Stake your claim, make your space, don’t ask for an invitation — just go for it
Meet Tuva Palm, a Swedish female fintech executive, and the living embodiment of a Power Woman. We met up with Tuva for a chat about being a woman in a male-dominated industry, her role as the only female on the Lunar Way board, and to get some tips on being a successful woman in the fintech industry.
Tuva is currently the Chief Technology Officer and Chief Product Officer for Nordnet Bank. Nordnet was the first digital bank in Europe. She is very engaged in the Nordic region, especially Stockholm’s start-up scene, as both an investor and facilitator who hosts big events. It was at one of these events she first met Ken, the founder of Lunar Way. She immediate liked the company’s strategy and ambition, and went to Aarhus to meet the team and try the product.
She recognised Lunar Way as an innovative and creative start-up, with a customer centric approach that’s missing from most start-ups.
She formally joined the Lunar Way board in April 2016.
What is your story?
My story! Well, I started off in the real techy side of fintech, first as a compiler developer, and then building real-time systems for the finance sector. I started working with more consumer-focused companies, such as Swedish unicorn Klarna, and started taking on more of a managerial role. I was lucky to be part of Klarna’s big expansion, including local growth and international expansion. Basically, every KPI you could follow exploded, they were off the charts.
This experience, combined with my unusual tech background, took me to the centre of Sweden’s fintech scene. So when Nordnet were looking for a kick-ass CTO to turn their business around, they found me. At Nordnet I’ve stabilised what was already in place, while building something completely new.
In 18 months I have rebuilt the architecture, switched the platform, changed the design, released new apps and launched a bunch of new products focused on robo-advice, AI and UX.
What is it like to be a woman in the fintech/tech industry?
First of all, fintech is an extremely fun industry to work in. It’s inspiring, it’s exciting, it’s about leading an industry that’s changing rapidly, and making an impact on how future generations will live their lives.
In relation to being a woman in fintech, it has its advantages and disadvantages, of course. You can be questioned more, as always when you step outside the norm, but you also get more attention when you succeed.
As human beings we tend to generalise too much. That doesn’t mean the person who ‘generalises’ is automatically discriminating against women. Reality proves the opposite, diversity is proven to drive innovation, and we have seen research proving a more diverse company gets better results.
How could the tech industry attract more women?
When it comes to women in tech we see many females tend to choose less technical high schools or universities. The fundamental reasons behind this start from a very young age, and we should ensure we address this from kindergarten onwards. Both girls and boys should be encouraged to develop an interest in the basics of mathematics, so they won’t be afraid to deal or work with technology later in life.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
Other women! My network of powerful women is so much stronger than any network amongst men. There are not many of us so we stick together, help each other, and watch each other’s backs. We’re extremely tight.
We share our insights and reflections on business amongst some of the world’s most successful people. It’s like a sisterhood with complete trust, and I value it greatly.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned?
The s**t will always hit the fan. There’s no avoiding it. It’s how you react to it that determines who you are and where you will end up.
What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career?
When I entered the tech world people were still amazed we could program a computer without using physical cards, so there has been a few transformations since then. But I’d have to say, the smart phone and the app store is the greatest transformation in technology. It’s not a huge technical innovation in itself, because it is based on several smaller innovations that had been around in some form for years. But the use case that followed opened up a new economy, new ways of working, and it was a true facilitator of the expansion of the start-ups we see today.
What are your thoughts on the next transformation in the tech industry?
Of course, it is AI. We are only just seeing the early potential of AI. As amazing as it looks now, it’s the smartphone equivalent of an early Nokia compared to where it will be in a few years. The foundation and the basic technology are already there.
We have what it takes to create next generation tech products, but I believe we will see a few years of elaboration and experiments before the true hockey-stick-effect and our lives will once again change tremendously.
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the fintech industry?
Go for it. It will be the most inspiring exciting industry to be in. Be one of the pioneers. Do not ever let the perception of a boys club in tech put you off. Stake your claim, make your space, don’t ask for an invitation — just go for it.