When a woman steps up, she not only paves her own path but also makes sure to lift others around her. It is their all-inclusive approach that separates women from the herd.
Many women, through their exemplary leadership, have set an example for upcoming leaders. Keeping light intact on such influential leaders from across different disciplines, we at Insights Success set out on endeavor to find “Most Inspiring Women of Influence” from across different disciplines and industries. On this journey, we crossed our paths with Kate Bohn, a transformational leader, an innovation evangelist, and Connector.
Having spent 20+ years in Financial Services, Kate has held various leadership positions at organizations such as Ipreo, Lloyds Banking Group, Deutsche Bank, and Citigroup. Currently, her focus is on creating partnerships and engaging with accelerators, incubators, start-ups, and scales-ups to offer them incredible access to founders, users, clients, fintechs, tech giants and other Financial Services brands.
We got into conversation with Kate to unveil her inspiring journey and how she has contributed to the finance space.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position. What challenges you had to overcome to reach where you are today?
Many of the challenges I have overcome to date have been similar to those regularly experienced by women, racial minorities and other marginalised employees (from micro-agressions to he-peating, man-splaining, oblique slights and interruptions), and yet I have also had incredible privilege. As a white woman with two University degrees and a strong survival instinct, I am aware that many doors have been opened that might otherwise have remained closed for those who do not have this academic or birth privilege.
More uniquely, I have also overcome various scrapes with cancer, and a broken spine (as a pedestrian involved in a road traffic accident) and yet remain upright and pushing the boundaries where I can. Given my ‘squiggly’ career path, having started my career path in the Art World before moving across to Financial Services, I would also dare to suggest that anyone who doesn’t have some sense of ‘winging it’ is likely kidding themselves and their audience. In all things, I have worked hard to remain open to new ideas, new ways of working, and new challenges to be explored with a sense of how can I get comfortable with being able to say ‘YES!’ rather than ‘no.’ I have talked about the power of ‘Yes, if’ and ‘Yes, and’ before and I remain grateful to Vicki Lintern for introducing me to these terms.
Enlighten us on how you have made an impact in the Financial Services through your expertise in the market.
I am a regular speaker for diversity (across many lenses, not just gender) and, given my background, I have a natural bias towards Design Thinking through expansive thinking, empathy and the deep-seated desire to experiment.
An example of my desire to experiment and disrupt defunct methodologies is seen in my work as a co-founder for an Industry Utility (www.tradeideas.org) delivered as a joint venture company between four investment banks that completely reimagined and simplified the way in which trade ideas message routing and electronic alpha capture were managed in the early Noughties. That utility persists today and I am incredibly proud to have been part of the original inception and delivery. This was the beginning of seeing how simplification and democratisation of content and systems could bring systems, vendors, platforms, banks, brokers and consumers together for collective benefit. This core driver remains with me today.
Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?
I am always keen to start with the ‘problem to be solved.’ From there we can look at different technologies – known or emerging – that are best fit for the outcome we are seeking. I never start with the technology, preferring to begin at the identified pain point being experienced by end users or society.
Technology itself is a wonderful tool and we are only just beginning to catch up from an ethics and governance perspective with the various advancements and potential applications being seen every day. Financial Services underpin nearly every aspect of our lives, it is too important to run before we can walk in this regard. It behoves us all to ensure we do no harm both now and into the future, and really understand both the realized and potential implications of how we apply technology. I am not alone in believing that the best way we can do this is to have engagement from as broad a base as possible as we seek outcomes that deliver benefit for all.
If given a chance, what change would you like to bring in the finance industry?
I would like to see parity of financial support across all entrepreneurs – where the capability being offered is of benefit, lets back it! The academic research on why diverse teams/boards/founding teams outperform others has been around for a while, and yet the needle is moving almost glacially slowly in this area. Let’s start judging everyone on their potential, rather than selectively seeking evidence of experience from minority groups.
When I was working at Lloyds Banking Group, I managed to create gender parity across their Commercial Bank Markets talent pipeline. Many had tried and failed. And yet I completed the ask within 12weeks, unaided except for the amazing support of external agencies and our collective creative thinking. As Anne Boden has stated in respect of setting up a new SME focused Bank (Starling Bank), sometimes you have to just get on with the task in hand and do it – if you just start putting one foot in front of the other, its extraordinary what outcomes and adventures are to be made.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run and what are your future goals?
I hope to be able to look back at my career and feel that I made a difference – big or small, without compromising my personal ethics or individuality. I would like to remain active in the innovative sphere as a mentor, advisor, NED, and I would definitely like to keep enabling more women to realise their full potential.
I am working on HOW I make these goals come to life but they remain a clear North Star for me.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the Fintech sector?
Check your resilience and passion for whatever you are seeking to deliver. Chances are the path will bring you to your knees on more than one occasion, so if you don’t REALLY believe in what you’re attempting to do, perhaps look at other routes to support your goals and aspirations. That being said – all power to you.