March 12, 2024 | Raistone

In Their Own Words: The Women of Raistone Discuss Women’s History and the Strive for Equality in Fintech

March is Women’s History Month, celebrating the contributions of women today and throughout history. We asked some of the women of Raistone for their thoughts on what it means to be a woman in the finance and fintech industries.

Women’s History Month is a powerful reminder that we are all connected and that progress for women is progress for everyone. This month, join Raistone in celebrating the women in our lives and use this time to create a world where equality and opportunity exist for all. 

How did you enter the fintech industry?

Melissa Crupi, Raistone Vice President of Revenue Operations and Enablement spent most of her career working at an investment bank. “I joined the fintech industry in 2020, wanting a change from the highly scrutinized regulatory environment to a more entrepreneurial environment. My background in the end-to-end client onboarding experience helped me land a role at a supply chain fintech where I was able to use my skillset in a slightly different way, bit more challenging and exciting,” she says.

Raistone Onboarding Team Lead Kimberly Thomas was driven to join the fintech industry by her passion for numbers, finance, and accounting. “I sought a career that would offer both challenges and fulfillment. I discovered exactly that when I joined the growing fintech sector,” she shares. 

Vivian Jackson, Raistone Payment Line Manager, began her career in the accounting department of a construction supply business. “Later in my career, I transitioned to a role at a small fintech startup, and I have worked in fintech since.”

Raistone Product Manager Lyuba Nochkina began her career as an Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapist working with children on the autism spectrum. “Shortly after moving to New York City, I realized I wanted to pursue my passion for technology and management, and I was drawn to the innovation of the fintech industry.”

Lisa Wright, Raistone Assistant Vice President of Finance and Accounting, explains that she has always enjoyed math and joining a math-related field made sense. “Before joining Raistone, I worked at a technology company. During Covid layoffs, when other places were downsizing, Raistone was growing. Since I had experience in the tech industry, moving over to the fintech industry was a fluid transition,” she says.

Raistone Senior Compliance Officer Cindy Medina Vega began her career as a practicing attorney before finding her niche in the finance and fintech industries. “While working for one of the top five U.S. banks, my interest expanded to include the fintech sector due to its dynamic and agile nature. This led me to pursue opportunities where I could leverage my legal expertise to navigate complex regulatory landscapes while also embracing innovation and technological advancements,” she shares. 

What lessons have you learned throughout your career journey?

Lisa shares that her motto, “one step at a time,” has helped her throughout her career. “Any project, mission, or problem can be broken down into manageable tasks. If something seems overwhelming, take a step back and break it down into manageable tasks.”

Kimberly emphasizes the importance of advocating for yourself in your career.

“You are your strongest advocate, bet on yourself and seize opportunities that come your way. No reward comes without risk.”

 

— Kimberly Thomas, Raistone Onboarding Team Lead

Throughout her career, Melissa has learned to always give it 110%. “You never know who you may end up working with in the future, it is a small industry and life often comes full circle.”

Vivian shares, “During my career, I have learned that hard work and determination have their rewards.”

Cindy emphasizes that career progression is not always linear. “There will be setbacks in your job and career development, but those setbacks are beneficial and necessary because you learn from them and provide an opportunity to improve.”

What can be done to increase the number of women in fintech?

Many women emphasize the importance of both representation and confidence in the fintech industry. 

Kimberly says, “Women witnessing women excel in male-dominated industries, like fintech and finance, instills a sense of empowerment, demonstrating the feasibility of our participation in this field.”

“Even when you don’t check every box of a job description, apply anyway and be confident in your work and skillset,” Melissa shares. 

Lyuba believes it’s important for women to embrace their unique perspective and expertise when looking to enter the fintech sector. 

“While my background may not align with traditional financial pathways, it equips me with valuable lens and a distinct perspective. I strive to leverage my strengths and confidently share them, contributing a fresh viewpoint to the team and fostering innovation,” Lyuba shares.

Vivian emphasizes the importance of companies creating a culture that prioritizes a proper work-life balance. “I think it’s incredibly important for companies to emphasize work-life balance and offer invaluable benefits, like flexibility, childcare assistance, to name just a few.”

Cindy explains that both systemic barriers and biases often deter women from pursuing careers in finance and fintech, and these must be addressed to increase the number of women entering these fields. 

“Targeted recruitment and retention strategies, leadership development programs specifically for women, return to work programs for women re-entering the workforce, and ensuring transparent and equitable pay practices all work together to foster a more inclusive and equitable work environment.”

 

— Cindy Medina Vega, Raistone Senior Compliance Officer

“Family friendly policies such as paid parental leave, childcare support, flexible work arrangements not only accommodate the work-life balance needs of women but are also indicative of a positive organizational culture characterized by trust, respect, and inclusivity.”

What unique skills can women bring to this industry?

