Celebrating the women at Icon Solutions

8 March 2021

Financial and technological industries have always been male dominated, with men at the forefront of key projects and making up most of the workforce. Although things have improved over the years with more women in senior positions and receiving acknowledgements for their contributions, we still have a long way to go. A study by Deloitte found that women only make up 7% of the global fintech founder community and occupy 23% of senior positions in Fintech companies globally.

In honour of International Women’s Day, we would like to celebrate and introduce you to five incredible women contributing to our success at Icon.

Meet Laura Adams, Head of Marketing at Icon Solutions 

From an early age, Laura had an interest in IT and computer science going on to study Business Information Technology at University. During her time at Kingston, she was part of the one third representing women in her cohort. Throughout her career she has continued to find herself in male dominated workforces but never considered it a hinderance particularly in smaller-medium sized organisations where she’s predominantly spent her career. With 25+ years of experience in fintech, Laura has worked in roles ranging from systems analyst, chief of staff, co-founding a software company to leading marketing teams in America and the UK.

Laura said, “Over the last 10 years there’s been a shift in people’s views of women in the workplace, and we aren’t just accepting what is but are being proactive in supporting women to play more active roles in the industry and embracing the difference.

Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ kick started the conversation and a shift in attitude for me. Don’t be afraid to push yourself and go for the job you want and don’t feel intimidated by the ratio of men in the industry. A workforce is a better place for having diverse people.”

Meet Alison Ashley, Engagement Lead at Icon Solutions

With 20+ years of experience as a project manager and consultant, Alison has spent her career working in a range of industries, working for companies such as Microsoft, Vodafone, HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group.

Alison said, “when I first started working in IT, I rarely worked with other women, however over the years I’ve had the privilege of seeing companies and roles become more diverse.

This is in part due to initiatives and support groups that mean women do not have to ‘sacrifice’ their career when they start a family. As a result, I’ve been able to benefit from flexible working options, as well as focused development and training opportunities.

For women coming up in IT I’d say, be authentic and true to your values – don’t feel you have to act like a man to progress in this industry. It’s also worth finding a mentor who will help to empower you on your journey.”

Meet Jen Dunbar, IPF Product Owner at Icon Solutions

With 25+ years’ experience in payments, Jen has worked for some of the world’s largest financial institutions. She joined Icon as she wanted to experience working in a smaller and more agile organisation where her contributions would make an impact.

Jen said, “Working as a woman in a male dominated industry unfortunately means there have been instances where I have noticed a sort of peer pressure that stops women speaking up.  If the more senior or established women in an organisation do not speak up, then those more junior may not always have the confidence to do so either. Women can end up accepting the status quo when collectively they could challenge it.

Although I did speak up when I felt situations were unfair, I sometimes wished I had had more support from my female colleagues. Going forward I hope women have a stronger sense of allyship and can create environments where we can all feel more confident to speak up and be supported when we do so. Women in power empower women.”

Meet Louise Shorthouse, Payments Consultant at Icon Solutions

Louise started her career as a payments mainframe programmer leading to what is now a 25+ years career as a business analyst and consultant. At times, she has found herself to be the only women in the team, but feels that in comparison to some other industries, she has found the IT industry more welcoming.

Louise said, “I’m not exactly sure just what is causing less women to be attracted to IT. Icon has recently started working with a mentoring charity in schools, Future Frontiers, which would be a great opportunity to raise interest amongst young girls who may be considering business and technology as a career and I plan to become more involved in this initiative.

I believe one of the best ways to promote diversity is by being a positive role model and example to young women and girls coming after us.”

Meet Melisa Madambi, Marketing Executive at Icon Solutions

As the youngest team member at Icon, Melisa has had the opportunity of working in diverse and inclusive companies within the tech, publishing and events industries. From a young age she has always believed in mentorship and positive role models saying, “one of the contributing factors to my career aspirations are the women I’ve seen and met. From my mother, who showed me having a family and pursuing your dreams is possible, Michelle Obama, who represented women who look like me on one of the largest platforms in the world, to the women I work with here at Icon.

Although we have come a long way, I am encouraged by the recent movements and initiatives that have given women from all walks of life the opportunity to be seen and heard. Not only should we celebrate and embrace change but let us dream and aspire for more.

I hope that one day I too will be a source of inspiration for young women of colour who are hoping to work in tech, or any other male dominant industry.”

How can you get involved?

The theme for this year’s Internationals Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge which looks to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality.

This year be part of the change and let your voice be heard! Tell us what you challenge to create a better, more inclusive world and industry.

Here is how:

  • Download Icon Solutions’ #choosetochallenge asset
  • Insert your name, photo, and indicate what you challenge (for example, sexism, racism, discrimination etc.)
  • Include the hashtags #IWD2021 #IconForChange and share it on your social media

Cindy Heidebluth