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Women in Payments: Driving Diversity in the Payments Industry

WIP Blog Series Social Felicity Blake

As the Australia Women in Payments Symposium approaches, I took a moment to chat with ACI’s Felicity Blake, country manager, New Zealand, who will be participating (among other experts) in a panel on Rising to the Diversity Challenge.

Nidhi Alberti: Thanks for taking the time to chat, Felicity. Without giving too much away, tell me a bit about how you expect the discussion to go at the Women in Payments Symposium.

Felicity Blake: Absolutely! I think it’s a great topic and I’m really looking forward to participating. I expect that this will go beyond gender diversity and focus on the broader need for diversity in the workplace, whether it’s ethnic heritage, gender, age and more. We’ve seen time and time again that companies thrive when they engage employees with different views, backgrounds and cultures, and as the world continues to get smaller, this will be imperative to the success of organizations in the future.

I will be joined by several experts in the industry during this panel and I fully expect it to be an eye opening and insightful discussion. I can’t wait!

NA: In your opinion, what should we do as an industry to drive gender diversity?

FB: We should further encourage STEM education for girls at a young age. Our industry should be talking to schools about the types of roles we offer and highlighting the opportunities that a career in payments and technology can offer. We need to create that spark in young women now to deliver the pipeline for diversity in the future.

NA: What do you like most about working in the payments industry?

FB: It is such an exciting time to be in payments. Yes, I admit I’m a true payments geek!

There is so much activity around the digital reinvention of payments, driven by the frictionless customer experiences that we’re all coming to expect as standard. Customers want their payments to be instant and easy and they want to be able to pay in the way that makes sense for the situation. When we all have smartphones in our hands providing instant access to a vast amount of information through high-speed internet and apps, customer expectation for convenient, instant and digital payments is high. The traditional payment providers are all investing in their technology to become nimbler and are doing it in an agile way. The pressure on them from the fintechs that are delivering new customer-focused value is both a challenge and an opportunity.

Working for a global company provides great access to how our customers are responding to those challenges, which is a great opportunity to incorporate lessons learned when working with the local industry. I love working with our customers and helping them drive their payments journeys through innovative partnership solutions.

NA: What advice do you have for young women looking to make it in the payments industry?

FB: I believe this is a great time for women in payments. Organizations in the payments industry are all looking at how to challenge the status quo to deliver better business outcomes – there is a strong recognition of the need to build diverse teams to support the robust conversations needed to spark innovation.

My advice to young women entering payments is to seek out mentorship, both male and female. A mentor can provide honest guidance on how to approach challenges, identify and strengthen areas requiring development and be that cheerleader when confidence is lacking.

Authenticity is also a key factor. I would encourage women to remain authentic to who they are at their core, which allows them to bring their best to the table. And while they’re at the table, they can’t forget to ‘Lean in’ and make their contribution heard. When you do this as your authentic self, you are leveraging your uniqueness, which is very powerful.

Join Felicity Blake and other women-in-payments experts on November 20, 2019 at 12:30-1:00pm during the 2019 Women in Payments Australia Symposium as they discuss, ‘Rising to the Diversity Challenge.’