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Six women who led Australia’s fintech sector in 2021

CEOs of Telstra and Microsoft recently encouraged members of The Champions of Change Coalition to promote further programs that help to reduce gender discrimination in the tech industry.

Women make up only 29 % of employment in technology in Australia, compared to 48 % in similar occupations in the professional, scientific and technical services industries, according to the Australian Computer Society’s Digital Pulse 2021 report.

In part, this reflects “long-standing gender stereotypes about suitable careers for men and women”.

The gender issue is also prevalent across the startup world. While startups co-founded by women in Australia received 20 % venture capital funding in the first half of 2021 – up from 15% in prior years, there remains a substantial opportunity to increase funding and investing by women for women. 

BCG research found that when women business owners pitch their ideas to investors for early-stage capital, they receive significantly less funding than their male counterparts. Yet businesses founded by women ultimately deliver higher revenue, up to twice as much. 

An analysis from 2019 found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 % more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile — up from 21 % in 2017 and 15 % in 2014 – demonstrating the impact that gender equality can have on businesses outcomes.

Unfortunately, there is a significant way to go until we have an equitable business landscape, and that’s no more prevalent than in the finance sector. Across Australia, finance has the second largest gender pay gap at 24.1%, only behind Professional, Scientific and Technical Services, which sits at 25.3%. 

It’s vital that this is addressed, and one way of doing so is to champion those who are breaking barriers and leading the way. We have a truly flourishing finance industry here in Australia, with so many amazing women at its helm. I am a strong advocate for women supporting women, so, as we reflect on 2021, I thought I’d highlight some fellow female execs who had some of the biggest impacts on me.   

Tonia Berglund, ANZ Director of Product at Envestnet | Yodlee

Six women who led Australia’s fintech sector in 2021

Tonia oversees Envestnet I Yodlee’s data aggregation, enrichment and wellness solutions in Australia and New Zealand, focusing on Open Banking and what benefits an open data ecosystem can bring to Australian Banks and Fintechs. 

With over 18 years of experience in the Finance sector, Tonia has led teams across CBA, Westpac and the Federal Government, all with the vision of transforming the way industry can innovate and change towards a better banking experience for Australian business and consumers. 

Tonia has led programs from launching and improving core lending systems to partnerships between Banks and Fintechs and is passionate about helping banks and Fintechs innovate and drive better and more secure customer outcomes.

Philippa Watson, CEO of 86 400 and Ubank

Six women who led Australia’s fintech sector in 2021

UBank CEO Philippa Watson joined the company in 2020 and has recently been appointed CEO of both Ubank and 86 400. Philippa joined UBank, having held a range of senior executive roles spanning digital banking, technology, operations, customer service, sales, finance, risk management, compliance, and strategy. 

These roles have involved accountability for functions in Australia, the USA, the UK, China, and South Africa. Before that, Philippa was at CBA, where she led one of the bank’s largest frontline teams, Direct Channels. This was a team of approximately 3,000 people across four contact centre businesses, including general service, home and unsecured lending, fraud management, collections, and hardship.

Simone Joyce, CEO & Founder at Paypa Plane

Six women who led Australia’s fintech sector in 2021

Simone co-founded Paypa Plane, the bank-grade platform where traditional scheduled payments and digital, data-rich, and real-time payments work together – in September 2017. 

Elected to the Fintech Australia Board of Directors 2019 and as Chair in 2020, Simone also led the Payment Working Group for Fintech Australia, sits on the Eftpos Fintech Advisory Committee, the ASIC Digital Advisory Committee, and the Emerging Payment Asia Regulatory Working Group. 

Simone has many years of experience in payment and Fintech-focused companies, which has been recognised over the years – with Simone recently becoming a Finnies Awards finalist for Outstanding Fintech Leader of the Year and Female Fintech Leader of the Year (2021), winning the Paris Fintech Forum Fintech Award (2020) and the Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Global Entrepreneur Grant (2019). 

Marie Mortimer, Managing Director at loans.com.au

Six women who led Australia’s fintech sector in 2021

Marie launched loans.com.au in 2011 and has grown it into a business with $6 billion worth of home loans and car loans under management. Marie has been instrumental in changing how Australians apply for home loans by moving them online and away from traditional brick-and-mortar banks. 

Before her time at loans.com.au, Marie worked across Finance and IT in Australia and the UK. Marie is passionate about developing the Fintech industry in Australia: she is both a director of FinTech Australia and FinTech Queensland. She is a proud Rise Up Academy Member, a global movement to increase diversity and the voice of women in financial services globally.

Jamie Leach, Regional Director Australia & New Zealand at Financial Data and Technology Association (FData)

Six women who led Australia’s fintech sector in 2021

Jamie Leach is Regional Director for Australia/New Zealand at FDATA and founder of Open Data Australia™. She has experienced a diverse corporate career, holding senior roles across the banking, technology, defence, and telecommunications sectors. 

Her work with data commenced as an Electronic Warfare Linguist in the Royal Australian Navy, transitioning into technical finance roles, before culminating in the leadership of tech companies focused on predictive analytics, geospatial disciplines, and the application of artificial intelligence. 

Jamie has worked with numerous banking brands and international vendors on re-designing and engineering their open banking/open energy solutions and policies. Jamie is also an advisor to the United Nation’s Capital Electronic Develop Fund.

Rebecca Schott-Guppy, Former CEO at Fintech Australia

Six women who led Australia’s fintech sector in 2021
Rebecca Schot-Guppy, CEO of Fintech Australia was photographed in Melbourne by Elke Meitzel

In recent years, Rebecca Schott-Guppy has been a key figurehead in Australia’s fintech ecosystem. For the past three years, Rebecca held the role of CEO at leading industry body, Fintech Australia – responsible for building a strong finance ecosystem, fostering connections and supporting innovation and regulation in the sector. 

Before Fintech Australia, Rebecca held the role of community manager for Stone & Chalk and currently sits on the Australia & New Zealand Electronic Invoicing Board and the PMC Modernising Business Committee. 

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Lauren Applegate

Lauren Applegate

Lauren Applegate is a customer success and retention expert with deep experience in the financial industry. As Envestnet | Yodlee’s ANZ Director of Customer Success and Marketing, Lauren’s role is centred around ensuring that her customers can innovate, succeed, and grow through the use of Data Aggregation, Account Verification, Data Enrichment, Financial Wellness, and Credit Accelerator tools. With a background of executing marketing functions for online start-ups, as well as holding sales leadership roles within large Insurance providers, Lauren has a great mix of experience to assist everyone from small Fintech’s to large Financial Institutions with their growth strategies.

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