When I’m in a tight spot I often think “How would a fraudster tackle this?” Given I’m the Chief Risk Officer at Visa Europe, it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Across the organisation I work with many talented and engaged people but some of the brightest and most determined people I contend with don’t work for Visa at all – they are the criminals who want to get hold of your card details. They are highly motivated, extremely agile, enlist specialist skills and are forever looking out for new opportunities.
I was recently asked to give a presentation at the Professional Women’s Network Leadership Forum, which focused on the theme of Agility, Balance and Collaboration. So I used this approach in my presentation and asked myself:
- How would a fraudster encourage and enable women to grow their careers?
- How would they advance women in leadership?
- What would they do to smash the glass ceiling?
- It’s a light hearted approach but there are some serious points to make.
Broadly speaking there are three types of criminals and all can teach us lessons about diversity and talent management.
The white-collar criminals. This is the front line and there are lots in this role.
Lesson:In the UK, women make up 57% of new recruits to white-collar jobs but only 17% of executive directors and 4% of CEOs. I don’t think women lack ambition, and we’re not all held back by family responsibilities so something is going wrong here.
They force their way up the criminal career ladder with a combination of muscle and guile, rather than talent.
Lesson: Successful career women are often accused of something similar, yet there’s no evidence to suggest that women are more disposed to use charm or pushiness any more than men are. Let’s bust that myth.
These are the ones I admire and fear in equal measure. They tend to be talented, they’ve risen to the top, and good at talent management. Good at spotting it, securing it and then nurturing it. They are prepared to be very flexible and get the job done no matter what.
Lesson:Really successful enterprises know what good talent looks like and create the conditions that allow it to deliver.
I must admit that I take an idealistic view and I think that in a company like Visa women can have it all – a career, children and a life beyond both of them.
We have a long standing motto at Visa ‘Studium and prosperandum. Voluntas in conveniendum’. This means ‘The will to succeed. The grace to compromise’. I think the same principle applies to our careers and this brings me back to the theme of the conference – Ability, Balance, Collaboration. It’s how criminals do it, so surely we can do it too – only legitimately!