Antonina Martinova on being a Woman in Tech

  • Antonina Matinova, CEO at Paynetics

  • 08.03.2022 09:15 am
  • #fintech

The tech/fintech industry is made up of people from many different disciplines. I’m the perfect example of this, having originally done my undergraduate degree in engineering before doing finance for my Master’s degree. I then went into the banking sector for 25 years before moving to Paynetics. My move into fintech was motivated by a need to explore what was beyond traditional banking, recognising that this industry was where a lot of the exciting innovations were happening.

While the industry has made many strides over the years to be more inclusive, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to bridge the gender divide. Hence, it is important that we discuss the challenges facing women in tech, as well as what can be done to welcome more women into the industry.

Barriers to entry

Organisations need to have work flexibility built into company policies. The pandemic has thought us that remote working is not only feasible, but it is a model that allows staff to thrive. As we come out of the pandemic, it is imperative that fintech/tech companies offer staff the flexibility of working from home. Moreover, flexible work hours go a long way in creating a healthy work life balance for employees. As it allows people greater autonomy over their time. Parents that have to pick up their kids after school can choose to start work earlier in the day or finish later.

Companies that don’t offer flexible working, make it particularly challenging for women to feel like they can thrive in the tech industry. At Paynetics, 51% of our staff are women and 4o% of the board are women. Having this representation at a senior level is reflected in the work we’ve done to make our company as welcoming as possible.

Making tech a more inclusive sector

Education is key. There are many gateways into this industry, so more needs to be done to make students and people with established careers in other sectors see that they can still move into tech. There is a misconception that you need to have come from a software background in order to work in tech, and this could not be further from the truth. I am a testament to that fact. So whether you are straight out of university, or someone who is a couple of years down a different career path, it is never too late to find your space within this ever-growing industry.

The environment created within the company is key to encouraging more women and minorities into the industry. Getting people to join your organisation is one thing, but making them want to stary is another. You must foster an environment where women can see themselves succeeding. This is dependent on having a respectful, collaborative, and dedicated culture sewn into the fabric of the organisation. At Paynetics, we are still a relatively small team of 58 people. So we feel like a family. We have created a healthy, nurturing, and transparent work environment that puts staff at the heart of the organisation.

To my younger self…

Confidence is the name of the game. You have to believe that you belong in the room. Otherwise, it can become easy to get lost in the machine or lose yourself and your voice in the shuffle. This is something I wish I knew much earlier.

Remember to set goals for yourself, then use them to create a roadmap of how you plan to achieve them. People often say ‘you must follow your dreams’, but your ‘dreams’ thrive or die depending on how strong the plan you have to achieve it actually is. I wish I knew the value of understanding your personal USP much sooner. The sooner you know this, the quicker you can hone in on it, nurture it, and become the expert on said topic/area. So, find your best skill and develop it!

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