Claire's Story: Director of Innovation at Lloyds Banking Group

Claire Calmejane is a leading influencing figure in Financial Technology and one of the only females in the European Top 40 Fintech list. The French-born tech guru joined Lloyds Banking Group in 2012. Claire enjoys working on projects that make a difference and benefit people. She has supported the set-up of the Digital Academy at Lloyds Banking Group, which has helped 75, 000 of her colleagues to become digital leaders. She is a lecturer on Fintech and Digital Transformation at MIT, Oxford, UCL and HEC. Before joining the bank, she worked for Capgemini Consulting and has served as a visiting scientist at MIT, lecturing on how large organisations digitise.

Claire shares an insight into her career, her passion for women in FinTech and advice for young future leaders.

Starting out: Paris, Floppy Disks and Graduating

I grew up in Paris and in 2000, when I had to choose a career, the IT industry was blooming and seemed a sensible choice to ensure a successful career. The year of my high school graduation I won a minidisc player, 6 months later this technology was displaced by mp3 players. Cameras turned digital. Flappy, black, square floppy disks became USB sticks and Counterstrike was definitely a thing. The iPhone did not exist and phone screens were black and white. I did not access the internet at the high speed you know today, but by carefully monitoring my kilobytes consumption. The internet, and the pace of technological change was changing our lives forever and it was something I wanted to be part of. When I started at my IT Engineering school, I was the only woman in my class. I graduated first of my class in Cognitive Sciences and Artificial Intelligence.

A Career with Impact & Purpose

I went after roles that made me happy and fulfilled as an individual. Most of the time I created these roles by influencing their scope to match what I wanted. I aim for impact and work for companies that have purpose.

Most importantly, what has made my career is my team. I always choose people better at one skill than me.

Bringing innovation to life

My team is made of specialists from design, engineering and start-ups that work collaboratively with our stakeholders and external partners to bring innovation to life for our 25 million customers. The team is about to launch code clubs in Halifax branches, aiming to get people excited about coding. It’s really cool and I’m looking forward to it!

To build my team we recruited experts in their field and we ended up with 20 different nationalities, ethnic minority representatives, LGBT champions and 55% female colleagues. I feel that championing the female agenda has certainly helped to attract, develop and nurture talent and to bring a diverse range of perspectives to my team.

I’ve learnt that I will have better results by thinking of my employees as peers, empowered to take decisions and challenge the direction of travel of the team. I try to be the boss I want to have.

Being an ‘F of Fintech’

Im proud to be in the European Top 40 Fintech list. Being an ‘F of Fintech’ as my friend puts it, is a responsibility. For me, it started a decade ago when I became ‘Pi-shaped’ - combining technology and financial services before Fintech was trendy. I found all of the Fintech events near me, went to them and built up my understanding and my network. I often found myself paying to travel to other countries and never regretted it. I went from Boston to work in London, which was the Fintech capital, and took on a role at the biggest UK bank as head of digital delivery. I thought it would work out eventually – and it did!

2017 reflections

2017 has been quite a year and definitely highlighted gender imbalances. Industry leaders were confronted when they abused their powers and had to face the consequences. Think: Travis Kalanick from Uber who resigned in June following Susan Fowler’s revelations, James Darmore was fired by Google’s CEO in August after writing a memo criticizing the company’s diversity efforts, Harvey Weinstein and the sexual harassment claims by leading actresses. Alyssa Milano exposed the power of imbalances through her recent #MeToo campaign, which became a rally cry against harassment.

However, we are still at the beginning of the journey for equality at work, with fewer women running big companies than male CEO’s named John in America.

Influencing for Inclusivity

Unlocking the power of the female workforce will make 21 trillion dollars available for global economies. Gender equality is both a moral and economic imperative. We will not achieve progress until we deal with inequality in the workplace. The World Economic Forum’s latest gender gap survey in 2017 showed that it will take 47 years to western countries to close their gender gap.

It is my expectation to see women around the table discussing the most important topics in our societies and it is our job to provide role models. The mindset and mentalities of the most senior leaders of our industries have to change. It’s about influencing perceptions on what makes a successful employee and adjusting the workplace to suit men and women equally. Companies that do so are rewarded as they perform 20% better on average.

Supporting Women in Tech

Apple and Amazon started in a garage, Breakthrough Transformation - our women in tech network at Lloyds Banking Group - started in the canteen of our digital hub. This network forms part of the broader Breakthrough network at Lloyds Banking Group, which is the largest of its kind in the UK with over 15,000 members.

Lloyds Banking Group has been recognised as a top 50 employer for women, by the Times, and is working to help more women progress at work. We’ve pledged to have 40% of senior roles held by women by 2020, as part of our Helping Britain Prosper Plan.

We have also become the home for other women in tech networks such as #Femtechleaders and Women of The Future. We mentor female CEO’s in the technology sector, who represent 10% of the sector today. We do this because we are better together – supporting each other to grow and progress.

Advice for Future Female Leaders

My suggestion for young leaders is to equip yourself with a network of trusted friends, senior sponsors and mentors. Trust yourself and the leadership style that makes you unique, don’t conform to the rules that say that you should be ‘less emotional’ or ‘more collaborative’. Focus on outcomes, pat yourself on the back, and celebrate three successes a day. You are a rising star and you will make it to the top.

And for Aspiring Tech Leaders…

You are already a digital leader. Think how you can change the world if you decide to make it your career.

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