAM / IS Prime.

Katie talked about the beginning of her career:

Katie Christensen, ISAM / IS Prime

Katie Christensen

“When I began my career, there were far fewer women in senior positions, although the head of compliance at Quilter Cheviot was held by a female who was not only a fantastic leader but also a great role model so early on in my career.  Throughout my career, I feel privileged to have received a great deal of support and encouragement with advancing my career in the industry.”

She shared what the biggest challenge in progressing her career while raising a family was:

“I started my family in 2016 and am extremely grateful for the flexibility and support that I was afforded after maternity leave, enabling me to effectively continue my career whilst raising a family. The biggest challenge that I have faced to date is having the self-confidence to step up to my first senior role.  However, working in environments where my contribution as a leader is valued and appreciated has enabled my confidence to significantly grow and thrive.  I have a strong network of females and exceptionally talented colleagues at ISAM / IS Prime. The range of diverse skills and backgrounds provides great collaboration and mentorship.”

Katie commented on the progress of gender diversity in the industry:

“The industry has made great progress with gender diversity. I feel that women play an important part in senior roles as they can often add a different perspective leading to a more rounded view and improved decision making and outcomes.  Hopefully, with more women holding senior positions, this will encourage other women to step up to leadership roles.

In order to attract more females into the industry, I believe it’s important for senior management to view gender diversity as a business strategy that’s embedded with the right culture.  This should not simply be a box ticking exercise.”

Women in business

Renowned expert in FinTech, RegTech and regulatory matters in financial services, Remonda Kirketerp-Møller, has over a decade in in senior executive positions at Saxo Bank and CFH (now Finalto), which she co-founded. Remonda founded Danish RegTech company, Muinmos ApS in 2012, filling the market gab to use technology to automate highly complex legal and regulatory challenges in financial services.

Remonda talked about building her career at financial institutions in a male dominated sector.

Remonda Kirketerp-Møller, Muinmos

Remonda Kirketerp-Møller

“I didn’t face any challenges as a female building my career at financial institutions, despite it being a heavily male dominated sector. I believe being competent in your job is the most important factor and I was highly regarded by my colleagues, both men and women, and managed to get to a very senior level very fast due to my competences and huge commitment to my work. However, I have faced challenges since starting my own business.  Many of the VCs and business angels are men and, as a female, I believe it has always been much harder to prove my worth when they don’t know me or my abilities. They have often been surprised that I am a female single founder and I have frequently been asked whether I have other co-founders, with the assumption that I probably founded the company with a man. This is a viewpoint that is certainly not acceptable and definitely still needs to evolve.”

She also shared what she considers important to encourage more women to take senior positions:

“I think it’s very important to encourage more women into senior roles but I also think it’s very important that we do not lower the quality in order to do so. There are many extremely competent women out there and we should earn our senior role and work as hard as our counterparts and not promote people into senior roles largely because they are women.

I’m actually seeing many more women in the financial sector. I think the interest has to be there from the start. I love financial services and I’m not sure I could do my job as well as I do if I didn’t enjoy what I do, so I believe it’s important that women see the opportunity in financial services. I happen to love the regulatory, compliance and legal aspects in financial services but the opportunities are endless in the sector for all.”

Remonda added:

“For me, celebrating achievements in social, economic, cultural and political spheres is very important for all of us to recognise the power of change for the better. So I definitely feel International Women’s Day is a very important day to celebrate. I have been fortunate to have been raised in a family with gender equality, having three brothers and being treated in the same way as my siblings. I never felt different being female, and I started my career somewhat 20 years ago believing that there is no limit to what you can do if you focus you mind on it, and I am a living example of that with the success I have achieved to date. But of course I am also aware that there are still parts of the world where unfortunately there is still a big gender gap and we all have to work together to close that gap and prove that the power of change lies in each and every single one of us to truly push boundaries and allow everyone equal opportunities regardless of gender, race or colour.”

Anushka Prakash completed her Bachelor of Technology Degree, Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering at Vellore Institute of Technology in India in 2017 and joined Gold-i as a software developer in February 2021.

Anushka talked about software development as a male-dominated field:

Anushka Prakash, Gold-i

Anushka Prakash

“Software development seems to be very much a male dominated career path – I’ve seen that in the workplace and at all stages of my education, latterly when doing a Masters in Computer Science. Whilst this isn’t a huge issue for me, I do think that more females should try out this career path.”

She commented on the importance of having role models:

“I jumped at the opportunity to work at Gold-i on development of its Matrix multi-asset liquidity management platform as I was keen to develop a career in the financial services sector – a sector which also happens to be male dominated. For me, role models are important. You need to have people who are higher up the career ladder who motivate and inspire you.  However, role models can be any gender, they don’t need to be female. I do think though, that given the fact that females have a different role in society to men, it does help to see women in senior roles in an organisation. It makes you think ‘if she can do this role, maybe I can too.”

Anushka added:

“Days such as International Women’s Day are important for people at all levels to share their experiences and highlight the wide range of career choices that women have today and some of the amazing opportunities that are open to everyone.”

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