Seven women rocking the world of finance

September 14, 2018 James Hayward

Women around the world are making waves in finance. They are doing so by blazing their own trail and putting to bed the archaic notion that women cannot thrive in the largely male-dominated industry.  

Here we celebrate several women making their mark in different areas of finance. They should serve as an inspiration to anyone with aspirations of making it to the top. So get inspired by them and learn from their experiences.  

Marianne Lake, CFO, J.P. Morgan Chase

Who is she?

Marianne is CFO at J.P. Morgan Chase and maybe its next CEO. In 14 years at the bank, Marianne has earned a reputation as a skillful operator making an impact in the corporate, investment, and retail arms of the bank.  These skills came to the fore in 2012 when she received particular praise for her handling of the ‘London Whale’ scandal.

Why is she awesome?

Marianne is not your stereotypical senior banking executive. She is a woman – women account for just a quarter of all senior banking roles, according to FT data. She is a single mother to three children. And she wins the respect of her peers with her British charm, self-deprecating humour and general down-to-earth demeanour.

She has achieved everything in her own way; refusing to bow to the pressures of conformity so often found in banking.  In doing so, she has provided a blueprint for how to balance a kick-ass career with family demands.  And is now playing an active role in mentoring other women so they can achieve.

Dhivya Suryadevara, CFO, General Motors

Who is she?

Dhivya made headlines this year when General Motors (GM) announced she would replace Chuck Stevens to become the company’s new CFO. The 39-year-old becomes GM’s first female CFO, making the company only the second in the Fortune 500 to have a female CEO and CFO.

Why is she awesome?

Dhivya is living the American dream. She overcame a challenging upbringing in India, losing her father at an early age, to achieve academic success, earning an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Her rise to the top at GM is equally impressive and is driven by hard work and determination. After just eight years at the company she was promoted to head-up its Asset Management division. This saw her in charge of a pension fund worth $85 billion. If that wasn’t enough, she added corporate treasury to her portfolio just a year later.

Dhivya has appeared on Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list since 2015, placing fourth in the latest installment

Anne Boden, CEO, Starling Bank

Who is she?

Anne is CEO and Founder of Starling Bank, one of the UK’s leading ‘challenger banks’.  Her aim is to drag financial services into the 21st century by providing individuals and businesses a fully digital, user-friendly and real-time banking service.

Why is she awesome?

Anne had a high flying career in banking, which as we mentioned earlier is rare for a woman. Not content with that she built a fully functioning bank in just a few years — that is pretty cool. And by doing so she is challenging an entrenched industry.  Her work is inspiring newcomers and incumbents alike to innovate and reshape the UK banking landscape, bringing new and exciting products to individuals and businesses.

It’s not just banking that Anne is trying to fix. She has corporate culture in the crosshairs as well. Anne frequently speaks about the plight of women at work and openly shares her experiences of gender bias in the workplace. This includes struggling to obtain funding from venture capitalists that she says only ever seem interested in funding people that fit a certain stereotype.  

Leanne Kemp, CEO and Co-Founder, Everledger

Who is she?

You’ve heard blockchain will change the world, but have you heard about one of the women driving that change? No? Well meet Leanne Kemp. Leanne is the CEO of Everledger, a company using blockchain technology to track and protect items of value.

Why is she awesome?

Leanne has always been ahead of the curve. She is a serial entrepreneur, launching many successful companies in industries as diverse as finance, enterprise technology and jewelry.  

Now she is using this combined knowledge to drive transparency in supply chains. Her mission: to boost the global economy by stopping fraud in global trade. The World Economic Forum recognized the company’s efforts, naming Everledger as one the world’s most promising Technology Pioneers in 2018.

Elizabeth Rossiello, Founder & CEO, BitPesa

Who is she?

Another woman changing the world with blockchain is Elizabeth Rossiello, Founder & CEO at BitPesa. Her company is transforming how businesses use frontier currencies.

Why is she awesome?

Launching any business is tough. Launching a business in Africa, especially one that uses revolutionary technology, is incredibly tough. Yet this is what Elizabeth has done.

Despite facing many hurdles on the way, including a legal battle with telecoms giant Safaricom, Elizabeth is succeeding through sheer determination and belief in the product she created. Today, her company helps thousands of businesses in and outside of Africa do business, processing monthly trade volumes in excess of $10 million.

Hear Elizabeth talk with Tradeshift’s Co-Founder and GM of Tradeshift Frontiers, Gert Sylvest, about how technology is propelling digital multinationals.

Kathryn Petralia, Co-Founder & COO, Kabbage

Who is she?

Kathryn is the COO and Co-Founder at Kabbage, an alternative lending platform that thousands of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) rely on.

Why is she awesome?

Kathryn is fintech royalty — and not just because Forbes put her alongside Queen Elizabeth II in its 2017 list of the world’s most powerful women. She is one of the most prominent women in fintech and regarded by many as one of the industry’s most brilliant minds. In partnership with Rob Frohwein, her fellow co-founder, she has turned Kabbage into a $1 billion company, making it one of the most valuable startups in the world.

On top of this, Kathryn is doing her bit to pave an easier path for women following in her footsteps. And she is taking no prisoners. If you need proof of this, check out her provocative Forbes op-ed.

Ruth Porat, CFO, Alphabet

Who is she?

Ruth is a Wall Street veteran and former Morgan Stanley CFO. Having achieved all there is to achieve in banking, Ruth is now taking on the tech industry, propelling Alphabet’s growth as its CFO.

Why is she awesome?

Ruth’s work ethic is the stuff of legend.  She’s made calls while in the delivery room giving birth. She even delayed urgent surgery on a shattered shoulder blade to host Morgan Stanley’s earnings call.

There is no doubt Ruth’s work ethic delivers results. Alphabet’s stock has risen 40% in her tenure. And Alphabet Chairman, Eric Schmidt, described her as “incredible” in a recent interview.  He said: “No normal person could walk into a massive restructuring, with new subsidiaries and compensation, and be completely fine — except Porat.”

Ruth is also a fighter, beating breast cancer in 2001 and 2003.  

Want to push forward with your own finance career? Get some top tips on how to advance in corporate treasury here.

About the Author

James Hayward

James is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at Tradeshift, focused on crafting compelling stories that provide supply chain professionals with unique insights and actionable advice on how to take their organization to the next level. A journalist by trade, James was previously the Global Editor at Treasury Today magazine.

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