LEADING LADY IN FINTECH
What's your story? What drew you to FinTech?
I’ve always worked in security and high tech, after pursuing my love for events with a technology company with operations around the world. The technology industry is unlike any other field – it’s always exciting, never boring and there is always something cutting edge that keeps you on your toes. I’m driven by dynamic, ever changing industries where every day is different, so FinTech was a natural fit. The industry, while still relatively new, is always changing and providing equally new and exciting opportunities to learn and grow.
What makes FinTech an exciting area to build your career in?
In Toronto specifically, FinTech is a quickly emerging, dynamic and continually changing industry. According to KPMG, Toronto will break out as one of the world’s leading technology innovation hubs over the next four years – demonstrating that the industry is only going to continue growing here. It’s a very exciting time for SecureKey to work with the top financial institutions and innovative partners to bring our new cutting-edge solution, Verified.Me to market.
What do you think are some of the most exciting FinTech trends likely to influence the Financial Services industry?
One of the biggest trends is blockchain, without a doubt. Blockchain has the potential to change the way organizations do business across a number of sectors, but particularly in FinTech, because information can be shared securely, which allows organizations to build trust with clients and consumers. SecureKey is working with IBM’s Blockchain service to do just this, while delivering services that comply with data protection and confidentiality regulations like KYC and others.
Can you tell us a little bit about your job function? What are some of the solutions that your company offers?
The marketing and communications team acts as a central point for many of the disparate pieces of the business. As vice president of global communications, I’m responsible for the overall communications for everything related to SecureKey, including public relations, social media, content development, digital marketing, speaking engagements, event management, and much more!
SecureKey is a leading identity and authentication provider. Since launching in 2008, we have developed two major solutions to simplify consumer access to online services and applications. SecureKey Concierge Service™ is a federated authentication network for conveniently connecting people to critical online services.
Launching soon, Verified.Me is a new Canadian service helping consumers to verify their identity quickly and securely from any iOS- or Android smartphone, using personal information that they consent to share from their financial institution or other trusted providers they already have a relationship with. Consumers stay in control of their information by choosing when to share information and with whom, reducing unnecessary oversharing of personal information. As vice president of global communications, I lead the Go-To Market team for all of the network participants, and act as the central lead between SecureKey and all of the financial institution’s marketing teams.
When building or interacting with FinTech companies, what is the most critical element to take into consideration from a data security perspective?
This can’t be refined to one particular element; there are multiple things that come into play and need to be considered. One of the most important is security and shifting the mindset of FinTech companies to accept alternate methods of authentication. We’re seeing so many companies issuing user IDs and passwords, which makes it much easier for hackers to get access to information. We need FinTech companies to accept trusted credentials that individuals already have today as a way to verify identity.
What is essential to ensuring FinTech companies attain gender equality?
It’s important that organizations across all sectors and sizes attain equal representation of all genders. At SecureKey – as a small company – it’s important to consider equality and diversity from the beginning. We have a strong presence of women at the executive level; our chief security officer Rene McIver brings over 18 years of information experience to SecureKey, and our senior vice president of finance and human resources Susan Fisher does great work managing all of our accounting, tax and human resource functions of the organization. Across all levels, we have a very tight-knit community of women, who love both the technology industry and spending time with one another. We all even dressed up as the ladies of Ocean 8 for Halloween!
We are also invested in taking part in female-specific initiatives outside of the office. Many of us have presented at female-specific speaking opportunities and panels and engaged in recruitment events looking for top female talent to work with us. We’re dedicated to diversifying our workplace and are proud to offer flexible workplace policies to accommodate for differing schedules.
We’ve also woven gender equality into our corporate social responsibility strategy. We’ve recently started working with FINCA Canada a partner organization of FINCA International, a not-for-profit corporation that provides small loans and savings accounts to people living in poverty across Africa, Eurasia, Latin America, the Middle East and South Asia. The organization is dedicated to empowering women by raising their profile and providing them with the resources they need to grow a business. We’re so proud to support this organization and to see the tremendous impact they have on bettering the lives of women across the globe.
What are some of the ways in which you have personally helped further the gender equality cause?
Personally, I am involved with FINCA as an oppHERtunity ambassador. Through this initiative, I help to raise awareness of the organization and mobilize resources to support FINCA’s mission, by hosting and participating in events, speaking about women’s empowerment and supporting with marketing efforts to spread the word about the great work that FINCA is doing. I’m truly believe in the work that FINCA is doing to alleviate poverty and empower women and am so excited to be a part of such meaningful work.
In the office, we’re proud to celebrate International Women’s Day in the office – an initiative that I kicked off this year and due to its incredible success, one that we will continue to celebrate each year with insightful guest speakers and fun activities for the entire office to participate in. This has become such a big movement across the country and one that we truly believe in.
If you did not need to sleep, how would you spend the extra eight hours a day?
Family is so important to me, so spending time with my husband and kids would be my first priority. I have been fortunate enough to travel the world and first on my bucket list would be to take my family to Australia for a year. The laid-back living, sun, sand, scuba diving, natural surroundings, overall culture and the way of living really appeals to me.
I also love to learn something new. My latest obsession is podcasts – I find it so therapeutic to zone out listening to an educational podcast and to finish the episode with new insights that I can apply to my everyday life. I am a fan of Rachel Hollis and her RISE podcast as she inspires me to live the best way I can. Juggling a career, family and furry creatures is a balance many women struggle with – myself included – and all I have to say is, Girl Wash Your Face! Her latest book is entitled this, and it is so good and relatable.
I’m also currently learning pottery with my girlfriends. We typically do girls night on Wednesdays and decided that instead of going for drinks, we would learn a new hobby. We’re definitely no experts (yet!) but it’s so fun to get the girls together each week and clear our minds, while trying something new!
In Sarah Douglas's own words, exclusively for LADIES iN FINTECH.
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