Lyuba believes it’s not just about the unique skills women possess, but also the unique impact women bring to the fintech industry.

“We forge strong connections with clients and colleagues, essential for navigating the fintech rollercoaster. It’s all about communication and collaboration, two things that women excel at,” shares Lyuba.

“Women are detail-oriented and risk-aware, but that doesn’t mean we’re afraid to innovate. We bring fresh perspectives and creative solutions to the table, pushing boundaries while keeping a watchful eye.”

 

— Lyuba Nochkina, Raistone Product Manager

Kimberly says, “Women possess the capability to excel in all areas. Through increased participation in educational endeavors and skill development, women in the fintech and finance sectors are defying stereotypes and surmounting obstacles. We cultivate innovation and creativity, striving to diminish the gender disparity in financial inclusion.”

Vivian shares that women are great communicators, “We bring a fresh perspective to the workforce.”

Cindy believes that women bring a unique set of perspectives. “The qualities women have, such as strong collaboration skills and attention to detail, are particularly valuable in roles that require navigating complex regulatory frameworks, managing risk, and building trust with shareholders.”

How have you seen attitudes toward women change over your career?

While there have historically been barriers women face to enter the fintech and finance industries, some of the women at Raistone reflect on how they have seen this attitude shift throughout their careers. 

Cindy notes that over the course of her career, she has seen a noticeable shift in attitudes surrounding women in the workplace. “I’ve seen a growing recognition of the value that women bring to the table. However, there is still work to be done to address gender disparities in senior leadership positions and to create more inclusive and equitable opportunities for women at all levels.”

“Anything ‘techy’ historically has been more appealing to men since technology is something more men tend to lean towards, However, with the push to get more women into STEM, I have seen more women going towards those jobs now, compared to the start of my career,” says Melissa. 

Kimberly shares, “Women have been underrepresented in senior positions within the finance industry. However, I have seen a noticeable shift occurring, with an increasing number of women assuming senior roles within the sector.”

Vivian says, “I have seen a shift in the attitudes surrounding women in finance and fintech, but it’s important to note there is still room for improvement.” 

Lisa reflects on the difference in women in finance from when she started her career to now.

“There has been a drastic increase in the inclusion of women in finance and other male-dominated industries. I believe we are heading in a positive direction.”

 

— Lisa Wright, Raistone Assistant Vice President of Finance and Accounting

What advice would you give young women who want to enter the fintech industry?

Lyuba specifically recalls one piece of advice that a manager gave to her: actively participate and voice your ideas, “Asking questions, sharing insights, and engaging in discussions are crucial. My diverse perspective enriches collaboration and fuels growth.”

“Go for it even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone. Women have so much to offer.”

 

— Melissa Crupi, Raistone Vice President of Revenue Operations and Enablement

Vivian shares, “I would tell any young woman who wants to enter this field to work hard, stay focused and determined. If possible, build a professional support system and get a mentor.” 

Kimberly advises, “Go for it! Show relentless determination, prioritize self-investment, maintain a thirst for knowledge, exert diligent effort, build networks, forge connections, and set your sights on the highest goals.”

Cindy’s advice to young women wanting to enter fintech is to believe in themselves and their abilities. “Don’t diminish your contributions or your experience. Skills and work ethic are valuable and more importantly, transferrable. Knowledge and experience can be gained, so embrace and seek out opportunities for continuous learning and growth.”

Who inspires you?

Many women emphasize the importance of finding other women to look up to and seek advice from, especially in male-dominated fields. 

Vivian shares that she is most inspired by her sister.

“My sister worked her way up the corporate ladder in finance. She spoke about her struggles in a male-dominated field, pay disparity, being overlooked for promotions and being excluded from projects because of her gender. I’m inspired that she has persevered and had success in this industry.”

 

— Vivian Jackson, Raistone Payment Line Manager

Kimberly shares, “The matriarchs in my family are a huge inspiration to me. My grandmother and my mother made the journey to this country to afford me a better education and career opportunities. It holds immense significance for me to exert diligent efforts in my education and career in order to strive for success, as attribute to their sacrifices.” 

Melissa says, “I look up to all of the women I have come across in my career. I’m grateful for the advice they gave me to go outside of my comfort zone and challenge myself every day.”

Cindy says her mom and her sister have always been her biggest inspiration. “While they are not in the same field or industry I am in, their work ethic, determination and resilience have led them both to director level positions in male-dominated industries, while also being primary caregivers, actively involved mothers and learning English as their second language.”

During Women’s History Month, Lyuba is always reminded of the way International Women’s Day is celebrated in her native country, Kyrgyzstan. 

“Growing up I vividly remember the streets overflowing with flowers, creating a sense of community and celebration. Women are showered with flowers, presents, attention, and most importantly, the recognition we deserve. It’s also a day where we remember that challenges still remain and to recommit ourselves to building a future where women can thrive equally.”

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