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IWD 2023: The women shaking up retail payments

Written by Marketing Team

Payments is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. But it also heavily male-dominated, and there is a long way to go to make up this deficit. Doing so is an ethical imperative – only by becoming inclusive companies can we build truly inclusive payment solutions. 

In order to achieve a more representative gender balance, we believe one of the most important things we can do as an industry and as a community is to highlight female role-models: women who have proven that this isn’t just a man’s business, but a space in which anyone can make an impact.

Therefore, to mark International Women’s Day 2023, Divido is highlighting women in the retail payments industry who are making a big impact on the world.

These women were nominated by our followers on LinkedIn. As you’ll notice, the list is small – we had intended to shine a spotlight on many more, but unfortunately found women in senior positions to be so rare in this sector, that we had to give up our search. 

That doesn’t mean we’re going to give up, though. We’d love to keep growing this list – so, if you know someone who isn’t included who you feel should be, get in touch with us to submit a nomination – we want to shine the spotlight on as many trailblazing women in payments as possible.

Michelle Atkins – Strategic Business Development Director at Novuna

Michelle Atkins has been at Novuna for one year, but in that short time she has made an enormous impact. Her career in the payments industry goes back almost a decade, in which she has previously made waves at Pay4Later and PayBreak. Michelle was highly recommended by her peers in our survey, with the major theme of those recommendations being her hard-working demeanour, impeccable customer service and attention to detail.

Michelle, what are some of your career highlights?

I’ve been working in finance and payments for the last eight years and I would say that my career highlights include me getting in front of, and signing some of the biggest names in the retail space. I’ve signed billions of pounds worth of business over the years, but for me, reputation is everything, so I work extremely hard to foster long term trusting relationships with my clients. So much so, I get referrals from all over. Just last week I received a referral for £200 million worth of business, so it’s nice to know that I’m trusted as the go-to person!

What do you think is the most important thing we can achieve in the retail payments world?

We need to be fluid and continue to innovate. Things are always changing, whether we’re talking about the finance world, shopping habits or buying decisions. New products and sectors are growing and we need to be able to stay relevant and support them. We’ve recently made huge investments in our tech offering at Novuna. We’ve added some market-leading functionalities that are hugely beneficial for our clients and their clients alike. And we are still continuing to innovate, investing in even more routes to market by developing new products and creating strategic partnerships to reach more markets.

What would you say to women who are concerned about breaking into such a male-dominated industry?

Don’t feel intimidated! I remember when I first moved across, it felt a bit like an old boys club, I felt like I had to be extra ballsy and prove my worth, but luckily, I had a great manager who believed in me and supported me through that transition. Over the years the industry has moved on a lot! There is a lot of education and focus on how to not only attract female talent but also how to support, retain and promote them too. It no longer feels like I’m the odd one out or that I have to prove myself everyday simply for being female! As a woman who is flourishing in the industry, nothing would make me happier than encouraging more women to cross over into the finance space and really excel. If I can do it, anyone can!

What do Michelle’s peers say about her?

“Michelle works tirelessly to ensure all of her clients receive 5 star treatment! She is a stalwart of the finance industry and her reputation is second to none. She constantly strives to think outside the box for her clients and pushes for internal change to help facilitate needs. Her advice is well received and her reputation precedes her.”

“She is always on hand to help and always goes above and beyond.”

Diana Carrasco – Managing Director, Merchant Solutions at Lloyds Banking Group

Diana Carrasco has led an inspiring life (just check out her career highlights!), with leadership roles at some of the world’s biggest banks and payments providers, including Visa, HSBC and her current home at Lloyds, as well as a long list of NED positions and professional association memberships. She has also made a big impact with her peers across the industry – her recommendations hailed her not only a stalwart colleague, but as a positive role model for the whole sector.

Diana, what are some of your career highlights?

After 20 years, there are a few! As the product owner of the main payment gateway used by Spanish banks, my team delivered a truly innovative e-commerce proposition. Some of the solutions we built for merchants in the early 2000s are still ahead of the market today. I made it to a senior position before the age of 30 – with very few exceptions, my colleagues in the boardroom were men (one of them would ask me to serve him coffee in every single meeting). I have lived around the world and won the industry’s respect everywhere I’ve been, staying true to my principles and my personality. I’ve supported different regulators and policy makers as an SME advisor to deliver fundamental legislation. I’ve been a guest lecturer at the University of Cambridge. I was part of a team that built the Merchant Solutions unit at Lloyds Bank Cardnet, changing the way we support merchants by moving from a traditional menu of payment products to a solutions-oriented proposition to support our customers in all their business needs. But the thing I am most proud of are the years I supported the European Financial Coalition, chaired by Europol, helping fight child abuse online.

What do you think is the most important thing we can achieve in the retail payments world?

Real inclusion. We have a responsibility as an industry that serves one of the most basic needs of a capitalist society, which is payments, to deliver for every consumer – particularly for those who are vulnerable or at risk of financial exclusion.

What would you say to women who are concerned about breaking into such a male-dominated industry?

Inevitably, there will be someone, sometime, that will tell you that to be successful you have to follow the boys’ rules of the game. Don’t believe them and stay authentic: your voice is what makes you unique and valuable. Find your allies and be an ally. Don’t be afraid of calling out behaviours that make you uncomfortable. Be the change you want to see.

What do Diana’s peers say about her?

“A tremendous visionary within the payments industry.”

“A strong advocate for win-win solutions with innovative fintech.”

“Diana has consistently provided excellent leadership across teams and is a truly inspiring leader.”

Can you help us grow this list?

If you know of a woman in the retail payments sector who deserves recognition, let us know by dropping us a message on LinkedIn.

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