Anna Nordén of Sovos talks 'Women in Fintech' in 2023
Anna Nordén is the Principal, Regulatory Affairs at Sovos - the UK-based fintech that was built to handle the digital future of tax. The Sovos Intelligent Compliance Cloud is the first complete solution that reduces the burden and risk of modern tax across a wide variety of transactional tax regulations. Sovos is trusted by more than half the Fortune 500, including many of the world's largest manufacturers, retailers and banks, and insurance companies. We caught up with her to find out more.
What’s your role?
As Principal, Regulatory Affairs at Sovos, I pursue government relations and other public affairs work to anticipate new regulatory trends and laws in tax digitalisation, making these laws as effective as possible for governments while still being enabled for users. Working closely with my colleagues in both Strategy and Regulatory Analysis and Design, my job is to guide legislators as new tax control reforms are rolled out across the globe.
How did you get into the fintech space?
After studying law at the universities of Lund and Gothenburg, I obtained my Swedish LL.M. Following my studies, I joined one of the largest Swedish law firms and quickly became engulfed in the long work hours and intense lifestyle of a business lawyer. It soon occurred to me that unless I tried something else soon, I risked spending the rest of my career at the same company. As a next step, I applied for a position at the District Court, which is the first step to becoming a judge. After being admitted to the Court, I declined the offer last minute and instead took some months off to travel. On a shoestring budget, I backpacked my way around the world, trying to figure out what career path I wanted to take.
Upon returning to Sweden, I began working at the Gothenburg District Court. However, it wasn't long before I was offered the chance to relocate to Vienna for a UN project at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, having been granted eight months’ leave of absence from the Court. This marked the start of my "tech" career, where my job was to examine the relationship between law and technology and how this could be used to harmonise legal digitalisation efforts across the world. For example, as part of my work on the UN Model Law on Electronic Signatures, I was required to understand the technology behind digitalisation and how it could both impact and aid the legal process.
An international environment, at the intersection of law and technology, was where I found my place. I did then return to the Court for some time, before eventually moving to Paris after being offered a permanent position with the International Chamber of Commerce in my area of interest, thereby leaving the judge career once and for all. It had become my passion and area of expertise to understand and analyse electronic signatures and their legal implications.
What has driven your career progression?
Within a year of working at the ICC, a head hunter convinced me to join an IT start-up in my focus area. I learned a lot from this start-up experience and met some great people; a few of us eventually left the project and started a company of our own, as pioneers in technology and law. This company, TrustWeaver, was later acquired by Sovos. And that’s how I made it to where I am today.
In terms of progressing my career in the space, having an open-minded attitude has been one of the most important things. When new opportunities arose, I took full advantage and jumped in feet first. As a result, I’ve now experienced working in the private sector, public sector, Nongovernmental Organisations, and the list goes on. Whilst experiencing these different areas of technology, I made sure to stop and check my compass on a regular basis to ensure that I was heading in a direction that felt right for me – even in the circumstance of not knowing what my end destination would be. One thing I was certain of from day one of my journey into the industry was that I wanted an intellectually stimulating career that allowed me to work alongside interesting people on an international scale, whilst also maintaining a good work-life balance.
What’s the biggest challenge you’re dealing with currently in your career?
Although I've always managed my time well and had understanding managers and colleagues, raising small children whilst managing a lot of work has been my biggest challenge to date. However, it has been easier for me to establish a work-life balance by working flexible hours and sometimes remotely, but nevertheless, I have often found it hard to maintain the balance.
Where do you find support in the fintech world?
In terms of resources that can be used for support, I don’t believe that women in tech require any specific or specialised type of resources that differ from men, and I personally don’t believe all that much in female networking but rather in networking generally. However, some examples of resources that have been recommended to me are edx.org, Pluralsight, and Udemy.
What advice would you give other women who want to work in fintech?
Keeping an eye on your compass is important - is it aligned with your goals? Are you happy in your current position? If you're unsatisfied with the direction you're heading in, change course. Don't be afraid to communicate your needs to your employer; work-life balance is key!
For me personally, there was no major factor that drove my success - commitment, hard work, being in the right area, and working with supportive people have been the ingredients that have made it happen.
Whilst there is plenty of advice to offer women in the industry, I think it’s important to note that there is a lot that the Fintech community can do to lift the barriers to success for women; the responsibility isn’t entirely down to women. The first step should be to promote girls' interest in learning technology from an early age if we intend to encourage more and more women to pursue careers in technology. In some cultures, this will require a shift in mentality to allowing and expecting girls to be involved in technology as well as men.
Secondly, women are generally less competitive and more risk-averse than men, which should be taken into account. It is down to these traits, combined with women typically being responsible for domestic and childcare duties, that fewer women make it as professionals in male-dominated fields. In order to reverse this trend, we must provide women with a different career structure than what is used to attract and advance men.
Overall, to better support the progression of the careers of women in Fintech, companies must encourage early learning, provide different career structures, and ensure work–life balance.