Diversity and technology collaboration essential for innovation
IGEday, Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, is an annual event initiated by the Womengineer Foundation. Engineering companies and technology organisations are encouraged to open their doors to girls and non-binaries aged 13-19 to let them experience what it is like to be an engineer for one day. The aim of the day is for participants to meet role models and be inspired to choose engineering studies themselves.
Innovation equals diversity! That is the opinion of Feyza, Filippa and Carolina who work in the field of electronic currency trading. Here, the boundaries between business and technological development have been relaxed and diversity has increased.
Carolina Trujillo Escudero is head of E FX Distribution, a unit that works with electronic systems for currency trading. Filippa Bång works as a quantitative trader and Feyza Chatti has a dual role as a Lead Business Analyst and business developer.
Both Carolina and Filippa belong to the business division while Feyza divides her time between the Technology division and the business division. Her dual role is an example of how the distinction between what is rather carelessly called ‘business and IT’ is diminishing.
Carolina, who has been at SEB since 2010, sees a big change.
“I remember the first time I visited our technology department. In those days they sat secluded in their own premises and it attracted attention when we from ‘the business’ came to visit. The distance between the groups was considerable and we didn’t know that much about each other or what we were working on.”
At that time there was a strict division between client and developer. The business division ordered a function and a few months later the developers came back with a complete solution. In the worst case, this did not remotely match the original request.
“A lot has happened since then. Now, when we have a problem we try to solve it together. We work as a team, with ongoing testing and adjustments to ensure that the solution is as good as possible. We work in an agile process and have really got rid of ‘them and us’,” says Carolina.
Filippa, who started at SEB four years ago, has not experienced this earlier strict division.
“Since I started at the bank we have had a close and smooth-functioning collaboration with Technology. This has been essential for the ability to drive the product forward in an efficient and scalable way,” she says.
Feyza, who has worked previously in France and the USA and joined SEB two years ago, agrees that major changes have taken place.
“When I started working 15 years ago it was according to the so-called waterfall model. In those days we worked in big projects where it could take months between order and the first demo of the finished solution. Today we work in an agile way, in short development phases where the business is always involved. So, sure there has been a major journey but at the same time I do believe we can do even more,” she says.
Feyza draws a comparison with a fintech company where business and technological development are fully integrated.
“Instead of proposing complete solutions, this is about involving the tech team at an early stage, defining a common problem and allowing the developers to use their entire potential to find good solutions. This involves co-creation in order to achieve innovation,” she says.
Currency trading is a relatively male-dominated area both on the business side and within Technology. SEB is therefore making active efforts to attract more women to this area.
“We are trying to get young women to understand that SEB is a long-term workplace that offers very many opportunities to try different areas, to learn and to grow,” says manager Carolina.
Feyza and her colleagues are active in various student activities to attract women interested in technology to SEB.
“For example, we take part in the Pink Programming network and recently had a day where we invited girls between 13 and 19 to see how we work and the opportunities available within the bank. The event Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day was carried out in collaboration with Womengineer. The aim is to get more girls to discover technology and retain this interest during their further studies.
“We are also reviewing how we design recruitment ads. It is generally considered that girls are more self-critical and are reluctant to apply if they do not meet all the requirements listed in a job ad,” she says.
Why is it important to achieve a more even gender balance and greater diversity?
“We work at lot with innovation and there an inclusive and diversified workplace is a basic requirement,” says Filippa.
“Yes, innovation equals diversity. A diversified team with different perspectives and different backgrounds is far better placed to achieve an open, innovative and creative climate,” says Feyza.
“It is also far more fun to work with different types of people with different personalities and backgrounds. This creates fruitful meetings and discussions and provides a totally different dynamic than a group that is far too similar,” says Carolina.