Technology and finance? Not an issue women typically want to deal with – that’s at least what statistics say.
But for Inna Leontenkova these words are exciting. Technology and finance are a more complicated challenge – and for Inna challenges are fun.
Inna holds a Master’s degree in International Management from London School of Economics and a Master’s degree in Finance from London Business School. Before she joined Finleap, a company builder based in Berlin, she worked at Aviva Insurance, Groupon and foodpanda.
With Fintech Insider Inna talked about Perseus and the balance between men and women in the world of Fintech.
1) To work productively the essential part of the day is the morning. How do you start your day at Perseus?
I am an early bird, and I usually wake up before my (just in case) alarm and am usually full of energy in the mornings, ready to discover new continents.
Office is quite far away, we moved to a new campus just next to Zoologischer Garten, so on the way there (cycle or S-Bahn) I plan the day, read up on news, send happy birthday messages, report to my grandmother on what I am wearing today.
As most startups we kick off the day with a full team stand up, which we will have to abandon soon as the team is expanding very fast. The purpose of the meetings is to enable others, coordinate execution, add content, interview and so forth. Evenings are usually dedicated to emails, business planning and recapping.
2) How does your working environment look like? Who are you working with mostly?
Our venture is quite balanced and diverse, but in general the work environment in Fintech is indeed “dominated” by men, it’s a normal thing. Dominated is a funny word, I should rather say “preferred by”. I have always worked and studied in environment with men being the majority, so I am used to that and do not feel negatively about it. In fact, I think it sometimes can be a good thing, but of course – balance is king.
3) Do you also have female colleagues?
At my Perseus Venture, I am proud to say that we are very gender balanced – at some point of the building process, my two male Co-Founders were even the only men in the team. Currently, we still have 30 Percent women working at Perseus – which is a good average, considering that we are working in the sector of cybersecurity and insurance.
At Finleap, I am so far the only female Co-Founder, but there are women on other management levels at the Company Builder that are great to work with, and many have become friends as well. Carolin Gabor is one of the Managing Partners of Finleap, she is an amazing mentor, and I learn a lot from her.
4) How do you perceive the working atmosphere at Perseus?
It depends, fast paced, sometimes requiring juggling 100 things at a time and quick prioritization and decisions, cooperating with very diverse people and balancing resources. Sometimes this can be stressful, but it’s pretty much always fun.
On a side note I have to say that I try to influence my working atmosphere myself as much as possible, in order to make it enjoyable. I don’t wait for someone to become concerned about me – if I need something or don’t like something I usually take action to change it.
5) As your work environment is dominated by men, have there been a moment in which you thought „I would like to be more respected by my male colleagues“?
I only tend to think along these lines when someone behaves like they were poorly brought up and their manners leave room for improvement. The thought is more like “I wish I didn’t have to deal with underqualified / inexperienced people”. But I would not say its gender specific, there is no difference in treating people with respect. In fact I think men are more fair at work, as they can better separate personal and business issues. I have great working relationship with my co-founders, based on respect, and shared interest and goals.
6) How do men and women differ when it comes to build up a career?
I think many women have an attitude waiting for things to be given to them, instead of being proactive, knowing what they want, asking for things. I can guarantee that your boss is not going to sleep thinking “how I can help someone else in their career” – and men are much better in defining their path and go-getter attitude.
Moreover I think women are better at creating 1-to-1 relationships, deeper relationships. So I would recommend focusing more on one person at a time, rather than big crowded events. Its more sustainable and easier.
7) And how do we convince more women to come into the Fintech scene?
The question could also be: How do we convince more men to come into the children apparel scene? Diversity brings more ideas, new ways to solve problems, and it’s also more fun. But I don’t think a 50 / 50 split is attainable in every industry – although I wish it could be, as it’s definitely a major asset, not only for Fintechs.