Jenny is the Group Financial Controller at DPR (www.dpr.co.uk), an award-winning Fintech company that provides software solutions to the retail and commercial banking sectors. Prior to joining DPR, she was at Deloitte where she took on a number of roles working with Fintech companies and associations. She is passionate about innovative improvements and has sought out forward-looking roles in her career where she would have the opportunity to work alongside change-makers.
What first attracted you to pursuing a career within the tech industry?
I’ve always been interested in technology and innovation; in particular in the opportunities that new technology and new ways of thinking enables. I started my career in Financial Services at Deloitte and when the FinTech wave started to take shape a few years ago, I was incredibly excited by the nature and pace of change that was to come. I was lucky enough to work with a mentor at the time who shared a similar interest and opened up some doors that allowed me to immerse in FinTech. I took a secondment role at Innovate Finance where I had the opportunity to work first-hand with Fintech companies and associations across the globe. Eventually, I decided I would love to be part of a growing tech company and here I am today.
During your career, what changes have you seen within the industry?
Recent years have seen an increase in focus on equal opportunities and diversities across all industries, which has resulted in changes such as the Gender Pay Gap Reporting. The Finance and Tech industries in particular have come a long way in terms of gender and diversity since I started my career. In tech, paying a good salary is no longer enough to attract the brightest and best talent with Millennials looking to join businesses that are diverse, ethical and mission-driven. This has led to a number of businesses committing to initiatives such as the Tech Talent Charter or Women in Finance Charter and making real improvements to increasing diversity in the workplace. For example, at DPR, we have taken steps to reduce the risk of gender biases in our recruitment processes; increased options for flexible working; and are actively measuring and reporting diversity KPIs to our Board to ensure we’re continually improving.
How well do you think the tech industry is doing in improving gender diversity?
There have been definite improvements but there is still a long way to go and unfortunately gender parity won’t be an overnight change. It’s great to see an increasing number of initiatives in place to promote diversity within Finance and Tech, for example, changes to recruitment and appraisal processes to make it more balanced for women and other minorities; education among leaders on setting top-down initiatives in companies; and events to bring like-minded individuals together and give women a platform to inspire others. In addition, there are a number of initiatives that are designed to encourage girls to take up tech from an early age which is fantastic to see.
The theme for this year’s IWD is “balanceforbetter” – if you were in charge for the day what would be the first thing you would do to improve balance?
I would make business and political leaders accountable for diversity targets, with incentives directly linked to measurable improvements. In a business setting, management are responsible for setting the “tone from the top” and without their buy-in and support, initiatives to improve diversity aren’t likely to succeed. With most executives still focusing on revenue and profits more than non-financial measures, intervention is needed. There is evidence that a diverse workforce translates into financial benefit so it should be clear for management that they are not mutually exclusive.
During your career, what hurdles did you encounter and what did you learn from them?
I think I was quite lucky that when I started my career there was already a growing population of women in both the Finance and Tech industries so I didn’t encounter as many gender-related hurdles as women who worked in our industries 20 or 30 years’ ago.
One thing I’m learning though is to be less afraid of asking for things you want. Although not specifically a gender-related hurdle, I do think (anecdotally) women tend to struggle more with this than men. At the start of my career, I was afraid of asking for roles, opportunities and promotions that I didn’t feel I had done enough to “deserve”. That changed when I started working with consultants in London where, male or female, my peers were asking for and getting things I didn’t think would be on the table. My turning point came when I started to work on Fintech projects; I hoped I would get the roles but since I didn’t have any first-hand experience of Fintechs or start ups I wasn’t confident; however, if I hadn’t persisted with asking, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
What is it you enjoy most about your role?
When I met our CFO, DPR had recently received Private Equity investment and were about to embark on a momentous change journey. At the same time, the mortgage-tech industry was (and still is) undergoing a wave of change following on from earlier disruptions in payments and current accounts.
What really sold the role to me was the opportunity to be part of this change from the start and to put in place systems, processes and people in and outside of Finance that would help the business scale in the next stage of its growth. It’s not your standard Group FC role. I’ve have had the opportunity to support our CFO and exec team on making changes to all aspects of the business. There wouldn’t be a job description that could cover the extent and variety of work I’ve been involved in… from building a Finance function from a blank canvas to being a designer for our new office layout, an events planner for our company-wide strategy event, and a change ambassador among other things. It is really rewarding to see the change we have made in the last 18 months and I’m excited for the changes still to come.
On the diversity front, we already pride ourselves in having a diverse mix of nationalities and backgrounds across our teams. We have a number of women working in client delivery roles as well as in technical roles and although we recognise we’ve still got more to do, I feel very fortunate to work with like-minded individuals who also want to improve diversity across the industry.