Female leaders are helping grow representation in fintech and ensuring more women can access the financial tools for success. The Financial Technology Association (FTA) represents industry leaders committed to breaking down barriers and expanding diversity and representation. Learn about the stellar women leaders at FTA’s member companies and read their advice for women working in the financial services industry.

Womens History Month Spotlight: Andrea Donkor, SVP of Global Regulatory Relations and Consumer Practices at PayPal

Andrea Donkor, who built PayPal‘s regulatory relations function from the ground up, and now leads PayPal’s Global Regulatory Relations and Consumer Practices organization. Andrea serves as one of PayPal’s most visible leaders externally, an active and sought-after strategist and expert on policy and industry issues.

Q: Tell us about a personal experience you’ve had where fintech helped women access financial services.
A: In 2021, PayPal established the Maggie Lena Walker Award named after the first woman – and first Black woman – to charter and run a bank in the U.S. The award celebrates women who are creating economic opportunity in their communities. Last year, we announced our second class of recipients, and I had the honor of serving on the Selection Committee along with Walker’s great-great-granddaughter. It was incredibly inspiring to learn about the work and impact of each of these women and the power of financial empowerment to advance gender and racial equality.

Q: Tell us how the fintech industry, and your company in particular, makes it easier for women to access the financial tools for success.
A: PayPal is committed to advancing economic equity and improving the financial health of women and girls. In 2020, PayPal was selected to serve as the private sector leader for the Economic Justice and Rights Coalition for the U.N. Generation Equality Forum. Through this initiative, we committed over $100 million to advance financial inclusion and economic empowerment for women and girls, and our employees contributed over 10,000 hours of capacity-building and skill-based volunteer services to charities advancing gender equality.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve received about how to succeed in fintech, a traditionally male-dominated business?
A: It is very important to find male allies on this journey, particularly those who are committed to helping remove the barriers for women and girls and creating a more inclusive and diverse workplace.
Embrace your authenticity. Instead of questioning whether your perspective adds value, own the fact that you bring a unique experience and viewpoint that is equally as important.

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Rina Wulfing, Policy Lead for North America at Wise

Rina Wulfing is a Policy Lead for Wise. Based in New York City, Rina advocates for policies that further the mission of money without borders: instant, convenient, transparent, and eventually free. Prior to Wise, she worked as senior staff for financial services policy for two Members of Congress, most recently as Chief of Staff for Congressman Denny Heck.

We asked Rina how the fintech industry and companies like Wise help make it easier for women to access the financial tools for success.

She said, “As a global payments company, Wise works to solve problems faced by people who live international lives. This includes small business owners exporting abroad, a space where women entrepreneurs are underrepresented. Wise works to ensure that payments to employees or customers abroad are received quickly, and we’re upfront about our fees. That’s particularly important for women-owned businesses, who unfortunately, according to research, struggle more to gain the trust of cross-border customers and employees than their male counterparts.”

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Courtney K. Robinson, Esq., Global Head of Financial Inclusion and Policy Development at Block

Courtney K. Robinson, Esq., Global Head of Financial Inclusion and Policy Development at Block, works to develop policies that expand access to the economy and banking system, particularly for historically underserved communities. Before joining Block, she served as senior counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services, where she was responsible for legislative and regulatory matters that affected financial institutions and consumer credit.

Here’s her advice for women working in fintech: “Do good work and operate with integrity. Don’t overcompensate for other people’s mediocrity. Title changes with more work and the same compensation aren’t promotions. Stand up for yourself. Use any power or authority you have to bring other women to the table. You can save the world without carrying it on your back.”

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Nandita Gupta, Chief Product Officer at MX

Our next Women’s History Month spotlight is Nandita Gupta, Chief Product Officer at MX. She has more than 25 years of experience leading product and engineering teams, scaling payment platforms, developing open banking capabilities, and building a world-class financial institution and fintech partnership network.

Nandita can speak from personal experience about how fintech has helped women access financial services. She says, “When did you last see a woman on US currency? Men have dominated the business of money, creating unconscious bias against female financial services accessibility. My fintech career at PayPal, Venmo, and now MX, has helped break female financial ‘disinclusion.’ PayPal enables female-led businesses without a credit history to receive payments. Venmo helps ‘mompreneurs’ operate without a business bank account. At MX, we provide financial wellness insights to women, directly to their mobile, to de-stress their lives and financially empower them.”

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Brigit Carroll, Policy Lead for North America at Wise

Meet Brigit Carroll, Policy Lead for North America at Wise. Based in Washington, D.C., Brigit joined Wise’s policy team in Brussels in 2019 focused on EU policy. Wise is a global technology company building the best way to move money across borders: instant, convenient, transparent, and eventually free.

Brigit believes that fintech helps women build financial well-being and support their families, telling us: “UN research shows that women sending remittances tend to rely more on in-person cash transfers to send money home. When these services became inaccessible during the COVID-19 pandemic, fintechs, like Wise, offering digital payments helped remove these barriers. With these products, verifying your identity digitally instead of going to a brick and mortar store makes sending money more accessible, and transparent fee structures from leading providers such as Wise make it easy to understand what you pay.”

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Kara Parkey, Chief of Staff to MX CEO Jim Magats

Kara Parkey, Chief of Staff to MX CEO Jim Magats, started her career as a CPA in the valuation and audit practices at PWC, and later joined Built, a fintech startup with less than 20 employees at the time. Over the course of her tenure at Built, she wore many hats and helped build out their sales and sales operations teams, owned partnerships, led Built’s international expansion into Canada, and saw the company through its Series B round. Now, she supports the CEO of MX in their mission to improve the financial lives of people everywhere.

