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International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality. The theme this year is #BreakTheBias, and we are proud to have a team of strong and powerful women leading us here at Acin. Acin CFO Ruth Jakobsen took the time to answer a few questions about her experiences, her career challenges and how to inspire women to start their career in FinTech.
Tell us about you, your current role and what you do on a day-to-day basis at Acin and at home.
My current role is CFO of Acin, I’ve been here for five months so am one of the more recent joiners. I’m responsible for finance and strategy here at Acin, which includes long term strategic planning. As a CFO I’m responsible for planning our growth, ensuring that we have sufficient funds to execute on that growth, measuring performance, driving efficiencies, and tax and accounting compliance. I have a team of two, Phil Swords our Financial Controller and Sparsha Hebbur, our Business Strategy Director.
Now more interestingly, I have two daughters, they’re five and seven years old. And whilst during the week I work full time, I try to spend weekends with my family. We love cycling and walks because we live in the countryside, and recently we’ve been skiing for the first time as a family which was very nice and the girls loved it! It was a lovely experience and a very nice half term. Personally, I am a very dedicated skier; and one of my great pleasures is to go on a skiing holiday. I also practice yoga almost every day.
As a Senior Leadership Team member at Acin, what excites you about your experience compared with previous firms?
I believe in Acin’s proposition and the fact that the problem it is solving is very real. When you buy into the service or product the venture is creating it is a very exciting journey indeed to execute its growth plan. I am also excited that there is still a lot of the journey left and looking forward to growing together with Acin. I have recently attended Google Cloud’s Women in Fintech event and it brought home how few women (comparably) work in fintech. As one of those women I look forward to doing my bit in making the fintech industry more diverse.
How did you start out on your career?
I have always been attracted to finance, even at high school. If “money makes the world go round” then I wanted to understand how and why it happens. As an undergraduate I studied Business Administration majoring in finance. After university I felt that I needed more practical experience so decided to become a Chartered Accountant and joined PwC’s programme. I carried on working in advisory financial roles as an auditor, then transaction services, then M&A advisor, then venture capital fund. I realised that I wanted to be closer to the action and execution which lead to several strategic and commercial roles in large corporations interspersed with working with growing ventures. Five years ago, I did an executive MBA and decided to focus on working with growing ventures which eventually lead me to Acin.
What barriers and opportunities did you face along the way, both professionally and personally?
When I look back at my career, I feel that I had to work exceptionally hard to achieve every bit of learning and experience I got. Without any doubt my career like many others suffered from the financial crisis of 2008 but at the same time it accelerated my transition from advising to working inside the businesses. As a woman, I felt the lack of suitable mentors and role models. Because there are few women at the C-level roles particularly in tech industries young women just don’t have the same opportunities as men to follow in the footsteps of their gender. This is changing slowly but hopefully surely.
On a personal level I have two children and finding that balance between family and work can be a challenge, but it is also an opportunity. You become very good at time management and prioritising!
What would you say to women who have reservations about a career in Fintech?
It depends on what those reservations are. The technology sector including fintech has been growing and changing the world rapidly. Tech is part of our lives and in my opinion is the singularly most exciting sector to be in so I say to women out there get stuck in, we should not be missing out on this opportunity to participate in the industry that is changing the world.
What would you tell your 21-year-old self?
Perhaps controversially, I think I would have to say slow down, enjoy the moment and the learning process you are going through. By all means have goals but enjoy the detours that life offers you. The career path is not a ladder but a “jungle gym” to quote Sheryl Sandberg.
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