Being a female fintech leader in 2024

As we celebrate International Women's Day we spoke to 2 female leaders from 2 successful Scottish fintechs. We got their thoughts, opinions and hopes for the future. Recognising progress around inclusion and diversity, their responsibilities in becoming role model, they also offer their thoughts on what the next steps towards a more inclusive sector need to be.


Pardeep Cassells - Global Head of Buyside Client Experience at AccessFintech

As a Scottish woman and second-generation immigrant of Indian heritage, I am proud to be an example of intersectionality this International Women’s Day.

Forging a path in the unquestionably male-dominated fintech sector, I am very fortunate to be working for a company where the leadership team advocate for, and support, women in the sector. Knowing that I’m part of a team with higher-than-average female representation - and that the representation covers all role types - is something in which I take great pride.

Having followed a route from investment operations through to financial technology, I’ve had the privilege to be supported by many men and women who ensured my voice was heard and recognised my input whilst giving time and energy without question or condescension.

From the first – mostly male - senior leaders I worked with, who never overlooked the efforts of a vocal and determined young woman, to those who helped me evolve into someone a little more polished and encouraged me as I took what felt like a scary step into the world of fintech, I felt the support of a village around me.

When specifically considering female role models, my mind never hesitates to recall my first Head of Department in Dundee, who came through the ranks in a far less diverse world but carved her own inspiring path, both personally and professionally. However, I now more clearly see that while senior role models and their backing have been key to my progression, the input of my female peers and those less experienced has been just as crucial.

Receiving support not just from those who came ahead of me but from women of my own generation during my time working in fintech has motived me in many ways. Experiencing this support and camaraderie, not just within my own organisation but from colleagues across other fintechs, banks and investment operations firms, has been transformative.

I am, through all of this, keenly aware that I have a platform; that my platform should be used to open the door for others and to put as much energy as I can muster into lifting up the women around me and the next generation to come, whilst encouraging them to do the same for each other.

This is how the world will change.

This ripple effect of reciprocal support, of creating networks where each voice – regardless of gender or ethnicity – is heard and every person encouraged to achieve their potential in their own way is something that I see daily, and I am incredibly excited by this momentum.


Julia Salmond - Founder and CEO at CienDos

In the rapidly evolving landscape of fintech, the need for a more diverse workforce is becoming increasingly significant, and Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is now viewed as a critical asset. As a mid-career professional who has worked across a number of sectors, I have witnessed firsthand the unique skills females can bring to fast-paced, innovative, and scaling businesses, and I have also experienced a number of challenges female leaders face.

My journey into fintech has been an interesting one.  Starting out in ‘big corporate’, initially as a consultant before moving into corporate banking, I gained an insight into the intricacies of regulatory compliance and the importance of leveraging technology. More importantly, I was fortunate to be influenced by a number of female role-models, who were pivotal in shaping my early career trajectory.  These women taught me about the importance of balancing logic and critical thinking with emotional awareness, how to develop my personal ‘brand’ and build a voice of authority in an historically male-dominated sector.

I took the leap from big corporate into the start-up world about a decade ago and, suddenly, I was the one in the position of influence. Although certainly not limited to women, high emotional intelligence is a trait I have seen in many of my female mentors, and it is something I have focussed on while developing my leadership style. I am not afraid of sharing my strengths, blind spots, and vulnerabilities – and I encourage my team to do the same. Creating a team culture, where everybody is trusted to take ownership, develops a strong shared vision - a critical component in the success of that first venture – rapidly scaling and exiting to a global media and data business.

As I continue to scale my new venture, CienDos, I am excited about playing a small part in developing the next generation of strong female leaders – a critical ingredient in the recipe for any successful fintech.