11 Female Role Models Leading Innovation in Banking

by Victoria Yasinetskaya on Mar 8, 2019

Banks are innovating and accelerating change, driven by their visionary leaders and talent within digital innovation. In keeping with progress happening in the banking sector, a growing number of these leaders are women.

Both challenger banks and the innovation departments within incumbent banks all around the world are becoming increasingly diverse, putting more women in positions of power, as role models, and as true leaders in their respective areas.  

What are the vital ingredients for true innovation?

This, without doubt is subject to opinion, but those that rank above all others include: thinking outside the box, the contribution of different perspectives to important conversations, agility, speed of execution, prioritizing the needs of customers and shifting the focus from the bottom line to bringing in the right talent, motivated to do their job for more than just a competitive salary at the end of each month.

The key is making a team feel that they belong to a new disruptive solution that can improve lives of many.

All of that requires DIVERSITY. Not just diversity of background, but also of cultural beliefs, age and indeed gender.

It is great to see a growing number of women leading innovation at large banks, challenger banks and also other major players in the financial services market.

This is not an exhaustive list, but the following women include many I have had a pleasure to meet and to interview for my book (to be published soon), or simply are leaders in their field that I have heard very positive things about or have enjoyed listening to at conferences as keynote speakers.


Here they are, in no particular order:


1) Almudena Román - Directora General de ING España (Spain)

Almudena took over as CEO of the bank with a FinTech mindset in 2013- an innovative style of banking unique to ING. She relishes the challenges the banking sector is facing at present and is heading up the digital development of the bank with huge excitement, “generating passion not pressure” in her team. 


2) Ekaterina Sannikova - Head of Deutsche Bank Russia TechCenter (Russia)

After 10 years with Deutsche Bank, Ekaterina is responsible for technology solutions for electronic trading, algorithmic trading, client and market connectivity amongst other things.  This TechCenter is the laboratory where the next generation of solutions and innovations in banking will be created, using software to provide better banking experiences.


3) Lindsey Argalas - Chief Digital and Innovation Officer at Banco Santander (Spain)

Lindsey with her 9 years’ experience in Silicon Valley and long list of academic achievements has a lot to bring to the banking sector and its much-needed update: “Santander’s strength, serving 128 million customers, presents tremendous opportunity to deliver highly innovative digital experiences. I am excited to be part of this important transformation, bringing the best of technology to benefit customers’ financial lives.”


4) Roberta Profeta - Senior Manager Multichannel Office - Intesa Sanpaolo (Italy)

Roberta recently wrote a blogpost entitled “Digital Transformation is not a Buzzword”, stating that “Digital Transformation closes the gap between what digital customers already expect and what analog businesses actually deliver”. Keen to give the status quo within banking an overhaul, she knows where to make change for the biggest impact.

5) Anna Maj - FinTech & Payments Leader at PwC (Poland)

Named one of the Top 20 Women in FinTech, Anna is an active member in FinTech circles and in pivotal in building cooperation models between banks and FinTechs. She has 19 years’ experience in the European banking and payments industries and is a force to be reckoned with having formed part of the creation of numerous payment gateways and platforms around the world.

6) Margarita Henao - VP Products (Colombia)

Margarita is at the forefront of huge banking innovation in Colombia and in collaboration with Strands, created the first PFM mobile banking app for Davivienda, one of Colombia’s largest and most forward- thinking banks. She embraces the change and the opportunity it brings to create new and better solutions for their customers.

7) Livia Chanes - Director of Digital Channels at Itaú (Brazil)
This is a bank that listens to the customer, thanks to incentives such as Itaú Insights, “an open innovation challenge created by Itaú, together with Mastertech, which aims to stimulate the development of digital solutions”. Livia is clear that to be the best bank, you have to providing solutions to problems that real people and businesses face.

8) Carolina Parraguez - Digital Bank Director at Banco de Chile (Chile)
More than 17 years at Banco de Chile, the country’s largest bank, heading up digital advances in the region’s financial sector, Carolina more than a little insight into the future of banking, what’s next in mobile and how to stay ahead of the curve.

9) Charlotte Hogg - CEO, Visa Europe (UK)

Charlotte has more than 25 years’ experience in the finance industry including roles at the Bank of England, Santander UK and Experian, and several years as CEO of Goldfish Bank. She was appointed CEO of Visa’s European operations in 2017, at a moment of huge change within the company and significant competition from other market players. An Oxford University graduate and a woman taking charge of the future of Visa in Europe.

10) Sofia Fossati - VP Personal Financial Management at Citibanamex (México)

7 years at Citibanamex in charge of Personal Financial Management, in a country that is still relatively new to this move into more customer-centric banking, Sofía is playing an important role in bringing this new breed of banking to the Mexican public. Citibanamex is the second largest banks in the country.

11) Anne Boden - CEO at Starling Bank (UK)

Not the first time Anne has been one of our favorites, as the CEO of one of the most pioneering banks in the UK and Europe. She’s convinced “big banks won’t be able to compete in a digital future” because challenger banks like Starling will do more with less than the traditional high street bank. She began creating a brand new digital bank in January 2014. Far from being able to draw on her experience in banks such as Lloyds and AIB, she found it more of setback than a benefit. “I was a computer scientist, I was a woman, but I was also an ex-banker, and that was just as difficult.” 


Although it is true that women continue to be under-represented in many male-dominated industries, we can't help but continue to be inspired by the women role models in banking today that are leading change, becoming respected influencers, and driving impact.


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Victoria Yasinetskaya
Victoria Yasinetskaya

Marketing expert with 11+ years of experience executing marketing and strategy projects, mainly in financial services and FinTech. Co-author of the Russian edition of the international bestseller "Reinventing Financial Services".

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