Laura Keturke, Head of Product at AAZZUR explores…
The finance and tech industries have traditional been labelled as male dominated areas of work, but in recent times more and more women are taking senior positions within corporations in these industries.
I started my career in real estate as a broker assistant, following the completion of my degree in Philosophy at Vilnius University.
After some time I was promoted to a Marketing and Product Manager position at the same real estate company, what was a daughter company of a large Norwegian bank. Here I started my banking journey which taught multiple valuable things and gave me a taste of working within a very regulated corporate environment.
The transition from corporate banking and real estate to finance was not planned, I just wanted some changes.
I first met Philipp Buschmann, CEO of AAZZUR and Martin Damaske COO of AAZZUR when my husband took me as a plus one to an AAZZUR bootcamp in Vienna that lasted three months! Everyone was living together developing the company and building the AAZZUR platform and it was then I became an intern for AAZZUR and assisted with marketing.
Signing up to AAZZUR’s TechStars led to a position being offered as a Product Manager, this lasted 4 years before I was promoted to Head of Product. Having a background in project management helped to bring skills and experience to the role and enabled me to work effectively with other departments such as the design and development teams.
Working within fintech is very different from working within the corporate financial world, in fintech creativity and the ability to work across different teams is encouraged, as it is a fairly new industry there is still much scope to innovate and inspire. The start-up world is liberating, whereas the corporate world is cubical and static. In the fintech world it is all about learning and making mistakes and there’s no limitations, I really enjoy working within this sector.
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I would say there are two main issues that stretch across the financial sector, both in the corporate and startup world. One of which is knowledge that is often shared among men only, a sort of ‘Gentleman’s Club’ which can be frustrating and doesn’t work to serve the company as a whole. The other issue is the inappropriate comments I have often been on the receiving end of, usually centred around my appearance. This of course can be challenging and most likely happens to women across many sectors globally.
At AAZZUR nobody is hired based on their gender, it is always about their skills and if they fit the company culture. I manage many people across various teams and work closely with the product development team, as well as sales and marketing. The role is varied and essentially it is about meeting the needs of the customer and delivering a product that does this.
The presence of women in fintech is still limited I don’t personally know of any female founders in fintech start-ups or in the insurance sector, there will obviously be some, but I’ve not had contact with any during my role at AAZZUR. Quite often I can be the only woman in the room, but this hasn’t stopped me being promoted or voicing my opinion.
I wholeheartedly encourage women to join this sector, I don’t believe in women-specific financial products, this is finance, and taking a loan/opening investment account out whether you are a woman, or a man matters not, it’s the same product. I believe the real gap is in education and how people raise their children and impart/transfer them different values and focuses, which can relate to gender. Overall making finance less complicated and hard to understand is key.
Finance is not a very ‘sexy’ topic and probably never will be, the only thing that is attractive is making money work for you. However, to reach that level of success, there is much research to be done to become financially educated. I think to really attract and engage more women in this sector, more thought and planning should go into the marketing campaigns, whether it is for recruitment in finance, tech or fintech, or in the range of financial products available out there. A good marketing campaign can speak to women in their language and ultimately get them interested enough to find out more.
Today there is so much information out there that is available to everyone, so my advice to any woman considering a career in fintech or in a start-up initiative would be – if you have a problem or you find a problem that you can solve – go for it, if you don’t know how to solve it – find someone who does and go for it. The real passion comes from being affected by a problem and solving it.
In today’s world it is not that hard. Make a pitch deck and go and find 5-10 investors to pitch to, accelerators and other groups can help with this too, it is currently much easier for women founders to raise money as there really is so much support available, the sky is the limit, you just have to find your purpose and passion.