Fintech’s Renaissance With Sallie Krawcheck, Sarah Levy, Dani Fava & Lule Demmissie
I believe that women are the key to unlocking a better financial future for the world.
That is why I search and cover the stories of women and allies who are innovating in the world of fintech with a mindful approach. I’m not looking to cover the highest raise, but the biggest impact.
Instead of pursuing the fastest go-to-market strategy, I opt for leaders and companies that best serve those who need it most. I view ‘Femme’ as a way to embrace the inclusive, nurturing, nuanced and emotionally intelligent aspects of our humanity. Can you imagine if that’s how people described fintech?
The past year and a half of building Fintech Is Femme has been a whirlwind, but one thing I’ve become sure of is that:
Our vulnerability is strategic.
Our sensitivity is strong.
Our femininity is inspiring.
Authenticity is a superpower.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. You can take page from Lule Demmissie’s book, a Black queer woman who has prevailed in a space that was never made for her. Or Dani Fava, one of few brilliant minds that make up only 4% female innovation leaders. Or Sarah Levy, who switched gears from global leader in media-entertainment to fintech CEO. And lastly Sallie Krawcheck, who looked around Wall Street — said enough was enough — and chose to build the first fintech company for women, by women.
Their stories are not only theirs. They are yours. Their stories are ours.
Here are my key takeaways from last night’s event:
#1 Flip the Narrative with Lule Demmissie
When things get tough. Flip the narrative. Choose to see what’s happening in fintech from a different angle. Lule Demmissie uses her “flipped narrative” strategy to navigate any challenge. Yes, we’ve been excluded, but that makes us more resilient. What if that loss is another learning opportunity?
Her strategy works when we embrace our intersectionality. Not because it can open doors for us, but because it provides us with a powerful tool. This tool is our third eye, one that allows us to gain empathy for those around us and understand the complexity of navigating every space.
The fact that we come from intersectional backgrounds gives us a unique perspective that allows us to approach any situation with a level of sensitivity and understanding that can be invaluable. Embracing our intersectionality gives us the courage and confidence to break down barriers to success.
#2 Lead With Curiosity With Sarah Levy
You know Spongebob? Well, we might not have the classic silly yellow sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea without Sarah Levy.
The lessons she’s learned as Nickelodeon’s Chief Operating Officer have served her well on her journey to becoming CEO of Betterment, a leading Fintech company.
After 18 years at the renowned children’s network, Sarah has demonstrated that both personal and professional fulfillment are attainable. She knows first hand that ‘work-life balance’ is an unrealistic concept, but rather emphasizes the importance of family involvement in achieving success.
Her enthusiasm for learning and embracing new experiences has allowed her to make her mark in the industry, proving that ambition and hard work pay off. As she continues to lead Betterment forward, she hopes to inspire others to pursue their dreams and develop a meaningful career.
#3 Never Playing By the Rules With Dani Fava
Dani Fava’s story is a classic example of innovating out of necessity. Early in her career, she literally coded her way into innovation roles because as a young single Latina mom, she needed to automate her job so she could do it all. Today, she’s one of the brilliant minds that make up just 4% of female innovation leaders in fintech.
But throughout her carrier, she’s battled with wearing her “second skin” other wise known as her alter-ego (he’s called Digby Whitaker, but I much prefer Dani Fava) that she turned on when she knew becoming as close to a cis white male as possible would catapult her success – but what’s success if you can’t be yourself?
In 2014, Dani finally came out as gay, and it was the biggest and most freeing change for her life and career.
“I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders, and it made a world of difference in my professional trajectory. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was, but it felt like I no longer had to expend so much energy to be someone I wasn’t,” she shared on stage.
Instead, Dani could put that effort into her work and use her whole self to pursue the career she desired.
#4 Stamina & Support of All Women With Sallie Krawcheck
Sallie’s mission has always been to get more money in the hands of women, because the research is clear – societies are fairer, families are better off, markets are stronger, and nonprofits are more effective when women have more money.
Yet, the gender pay gap has not moved in the 10 years.
Venture capital dollars going to women have actually decreased, and our reproductive rights have been under attack. We have been convinced to play the game of success as an individual sport, when in reality, the men in our lives have been playing it as a team sport for some time.
When Ellevest raised money over a year and a half ago, it was a difficult process, since there are so few women investors in the venture capital world. Yet, through the power of women, Ellevest was able to raise $52 million from over 650 investors – most of whom were from underrepresented backgrounds.
This is why it is important for us to come together and support each other no matter what – because when we do, we are stronger and more successful.
That means supporting ALL women with the full commitment to helping ALL women build and retain wealth, so they can have more opportunities and financial freedom they need and deserve.
Women’s unity and support is a powerful force, yet many of us remain stuck in unfulfilling circumstances. There are too many women still stuck in marriages that do not serve us, jobs that do not fulfill us, and businesses that never get off the ground because of money. Let’s unite, use our collective power to help unlock our individual power, and realize that nothing bad happens when women have more money.