Interview

EWPN - "the tribe" of inspiring women in payments and fintech

Friday 2 November 2018 10:04 CET | Interview

On the 15th of October 2018, the European Women Payments Network hosted the 2nd Annual Conference in Amsterdam.

For two days, over 250 women networked, attended great talks, and listened to inspirational advice from industry experts, women and men, working in cards, fintech and payments. The European Women Payments Network was founded in 2015, with the main goal to create a professional and safe community that brings together women working in fintech and payments through mentorship, leadership programmes, membership, networking events, and workshops.

We took the opportunity to sit down with Martha Mghendi-Fisher, Nadja van der Veer, and Silvia Mensdorff-Pouilly, the three founding pillars of EWPN, to learn about the event and network’s future plans.

Attendants, social media channels, man allies that support EWPN have concluded that the event was a big success and definitely an eye-opener; great company, inspirational panel discussions, and supportive attitude. However we were curious to know what the organizers’ event takeaways were.

Silvia: Not only the recent conference’s takeaways, but the essence of the learning from EWPN and something that I believe in very deeply:

Don’t wait to be empowered – You Have the Power!

If you know what you want, if you see something you want to change, or somewhere that you want to make an impact – go for it, don’t wait for permission – make yourself be heard – find people that have the same passion and be the change!

For example, we wanted more diverse speakers and panellists at our payment conference. Starting with 2017, when we had our first event, we had many first time speakers and panelists, and since then they have gone on to speak and share their views on the industry with other events and forums. They are the change and they are driving diversity!

Another example is Male Allies saying no to Manels (Male only Panels) – it is great to see how broad the support is. I look forward to further building the network and welcoming everyone that wants to contribute and be part of the change.

One of the biggest announcements during the meeting was that Money2020, an event series connecting innovators from the payments, fintech and financial services ecosystem, will partner with EWPN and host the third European Women Payments Network (EWPN) annual conference. Besides the fact that the EWPN 2019 conference will move to the RAI in Amsterdam and take place alongside Money20/20 Europe in June 2019, what does this announcement bring to the payments industry?

Nadja: Both organisations have aligned goals to promote diversity and inclusivity in FinTech and share the belief that inclusive businesses are better businesses. Not only will the EWPN conference be held at the same date and location as Money2020, EWPN will be Money2020’s exclusive supporting partner for Money2020’s launch of its Rise Up program in Europe, where a selected group of women will receive support and actionable skills to take the next steps within their careers, exposing them to contacts, mentors, executive training and learnings during the Money2020 conference. EWPN members will be offered the opportunity to apply for the program and there will be a selected number of seats confirmed for EWPN members. EWPN members will receive an exclusive rate to access the Money2020 event and Money2020 attendees will also become eligible for a special price. The awards dinner of EWPN will be held separately at another location to be announced. EWPN welcomes main supporting partner Money2020 to the tribe and is looking forward to expanding the conference and the network.

The female talent in the payments industry was under the spotlight, at the Awards Dinner, and companies and female professionals were awarded across five categories. One of the prize was called “Inspirational Woman of the Year” and we were curious to find out what does winning this prize mean to the winner?

Martha: This award is for all EWPN team, our members, partners, sponsors and supporters. Without all their support, EWPN tribe would just be a vision. And to all women, especially minority women, immigrants and minority groups, please remember that you are never too small or too irrelevant to be the change in this world.

It’s hard to believe just how far we have come within such a short period of time. It goes on to support the fact that, when the whole team shares the same passion, drive and commitment, execution becomes the most natural thing to do. When I started EWPN, I had no idea that it would grow as fast as it did. Having identified the key partners, my Co-Founders Nadja and Silvia, who not only shared the industry knowledge, but also the passion to champion for a diverse industry, was the greatest win. We laid our strong foundation based on trust, love and respect for not only one another, but also fellow colleagues. The first year was challenging, and many times I asked myself what I had gotten myself into. But I knew from the core of my heart that this was going to work out just fine and we would overcome the challenges.

Nadja: I am extremely honoured and grateful to have received the Inspirational Women of the Year award. During my career, I have been inspired and helped by many people to progress my career. Each one of them has contributed to the person I am today, someone who does not lose sight of her goals and someone with bigger dreams, always. With EWPN and the support system we are building for women (and other minority groups) in the industry, my hopes were just to give back a little. When we started and founded the network we had no idea it would grasp this much attention and recognition so quickly. Giving back a little has, all of the sudden, become so much more in only 2 years and it is still quite unbelievable to see how we are inspiring others to join and cooperate with us every day. We are the proof of what can be achieved by a group of people passionate for a cause. Winning this award would not have been possible without the inspiration I have received from the EWPN tribe, including Martha and Silvia, my fellow award winners, for whom I have the deepest respect and love.

Silvia: I cannot describe what the award means to me! I am a payment geek at heart and really enjoy working and being part of this industry for 20 years and I love being part of this initiative supporting the much-needed change!

Working with Martha, Nadja and the rest of the EWPN tribe has been such a surprise. Why surprise? Well, we never expected that EWPN would have such an impact and that we would get so much support and positive help. We all know that, when you build your career, you need a good support network and being able to give back through the network is very rewarding.

The EWPN Annual Conference & Awards was a huge success, and we want to take this opportunity to thank the EWPN team for having us there. Congratulations to the co-founders, Martha Mghendi-Fisher, Nadja van der Veer and Silvia Mensdorff-Pouilly as well as the whole EWPN team and Stanley Skoglund and Miranda McLean, for organizing such a complex and inspiring event!


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Keywords: European Women Payments Network, EWPN, fintech, payments, gender gap, Money 2020, Martha Mghendi Fisher, Silvia Mensdorff Pouilly, Nadja van der Veer
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