Here’s her advice to women looking to succeed in fintech: “I always fall back on the best advice given to me when I was a young associate at PwC. “If you don’t know, ask.” It sounds simple but can be intimidating at times. But ask questions anyway. Be curious & eager to learn, and remember that if you have a question, you likely aren’t the only one and it can benefit the group to ask. This was exceptionally helpful in the early days at Built, a very young startup at the time. Anytime you’re building something new, the more you ask and the faster you ask questions, the quicker you get to the solution. I’ve found this to be true in my current roles at MX and as President of AFT as well. It’s important to cultivate an environment where questions are encouraged.”

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Alexa Summer, Chief Legal Officer at Rho

Meet Alexa Summer, Chief Legal Officer at Rho, the automated spend and cash management platform helping founders and finance teams. Before joining Rho, Alexa was a leader on Airbnb’s Legal Risk & Regulatory team, and also spent time in private practice and as an Assistant United States District Attorney in the Northern District of California.

Here’s Alexa’s advice for women working in fintech: “Fintech is just one of many traditionally male-dominated industries. What will help you succeed is to demonstrate that you are willing to be transparent, and direct. Honesty – and an absence of BS – will earn you credibility. It’s okay to calibrate the tone of your communication to accommodate moments of firmness and moments of friendliness; but no matter what, be willing to choose clear communication, ask hard questions, and stand by your recommendations. Your leadership capabilities will shine through if you let fearlessness and a growth mindset go hand in hand.”

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Kristen Carlisle, VP and General Manager at Betterment at Work

Kristen Carlisle, General Manager of Betterment at Work, helps bring retirement planning and financial wellness benefits to small and mid-sized businesses across the US. Prior to joining Betterment, Kristen served as Director of Finance for Meetup and held other roles in the B2B technology industry.

Read our Q&A with Kristen on ways fintech helps people prepare for retirement, her reflections on working in an industry that is disrupting for good, and how she used fintech to achieve her dreams of buying a house.

Q: Tell us about a personal experience you’ve had where fintech helped women access financial services.
A: I have always dreamed of owning my own apartment in my family’s hometown of Brooklyn. Property values have continued to rise and it felt daunting to determine how to save for this audacious dream alongside debt, expenses and retirement savings. I used automated fintech tools like Betterment to set up a financial goal which helped contextualize what I needed in order to afford my own property. I’m proud to say that I bought my first apartment in Brooklyn in 2019.

Q: Tell us how the fintech industry, and your company in particular, makes it easier for women to access the financial tools for success.
A: I lead the employer-sponsored retirement solutions business at Betterment. We make it easy for employers to adopt a 401(k) for their employees, and for employees to save for their future with personalized, automated advice. This is a growing need as Social Security dwindles and many Americans do not have enough saved for retirement. Additionally, a study we recently conducted of full-time employees noted that only 37% of women rated themselves as financially stable, compared to 61% of men. We believe that one of the best ways to help individuals gain stability and build for their future is through an employer-sponsored retirement program.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve received about how to succeed in fintech, a traditionally male-dominated business?
A: Nearly every industry is male-dominated but what I love about fintech is that it was established on the foundation of disrupting the status quo and lowering the barrier for anyone to have access to financial freedom. It’s also a new industry which means there’s more than enough room to build more diverse workforces and management teams all while evolving the landscape of products. I find myself fortunate enough to work at Betterment, a fintech company that values diversity and has many female leaders, including our CEO, Sarah Levy, and nearly half of our executive team.

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Sarah Paul, Director of Global Policy and Regulatory Affairs at Intuit

Meet Sarah Paul, Intuit’s Director of Global Policy and Regulatory Affairs. Sarah works closely with the business teams to ensure Intuit’s policy priorities align closely with its business strategy. She brings a wealth of experience from senior roles in the private sector and on Capitol Hill to her work on financial services, technology, cybersecurity, and small business policy issues around the globe.

Read our Q&A with Sarah on her experiences as a female leader in financial services and the power of fintech to help women live their best financial lives.

Q: Tell us about a personal experience you’ve had where fintech helped women access financial services.

In my neighborhood, I see a lot of young women, several of them college students, taking on multiple jobs to earn extra money. Some young women babysit on weekends or offer tutoring services. With the help of fintechs and digital financial services, these women are not only taking ownership of managing and budgeting their money, but they’re also able to bank online through fintech apps that save them time and money

Q: Tell us how the fintech industry, and your company in particular, makes it easier for women to access the financial tools for success.

I consistently see how fintechs are not only ensuring that women have great access to financial services but also help empower them financially. I’ve been able to see firsthand how women entrepreneurs are able to use tools like QuickBooks to help manage and grow their businesses. Whether someone is a homemaker who is able to use the tool to manage her digital advertising business or a retired teacher who has started a second career as a boutique florist. Fintechs are able to provide women small business owners with the right tools to manage and run their businesses with speed and confidence, ultimately further powering their prosperity.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve received about how to succeed in fintech, a traditionally male-dominated business?

Don’t be afraid to embrace who you are and what you stand for as you chart a path forward for success. Just because you are in a male-dominated industry does not mean that you have to lose who we are as women. Embrace it and trust your instinct. That’s what will set you apart.