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Women in tech interview series: Instalment six with Shelby Austin, CEO at Arteria AI

In this latest instalment of our women in tech interview series, we talk to the CEO of Arteria AI, Shelby Austin about her thoughts on diversity and inclusion and her career experiences.

In your opinion, why is there a gender gap in Fintech?

There is a gender gap in all of technology, not just Fintech. It is particularly troubling that only 2% of venture capital funding goes to companies that are founded by women when we represent 51% of the population. I believe this is part of a broader equality problem, not just around gender, but around marginalized communities within entrepreneurial spaces.

That said, I believe both technology and banking have historically lacked diversity and that trickles down into Fintech too.

Why did you choose a career in Fintech?

Before attending law school, I had a technical academic background which led me to pursuing a career in banking, finance and fintech. I was also inspired by how much documentation there was in law, and I realized that my technological proficiency and my experience in managing technical teams would make Fintech my ideal career path as it bridges everything I love.

If you look at my career, I was a partner at a law firm, then I ran artificial intelligence and data for a large multi-national company. Every industry I worked for was associated with financial services and it is where I felt most qualified, but also from a functional perspective, banking has many contextualized spaces where you really must understand what you are doing. For instance, it is hard to understand trading or credit without full comprehension.

Additionally, from a technical perspective, you are covering various disciplines, including design, artificial intelligence, full stack dev and front end, all of which create a compelling area to work in.

Did you ever feel that career opportunities were not open to you because you were a woman?

My career path likely opened up because I am a woman. Managing documentation within law firms was often a task that given to women. It was not necessarily the most glamorous work, but it was incredible to be involved on the ground floor of an area that evolved into a multibillion-dollar industry.

What is the best piece of career advice you have been given?

The best piece of career advice I have been given is that it is a lot easier to be successful if you work the hardest and keep going when others stop. If you never stop, you become much harder to beat. I guess to this day, I continue to flunk as much if not more than anyone else, but I also continue to keep getting up and going.

What makes you proud to be a woman in tech?

I feel as though my purpose as a woman in tech is to create new jobs in future-led industries, and fortunately I have had the opportunity over the course of my career to create thousands!

As such, it also helps that I hire diverse candidates.

As employers, we need to do the homework, we need to look at our pay equity and need to hire deliberately. We need to look at our job postings and our technical requirements to ensure we are not inadvertently imposing bias. Arteria is incredibly diverse, which also naturally happens when you have role models who are different.

Diversity is important, and our product is better because we acquire a wider range of ideas and inputs. Every executive committee I have ever had has been diverse because bringing different perspectives to the table makes us all better.

I have had two kids for most of my career and have been so lucky to be able to create my own playing field. I just hope that all who identify as women, understand that we have autonomy and can go anywhere in our careers.

At Arteria, we trust you to work when and where you choose, as long as your goals and objectives are achieved. It is through this mindset that I think women, particularly working mothers, can succeed in the higher-level positions. When you provide flexibility, you're not saying to women “you can't be a great developer if you can't make that meeting because you drop off your kids during the stand-up” or “you can't be a great salesperson if you can't take the client to a particular event.”

If you would like to be part of the Women in tech conversation and would like to share your experiences and thoughts, please get in touch with us.