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Business News/ News / India/  'Don't fear failure': Women leaders pave way for promising future in India's fintech sector
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'Don't fear failure': Women leaders pave way for promising future in India's fintech sector

Women leaders in India's fintech sector share their experiences and insights. They discuss the challenges they have overcome, such as biases and societal pressure, and highlight the progress made in terms of gender diversity and inclusion

Over the last 2 decades, participation of women leaders in fintech has changed significantly. (iStockphoto)Premium
Over the last 2 decades, participation of women leaders in fintech has changed significantly. (iStockphoto)

India's fintech sector is poised for remarkable growth, with expectations of a tenfold expansion over the next seven years. The surge is fuelled by escalating market demand driven by increased financial inclusion, offering substantial opportunities for the sector to thrive.

Although digital financial services continue to streamline access to finance, making it more convenient, faster, and cost-effective, the industry faces scrutiny for its gender diversity, particularly at leadership levels. Nevertheless, there is a gradual shift in this landscape, with women technologists taking the forefront.

Also Read: Meet the women shaping the booming fintech sector in India

LIVEMINT spoke with prominent women leaders in the financial technology sector to gain insights into the evolving landscape for women professionals over the past few decades.

Suja Pramod, now the Head of Fidelity Digital Assets, India entered the industry as a software engineer 25 years ago with the goal of not just excelling among her peers but also establishing her presence and gaining recognition for her work. Reflecting on her early days, Pramod notes, "When I started my journey decades ago, it was a challenge to be heard and recognised for my work. The lack of female role models in this space was a hurdle. At that time, our work was primarily driven by a passion for the job, problem-solving skills, and a commitment to business excellence,"

Divya Madaan, Director-Technology Management and Transformation at Sun Life Global Solutions highlighted unconscious biases as a major obstacle in her career, stating, “The biggest challenge I have faced throughout my career is fighting biases at work. The unconscious biases are sometimes very strong especially when it comes to working women who raise their hand to challenge the norms."

Also Read: What women entrepreneurs need to shine in the MSME sector? Experts explain

The struggle to prove oneself capable of male counterparts begins immediately after entering into the industry. However, for some, it is just a part of a long-drawn battle, which began when they were asked to leave education because of society’s pressure.

For Uma Rudhran, Vice President of Infrastructure and Cyber Security, Global Services at Fiserv, the struggle for recognition began in childhood when societal pressures questioned her pursuit of education. Despite facing resistance, she persevered, inspired by her mother, and has now achieved her dream.

As the fintech industry continues to grow in India, these women leaders believe that significant strides have been made for women. Uma Rudhran notes, “There have been substantial advances in the inclusion of women in the tech domain. The industry now celebrates enhanced gender diversity, underpinned by initiatives that support equality like narrowing gender pay gaps, designing workplaces conducive for women colleagues, offering returnship programs, and more."

Adapting to diverse roles to stay fresh in the tech industry

The ever-evolving challenges of the finance and IT sector are the driving force behind innovation and new technologies. This makes it important to opt for diverse roles and prepare for new challenges.

Driven by the thought, Suja Pramod never shied away from taking new job roles, regardless of how different they were from her previous job profile.

Pramod, who also spent three years in the Human Resources department, shares her experience, "These roles allowed me to naturally develop assertiveness and confidence while retaining the core qualities of empathy and compassion, which are essential for a leader."

Uma Rudhran, reflecting on her decision to move to the US for a new job, considers it a pivotal step outside her comfort zone that contributed to her growth. “In those four years, my confidence and business insight grew exponentially. I learned to embrace opportunities, however daunting, leading me to diverse roles beyond my original IT service delivery scope into vendor strategy and technology risk management," she added.

How young women can prepare for the fintech industry?

For young women aspiring to enter the fintech industry, Divya Madaan advises being "biased for action, open to listening, learning constantly, and focusing on driving outcomes and solving business problems."

“Don't fear failure and view it as a stepping stone to growth," was Madaan's message for the female young professionals.

Uma Rudhran emphasises technical proficiency in areas like full-stack development, automation testing, and SecDevOps.

Suja Pramod highlighted the importance of understanding the practical application of technologies and encourages young professionals to document their work experiences.

As the industry evolves, these women leaders envision continued progress in gender diversity, supported by initiatives addressing pay gaps, creating conducive workplaces, and offering returnship programs. The future of India's fintech sector holds promise, with women playing a crucial role in its advancement.

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Updated: 20 Nov 2023, 02:07 PM IST
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