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Mary Agbesanwa: from Economics to Fintech Growth Lead

Social media handle(s): All listed here

A few words about me:

Mary Agbesanwa moderating a panel at a work conference.

My name is Mary Agbesanwa. I am Fintech Growth Lead at Seccl where I drive fintech sales supporting firms to launch leading UK-based DIY-investing apps and propositions.

I’m really passionate about how tech is transforming the financial industry as a whole and especially how it’s helping democratise wealth management. I am also the Learning Facilitator for Imperial College Business School’s quarterly Fintech Programme and a programme leader for Wharton Business school’s Executive Presence and Influence programme.

I am passionate about supporting women to achieve their full potential which is why I founded the Now You're Talking Network - a community and business that connects ambitious female leaders to opportunities and resources. To help women earn more and be more confident, we run community events, a regular newsletter and discussion groups. And I am also a board trustee for Girlguiding, the UK’s largest charity for women.

In my free time, I love trying new food, travel, swimming and listening to self-help audiobooks.

Are there any professional experiences you've had that are quite unexpected compared to what you do nowadays?

Most of my professional experiences to date have been in financial services. After university, I started my career in consulting at PwC where I was working with banks and fintechs on projects related to digital transformation.

However, I’d say that during my studies, I took a trial and error approach to getting professional experience and tried to get work experience in as many industries and companies as possible. I undertook internships at banks and consultancies to understand what environments I liked the most. What I learnt from this, is I enjoy working in client facing roles, working in teams and solving problems.

Is your background more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or non-STEM related?

Somewhat STEM-adjacent. I studied Economics at university. While Economics doesn’t fall under STEM, I see a lot of intersection between Economics and tech in terms of how technology is transforming financial services e.g. through automation and artificial intelligence.

Where did your professional journey start?

Professionally, I began my career in consulting after university. Education wise, I chose to study Economics at university because I was always really interested in how the world works. I’ve always been into numbers and maths, but I also enjoy reading and writing so Economics seemed like the right choice for me.

How did you get into tech and what motivated you?

At the previous consultancy where I worked, I ran the fintech accelerator for B2B fintechs connecting them to large financial institutions. Through this, I got to see first hand the potential of early-stage fintechs to disrupt and collaborate with bigger financial institutions, and also the potential of technology and its use cases.

In addition to working with fintechs, I spent a lot of time learning about and educating myself by subscribing to fintech newsletters, following thought leaders on twitter and reading books. I also focused on building my professional network by going to events on relevant topics.

Nowadays, you can find me a lot of the time at events and conferences talking about our tech and the future of fintech, as well as engaging with clients interested in this space which I really enjoy.

Have you experienced any 'career in tech' challenges / stereotypes?

The main challenge I face related to fintech and financial services, is that they are still not very diverse industries. I found that to be difficult in terms of not seeing many women or people of colour in leadership positions.

I rarely see or meet someone who looks like me at conferences. Sales is pretty white male dominated and I’m trying to help change that through my work and the content creation and thought leadership I do outside of it.

"Whether you are looking to join the industry or change your job within fintech, be sure to use your professional network."

What you wish you knew before getting started in tech...

I didn't realise how broad tech really is and how many different roles there are within tech. People know some common roles, like software developers and product managers, but there are so many more roles available in tech we don't talk about enough like project management, business operations and more.

So I’d say I underestimated how many different roles there are in tech and I believe we need to do more for people to learn about that.

What has been your biggest 'wow!' moment related to working in tech so far?

I would say my biggest ‘wow’ moment is in relation to wealth management. There is still so much to do in terms of gender parity as many women don’t invest. There is a well researched and well-documented gender investment gap and gender pay gap. This is a problem not only on a personal level for individual women, but also on a business level for corporations hoping to engage female investors.

Did you know if women invested at the same rate as men globally, there would be an extra $3.22 trillion dollars invested in the stock market by private individuals?

There’s a lot more that needs to be done to help more women invest and better manage their money and wealth. I’d advise women to start their investment journeys by dedicating more time to learning. A lot of women feel comfortable to take action when they have learnt more. You can start simple by reading two articles a week about investments. Investments can feel quite overwhelming but breaking the learning down into smaller chunks is more manageable.

What do you like / not like about working in tech?

I like working in an industry that thinks several steps ahead about changing the world. I enjoy being at the forefront of innovation led by technology.

What I don’t like is when tech is not used for good. This is often due to lack of representation in teams creating products. I also don’t like when women or minorities have to leave the industry because the companies don't make them feel welcome or included.

"People know some common roles, like software developers and product managers, but there are so many more roles available in tech we don't talk about enough like project management, business operations and more."

What's been your favourite / most memorable / funniest 'career in tech' moment so far?

My favourite and most memorable moment was when I received a Innovate Finance Women in Tech Powerlist award for the work that I have done in fintech in 2021. It was great being part of the list which shines light on women leading innovation in fintech. I made new friends and developed new partnerships from this so it was a great opportunity.

And to wrap up, is there any advice you'd like to give to others interested in a career in tech?

My top tip is that the phrase ‘your network is your net worth’ is definitely true. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people (concisely!) to ask specific questions. The fintech industry is still very new so networks really matter for building and progressing your career. Whether you are looking to join the industry or change your job within fintech, be sure to use your professional network. Many jobs are taken before you come across them on job boards so building a strong network is key.


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