Women in FinTech: A chat with Marzia Deodato, Software Developer at Barclays and Organiser and Speaker at Google's Women Techmakers Scotland
Written By: Marzia Deodato – 2 min read
As part of our Women in FinTech focus we were delighted to catch up with Marzia Deodato, Software Developer at Barclays and Organiser at Google’s Women Techmaker initiative. We were keen to understand more about Marzia, her experience and journey working in financial services and technology sectors, and her thoughts on some of the key issues facing the industry today. She caught up with Fintech-Tables and shared her thoughts below:
What key challenges do you see facing companies today, in the following areas:
- Digital Transformation & Technology Adoption
When it comes to digital transformation, we always need to prioritise the accessibility of services. Research about what types of users the product is targeting is fundamental in making sure nobody is left behind in the adoption of new systems and features.
Let’s say for example that a company creates a new application for its services. It could be a web, mobile or wearable devices application. Users need to be at the centre of the design process from start to finish and beyond. This means that even if the product is complete and in use, we need to gather regular feedback. Digital transformation happens when feedback from users using services is gathered and analysed in detail long-term. This will create continuous improvement and better technology adoption over time.
- Talent & Skills
As technology is evolving in an extremely fast manner, skill gaps are inevitable in the workplace. New applications might need to be introduced in a company, and new skills are associated with that. The team working with the new software will have to undergo training to get the required skills, or new hiring for those skills can be conducted. It’s important to mprioritise training for the workforce for upcoming projects, as this prepares the employees to be ready for change and to grow professionally. Looking at graduate jobs in the technology sector, there has been a lot of attention on hiring for transferable skills. This means that as long as candidates demonstrate skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and analytical reasoning, the specific technologies to work with can be taught on the job.
- Digital Workplaces
After the pandemic, most of the companies in the tech sector switched to hybrid working. Working from home a few days a week, and going to the office for the remaining days, gives employees lots of flexibility. On top of this, a 4-day working week has been considered by some companies, and working remotely from abroad has become an option too. The digital workplace is being transformed and challenges arise with that. When working from home or remotely, communication with teammates is done via instant messaging and calls. Digital overload can develop as the number of messages and calls increases. It can be difficult to unplug from work as the workload and workday span can extend to coordinate teams that are based in different time zones. Digital workplaces can bring challenges in career growth as well as people might feel disengaged in attending online events for career development, and networking with other teams. These types of activities can be more efficient if done in person, but it ultimately depends on individual preferences and in what environment the individual feels more productive.
- Customer Experience
Let’s look at the example of chat boxes to examine challenges in customer experience. Companies are implementing chat boxes to automatically guide customers’ queries into answers already present somewhere else in the website or in existing articles. It might happen that once you are redirected to these articles, you still have to find the right answer and would prefer to speak in real time with customer assistance. As users are connected to many channels, from companies websites, to social media, and as technology advancements grow exponentially, customers are expecting to get what they want and need as fast as possible. The challenge in customer experience is to provide immediate response and personalised answers to the type of queries customers make. Demand for assistance is growing as digital transformation is evolving, but personalisation in customer experience still plays an important part.
What are the biggest trends and technologies powering products and services in your area of expertise?
The biggest trends that technology has seen in recent times are definitely artificial intelligence and machine learning. With the incredible growth of data, the industry is demanding more products that can deliver fast outcomes on a large scale. AI is capable of reaching this goal. ChatGPT, the natural language processing tool that allows users to type text and receive immediate answers, has been growing exponentially around the globe. Integration of these types of tools can help the workforce in day to day more tedious tasks. Another AI trend is the low-code/ no-code AI, which provides friendly interfaces to drag and drop without writing extensive lines of code. This brings accessibility of AI to users that are not coming from a technical background.
What role do you see technology playing increasing capacity for business efficiency across your industry?
Technology is the protagonist in the journey to efficiency in the industry. Thanks to technology we have major advancements in how fast and accurate processes and applications are. The cloud is a major actor, by connecting to the servers on the Internet, we can access applications, data, softwares at any time and anywhere. It allows teams to collaborate on documents simultaneously and the storage capacity the cloud provides can be changed according to the needs of the business. Since the cloud is an on-demand service, it allows to increase or decrease storage easily depending if the project is expanding or decommissioning. Thanks to this flexibility, resources are managed much more efficiently and waste is reduced.
We would love to hear about your personal story. Tell us about your career Journey – what skills, mindset and approach have enabled you to be successful in your role?
Throughout my studies and my role, I have always had the mindset of prioritising my personal and career development. This means that every single day I make time to improve my skills as a professional outside of my day to day job. I set time aside to do some technical training and certifications, attend networking events, volunteer for women in technology related events, read articles on technologies, participate in competitions, attend and organise conferences, and mentor others. My biggest piece of advice is to always dedicate some time to career development, even if it’s just twenty minutes a day, reading some articles, having a little chat with someone working on other technologies you don’t know. Do not fall under the routine of just doing what your role requires. My role is benefiting tremendously from my involvement in so many activities, as my mind is always trained to think differently thanks to the variety of inputs I am constantly exposed to.
What do you see as key characteristics of the workforce of the future in financial services and technology?
Perseverance, versatility and sense of curiosity are going to drive the workforce into long-lasting success. Let’s say in your current role you need answers from other team members to complete your task, you need to seek approval from someone, you are proposing a new initiative, perseverance is what will make you get things done. You need to keep looking for those answers, and have self-discipline to progress even if there are many steps to complete, even if they tell you it will take lots of time. Not enough time is not an excuse to give up. Versatility of skills makes the workforce capable of adapting to different situations. You never know what can happen in the project, in your team, in the future in general. We need a workforce that can adapt to change because they have developed skills that expand outside of the job specification. Sense of curiosity is the fuel for the workforce’s energy and inner drive. When you’re presented with a new scenario, ask why, understand the root cause of the problem and ask why again and again. Investigate how things are working in your role and beyond.
Tell us about key milestones and achievements that have taken place across your career journey?
I wouldn’t have been where I am today if it wasn’t for the drive of taking immediate actions when things are not working. My first step into my career in technology took place when I realised that after finishing my first year of Economics and Business degree, I wanted to get involved in a more technical subject. I took action and studied what was covered in the first year of a Computing Science degree at Glasgow University over the summer and entered directly into the second year of the Computing Science degree. My decision of going into technology was by chance, at that time I was attending professional events where I met lots of people studying or working in tech. I got inspired by the variety of work technology has an impact on, and I wanted to be at the forefront of this change. When I started my role after graduation, I got involved in big data, the cloud, devops, and a big milestone for me was when from being the person that just started and was asking questions to others, the rest of the team started to ask me questions as I was exploring new technologies that the team needed to use. I am part of the women in technology committee at work and I organise and deliver events and workshops aimed at attracting and developing talent. Aside from work, I gave a technology talk in the Glasgow Tech Meetup last Autumn, I was then asked to give the talk the following week at the Google devfest 2022, and then I was asked to become part of GDG Glasgow and Women Techmakers.
I am now organising a technology conference having all women speakers for International Womens’ Day, which is delivered for the first time across Scotland. Getting involved in one activity always leads to so many doors opening up, and it’s up to you to embrace these opportunities to make you achieve things you’ve never thought about before