Going Against the Grain with Marieke Flament
CEO @ Mettle
Marieke is a French-born computer engineer who has worked across the globe in a diverse range of companies that include Boston Consulting Group,Expedia’s Hotels.com and Circle, one of the world’s largest crypto companies.
Marieke is now the CEO of Mettle, a unique fintech proposition as the app-based business account for small businesses, backed by NatWest. She is passionate about exploring the ways in which technology can be used to change people’s lives and is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in financ eand technology. Marieke was recognised in the Women in FinTech Power list for2019 and frequently provides media commentary on technology and the future of finance.
Have you seen a progression for better equality in the workplace?
When I was studying Computer Science, women made up 10% of the faculty. Unfortunately, I don’t think that number has changed much, and I believe there is still a lot of stigma and biases that we still need to break: for example, skills like coding are not just for boys.
If we want to build better products that are inclusive, and for everybody, then we need diversity and inclusion in the teams that are building these products. Otherwise unconscious biases are built-in, and the output won’t reflect the society they should serve.
Closer to home, today Mettle is 22% women. It’s slightly better than theFinTech average of 15% but for me this isn’t good enough, we still have work to do.
How do we overcome these biases?
The first part for me is realising that we all have them. So step one starts with awareness. Biases are mental shortcuts so that your brain can go faster and process an ever-increasing amount of information, but that means thatyou might take shortcuts such as “oh, that person is like me so they will understand what I’m looking to achieve”.
I think the Black Lives Matter movement, especially through COVID, was so important because it made the conversation not only thrive but also mandatory. I found that a very empowering moment because we had employees speaking out and feeling comfortable about doing that. And that helped raise awareness of our biases.
What’s the next step after awareness for you? How does an anti-bias agenda play out?
It plays the biggest role in recruiting for me. When you recruit someone, it’s easy to recruit someone that is like you. So, I do my best to champion finding people who complement each other, and cover blind spots we might have, rather than people who look and feel the same.
My job as a leader is to facilitate conversations and help those perspectives come together.
What drives you and what you stand for?
The fundamental thing that drives me is that life is very short. For most of us, what we choose to do in life is up to us. So I always ask myself if whatI’m doing is worthy of that decision. As I get older, my sense of purpose and doing something meaningful is getting stronger. And for me, this translates down to the team I lead - do we collectively work for a purpose, and are we helping to shape the world in a better way?
How influential has exposing yourself to new cultures and adapting to new surroundings been in your career?
It’s probably the thing that influences me the most. It goes all the way back to my childhood. My parents moved countries regularly so uprooting myself and being forced to meet new people and make friends quickly has been a very formative part of my life. This gave me an opportunity to constantly reinvent myself as well as appreciate that we all have our individual perspective on the world we live in.
So today the way I think within a company is influenced by that perspective.A finance director will have a different perspective on a problem from that of a product manager, who in turn might have a different perspective to
a designer. My job as a leader is to facilitate conversations and help those perspectives come together.
I also place a high priority on being curious in order to stay relevant. The world continues to evolve so I feel I must continually look for opportunities to evolve with it.
How have you managed to juggle personal goals alongside professional ones?
One of the positive effects of COVID is that I’ve been able to spend more time with my son - I’ve seen live his first steps, and I’m not sure that would have happened if we were not in lockdown. I’m lucky to have a partner whois also an entrepreneur and we both have a lot of empathy for what we both do so we try our best to split responsibilities at home and with our young family in a 50/50 way.
But I also know that for a lot of people it’s not truly a 50/50 split and remote working can democratise opportunities at a larger scale. As a leader, I need to understand when that is not the case for a team member and act accordingly.
Another area that helps me a great deal is sports. It has always been a big part of my life, especially basketball - both from a physical fitness perspective but also mental fitness through the concept of coaching. I have for many years had a coach who helps me solve problems and see things from a different perspective. I think it’s a myth that you have to accomplish great things on your own.
If we want to build better products that are inclusive, and for everybody, then we need diversity and inclusion in the teams that are building these products.
Have you ever had a mentor? If so, what makes a mentor/mentee relationship work?
The first thing I will say is that I believe a mentor is different from a coach.For me, a mentor is someone from your industry or profession, that is more senior to you, that can help you navigate your environment. A coach for
me is someone who is more external to your profession, who can provide a completely different perspective as well as varied ways to approach a situation. I’ve had several mentors throughout my career, who have played a key role in my development. And today I do mentor a lot of people.
I also believe that within a mentor/mentee relationship, both parties can bring something to the table. A mentor can learn a lot about a mentee’s problem that can help widen their own understanding of the issues younger professionals face.
I would encourage young professionals to not restrict themselves to finding a mentor of the same gender. Choosing a mentor of a different gender is a great opportunity to widen your perspective on an environment, problem or goal.
Finally, if your relationship with a mentor or coach doesn’t work, change it!
The 2021 For Everyone Report
Freelancers are doing work that will be seen by billions of people. So, as an industry, we have a duty to ensure that we’re creating work that influences a culture we are proud of. And even if we at YunoJuno can’t affect the work that gets made, we can highlight where there is room to level the playing field by showcasing great creative and tech talent regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or beliefs. In doing so, we can help the freelance community and client network logging on to YunoJuno access to a talent pool as diverse as the people they will influence.
This is the motivation behind this report and we are proud to champion equality in every way. For everyone.
Check out the report