Continuing our #womeninfintech series, we ask Regina Lau, Chief Strategy Officer, Retail Merchant Services, a TVC Portfolio Company and Executive Board Member of European Women Payments Network (EWPN), about her thoughts on International Women’s Day and the challenges and opportunities for women in the industry.
What does IWD & #ChooseToChallenge mean to you in your work life?
Regina Lau: International Womens’ Day (IWD) is a day to celebrate all the achievements from women around the world and also all the women who have been inspirational role models, no matter if they made big headlines or not. As a member of the Executive Board of European Women Payments Network (EWPN), this is also a very important day for us to continue the call for change and recommit to supporting all women. I believe that “when one rises, we all rise”.
What barriers did you face, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field and how did you overcome them?
Lau: I’ve always worked in male dominated industries, so I was often the only woman in the room (or at my level). It was challenging to ensure that my perspective and ideas were heard. I built as many relationships as possible with people who I knew supported and championed me. I also made sure I participated in discussions and meetings – if I was at the table, I was speaking up.
How could men contribute to support gender equality?
Lau: Mentor and sponsor women and give them equal access to opportunities. Give women credit. View women through the “people” lens – speak up and stop gender-biased language and descriptors (i.e. when a woman speaks in a direct style or promotes her ideas, she is often called “aggressive” and “ambitious.” But when a man does the same, he is seen as “confident” and “strong.”)
Can you tell us about your role model who have inspired you over your career?
Lau: I’ve admired many different women and men over my life. One piece of advice that stuck with me was “you deserve a seat at the table, and when you get that seat at the table, make it count”.
How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?
Lau: This is so important. I had very few female role models growing up and throughout most of my career. I wasn’t sure who had also experienced the same challenges I faced, and I didn’t know who to go to for support. This has made me even more aware of the need to support other women, no matter how small or big. Sometimes, people just need a listening ear or to know that someone else has gone through it before.
What is your favourite part of your job? And then the most rewarding?
Lau: Working in teams with colleagues and partners to solve problems is my favourite, and mentoring & coaching both women and men to help them grow and learn is very rewarding.
On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
Lau: Be bold, try new things and don’t underestimate yourself. You won’t know unless you try – and if you need to, try again.