Rachel McShane, CFO at Paysafe on women in fintech
With her hands full as a CFO and mother-of-two, Rachel McShane, Digital Wallets, Paysafe, talks flexible working, and why fintech has become her career passion
Who was your childhood hero and why?
Growing up, the first time I saw a strong female character in a world dominated by my brothers’ He-man and Star Wars’ characters was She-Ra – a trailblazer in her own right, paving her own path without any dependency on her male counterparts… in hindsight, she may not have been the ideal feminist superhero, but she was a smart, independent and strong character in a galaxy brimming with male leads, which stood out for me.
What's the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don’t sweat the small stuff (or, in the wise words of Elsa from Frozen, ‘Let it go…’). Life’s too short! Oh and ‘Delegate, delegate, delegate’… you know who you are!
What was the last book you read - and how long ago did you read it?
The last was ‘What we’ll build’ by Oliver Jeffers… but before you dive into your local bookshop, it’s a children’s book! The luxury of sitting down to read a novel has been somewhat thwarted by having two under 3... However, the last adult book I read (and will never forget) was ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara – a life-affirming, empowering, heart-breaking story following friendships through adversity. So good, we subconsciously named our second child after its protagonist, Jude.
Name one piece of technology you couldn’t live without and tell us why
Does a Toastie maker count? (Triple cheese for me).
Who do you look up to in terms of leadership and mentorship?
My life, and career, has been sprinkled with some amazing, inspirational women. One common theme amongst all of them is authenticity ‒ they are the same person at home as they are in the boardroom, perhaps with an ironed shirt, but otherwise the same! Their core values transcend both, which in turn builds confidence and trust in their teams, stakeholders and customers. This is something I have tried hard to emulate throughout my career
What’s the biggest challenge/advantage you’ve encountered to date in terms of being a woman in the fintech industry?
One of the most refreshing things at Paysafe is being sat around a truly diverse leadership table. At my first Digital Wallets leadership offsite, I looked around the room and was struck that, as a woman, I was for once in the majority. Having two children in quick succession (following years of juggling fertility treatment to get there) at a pivotal point in my career was tough.
Finding the right balance and managing the guilt of not doing my best at both was a constant battle. With time, I’ve found my rhythm but, as an industry, if we want to develop and retain female talent, we need to get better at enabling a work-life balance that allows you to be a parent and have a seat at the table. If the pandemic has taught us one thing about flexible working, it is that it can be more productive and by no means are you doing any less of the job ‒ if anything you are doing more.
Which activity are you most looking forward to doing when normality resumes?
As one of five kids, my memories of growing up are filled with rooms full of people, chaos and laughter – the last few years were far too quiet for my liking! I’m looking forward to chaotic reunions as well as experiencing more of the world and all the rich culture it has to offer with family and friends.
Is there a personal achievement from the past 12 months of which you are particularly proud?
My second child was born in the first lockdown of the pandemic. Going through the majority of the labour whilst my husband sat on the curb outside the hospital in the rain was fairly bleak, as well as not knowing what my newborn was facing… I am incredibly proud of how we both got through it, as well as the subsequent months together with our newborn and toddler in lockdown. In the midst of all that, I also made the decision to take the leap into Fintech following a decade in Banking, something that was not an easy decision but absolutely the right one for my career.
What inspires you in fintech today?
After a decade in Banking, moving to Paysafe has been an eye-opener in so many ways. The pace at which the business moves, the relentless customer focus with data-driven insights at the core. There is a constant thirst for leveraging the skillsets and capabilities we have to enhance and diversify our product offering. For me, this is the backbone of success in FinTech and what differentiates the industry from more traditional sectors. The direction of travel of embedded finance, in particular Wallets-as-a-Service, is really exciting ‒ paving the way for non-financial businesses to implement seamless payments through a single integration, resulting in a frictionless user journey.
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