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Influential women in payments

Apr 07, 2020

An interview with Paulette Rowe, who was recently named one of the most influential women in payments, about her experiences in the workplace and in handling setbacks and criticism.

At Paysafe Diversity and Inclusion is a strategic priority. We continue to focus on gender diversity as one of our core objectives and have many initiatives underway to support gender equality in the organisation. The needle is moving, and we are seeing more and more women joining and being promoted at all levels of the organisation.

Following her recent inclusion in PaymentsSource’s most influential women in payments 2020, we spoke to Paulette Rowe about her experiences in the workplace, how important it is as a woman to support other women at work and her experiences in handling setbacks and criticism. Paulette runs our Integrated and Ecommerce solutions team globally as well as being on Paysafe’s Executive Committee.

What advice would you give to other women who are looking to progress to management level?

You need to let people know who you are and what you’re contributing. I’ve met a number of talented women who were frustrated about being overlooked even though they were working extremely hard and delivering great results.  Men are typically better at using networks to raise their profile and making sure their impact is more widely known.

While I was based at GE Capital I was introduced to the concept of ‘PIE’ – which stands for performance, image/influence and exposure. Like so many other women, I thought if I focused on being a great performer, recognition and career growth would automatically come my way. PIE taught me that thinking solely about your performance doesn’t work. Once you are performing in your role performance becomes table stakes and gradually becomes only 10% of what people consider when they think about your role and your next promotion. The narrative that you build, your personal brand and your general ‘influence’ represents 30%, but your exposure and who knows about what you do is a massive 60%.

The notion of ‘PIE’ has proved helpful to me to progress from functional leadership role into general management.  I knew I needed to gain experience running sales so I proactively engaged with senior leaders to ensure they were aware of not only my contributions in my existing role but also my ambition to become a general manager. By working on all three elements of the PIE model, I was able to make the jump from managing a product team of 300 to overseeing a sales organisation of 3,000.

During your career to date, what is the best piece of advice you’ve been given and how have you used it?

I will always be grateful to a leadership development coach who helped me appreciate the power of being open and not afraid to show vulnerability. Up until then I was always very private at work. I liked my colleagues but kept them at a distance. Coming from a Caribbean culture I was uncomfortable letting people “know my business”. What I didn’t realise at the time, is that not being open about who you are and what drives you makes it hard to build trust with others. In my case although my colleagues thought I was a strong performer they were suspicious of my motives and therefore unlikely to fully get behind my ideas.

Although it didn’t come naturally at first, I have learnt to bring my full self to work and am a much more open book. I now like to share what’s happening in both my work and personal life and am very much myself. I have developed much better working relationships as a result and have become a better leader as by opening up about myself my teams feel more able to do the same. I have also found out how much colleagues are willing to support each other when we are able to make authentic connections. It’s been a hugely rewarding journey.

What has been your riskiest career move so far?

Moving to Facebook. I went from managing a large business within a 300-year-old bank to being a Facebook “n00bie”, managing a much smaller team and learning how to be a leader in big tech.  I am so glad that I did it. Leaders at Facebook are incredibly humble and I had to adapt to using my influence without hierarchy. It’s been just a few weeks since I left Facebook but I can already feel how my time there has changed my approach.

How should we handle a career setback, like losing your job?

Don’t panic. Use the time to expand your network. The headhunters will call but remember that the best opportunities are likely to come via someone who knows you (It’s been a long time since I applied for a role through the traditional job application route). Find people who have survived similar experiences. What did they do? Their stories will inspire you and provide you with helpful tips. And take some time for yourself. You have worked hard and some time to pause and reflect may feel like a luxury but may do you the world of good.

Is ‘unconscious bias’ holding women in the workplace back?

Unfortunately yes, and I have experienced it myself. I am a big believer in women supporting each other. If you have ever worried about joining a women’s network don’t - I owe so much to the many women who have supported me and my career. However, there must also be a focus on managers and ensuring they attend appropriate training and receive feedback. Most companies have implemented robust systems for providing employees with downward reviews however not enough ensure that teams can provide anonymous feedback about their line managers who may not realise how their behaviour is impacting individuals. In addition to the normal performance KPIs, leaders should also be assessed on their ability to build and manage diverse teams.  No-one should be left unchallenged for behaviour which is not inclusive.

What advice would you offer to other women who might be starting out their career in financial services?

One of Paysafe’s values is ‘courageous’ and I think being courageous is one of the best things you can do to progress your career. Be bold and don’t wait for permission. If you have an idea or you’re passionate about something, go after it. Your determination will make you stand out from everyone else.