International Women’s Day 2023: time to #EmbraceEquity

Ingenico Paola Quarenghi.jpg

Paola Quarenghi

Chief Financial Officer for Italy

She looks back at her professional journey and shares her advice as a successful woman in the financial sector, an area that has historically been dominated by men.

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Could you please give us a bit of background about yourself and your role at Ingenico?

I joined Ingenico in February 2021 and I am currently the Italian Chief Financial Officer. My previous experiences were in different markets, including medical devices, and oil and gas. I started my career working  as business controller. I subsequently had the opportunity to grow and manage many other activities in Finance through transversal projects across different countries. It was a great learning opportunity for me: meeting and working with a lot of experts contributed to my training and professional growth.

The payments and finance industries are known to be predominantly male dominated. Has it been challenging to work in such an environment?

You are right: the payments sector is predominantly male, but I don't think there is any real barrier to accessing it. I believe that there will always be some sectors with a greater female and/or male attraction than others. This happens in everyday choices whether in our personal or professional life.

In my opinion, what is important is that women can now choose which sector and area they would like to work in, without any limitations. It might be challenging but it is also very stimulating to deal with something that pushes us out of our comfort zone.

What characteristics do you think can help women who are working in a predominantly male environment?

I think the main characteristics are passion and self-awareness. These are valid strengths in all contexts, but they are probably more tested when working in a predominantly male environment.

There is this wonderful saying: “To be successful, the first thing to do is fall in love with your work”. It is such a true statement. When you love what you do, you deep dive in every detail. It all starts with understanding the sector and those who work in it. In a male-dominated context, women bring added value by offering new insights and ideas that come from a different angle. We have complementary visions. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It is definitely a great asset to be proud of.

Determination is also important. Moments of difficulty and insecurity are present in all jobs. When working in an environment that is predominantly male, it is more difficult to recognise points of reference and support: in these cases, you have to try to stay clear-headed and move forward, focusing on the goal you are trying to achieve, whether it is a project, professional growth or an educational experience.

Finally, we must always remember our own unique skills, and these must never be overshadowed to try to conform to any complicated circumstances. It does not matter if you are a woman or a man. It is our individual characteristics that allow us to make a difference and provide added value!

Why do you think it is important for us to recognise International Women’s Day?

I believe that the meaning of this day is different in each country of the world. Speaking as a woman who lives and works in a country where women's rights and freedoms have been recognised, the meaning is twofold.

We cannot take for granted and we must not waste the struggles made in the past to obtain them. But, on the other hand, broadening our horizon, we have to think about what we can do to help progress gender equality all over the world. Unfortunately, it is not about who we (women) are but how we are seen. And to change this perception, I believe that we all have a key role to play in educating peers (children, friends, colleagues) about the idea of respect for every individual’s rights and skills, regardless of their gender. Each one of us has a significant contribution to make our world progress. Let’s embrace our differences and make the world a better place.

Author

Paola Quarenghi

Chief Financial Officer for Italy

Ingenico

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