We are proud to announce that Innovate Finance has named two of Zopa’s leading women on its Women in Fintech 2017 Powerlist. Both Marie Steinthaler, Zopa’s Head of New Products, and Natasha Wear, our Head of Investment Products, were included on the list.
The Women in Fintech Powerlist celebrates the women shaping the fintech industry, and how they are instrumental in driving success across the sector.
We caught up with Marie and Tash to discuss their top career advice and who they look to for their inspiration.
Here’s what they had to say:
On their best career achievements so far:
Tash: When I worked at Buckingham Palace and got to fly in the Queen’s helicopter, that was definitely a highlight!
Actually, a big achievement for me, was when I wasn’t in the office at all. I was unfortunate enough to get malaria earlier in the year whilst on holiday and ended up being off work for over a month.
During that time, I was managing a product development team who had a number of big deadlines. I was very proud that they were still able to deliver on these projects in my absence. The biggest test of a manager’s ability to lead a team is what the team can do when they are not there!
Marie: My happiest moment was probably building my first ‘proper’ product team at Zopa – engineering, design, and product coming together to build a new product for our customers.
While I’d managed small numbers of people in previous roles before, this was the first time I had a bigger group looking to me for direction.
Being able to outline to people with very different backgrounds why what we were working on mattered and how to make it a reality was a huge challenge but extremely rewarding when it worked out.
Then there was growing Hopster, the kid’s TV and learning app, from 0 customers to hundreds of thousands of users in over 120 countries over the course of less than a year. And last but not least, winning last year’s Zopathon (Zopa’s annual hackathon event) with Team FinYang.
Their best career advice:
Tash: I started out as a strategy consultant and used to think of a career as quite a linear thing: every year you progress through the ranks until eventually you make it, exhausted but elated, to be a partner.
At some point I realised that careers are long (50 years +) and the world of work is changing faster than it ever has. Therefore, my new approach is to make sure that I’m always learning, from the people around me and the situations I get exposed to. Zopa is a fast-growing company and the way to solve a problem a year ago is already different to the way to do it today.
Being open to doing things differently and working with people who think differently to you not only results in a better outcome but it also helps to give you some ideas about where you might want to go next in your career.
Marie: I read a lot. Read read read. But more importantly, it’s about taking the key things from what you read and trying to apply them in small experiments. Otherwise, you’ll drown in a sea of ideas and only feel more daunted about starting.
On that note, give a chance, take a chance. Sometimes, even when you don’t feel 100% ready for something, there’ll be nothing to get you up to speed quicker than giving it a go. This willingness to take a leap and be open to serendipity has definitely enabled me to achieve things and meet people that I never expected to be able to get close to.
Likewise, when you see others trying, reach out and help them make it happen – you never know what you might learn from it!
And finally, the women who inspire them:
Tash: I have always been in awe of female athletes and the dedication and commitment they show to their discipline. I grew up watching a lot of athletics and tennis and have always been inspired by the likes of the Williams sisters and Paula Radcliffe.
Serena Williams has won more Grand Slam titles than any male tennis player and has no plans to retire after giving birth: she is the definition of grit.
Marie: I admire Natalie Portman, who is not only an amazing actress, but moreover very intelligent, involved in ethical causes, and just inspiring all round.
A friend told me about Octavia Hill, and blew my mind in the process, as I’d never heard about her before. She was a 19th century social reform campaigner, founder of the National Trust, and incredible woman. Look her up!