IWD2021 | A Conversation with the CCO of a Global FinTech Company

As part of our International Women’s Day program, Louise O Connell, Global Chief Customer Officer, offers some insights into her career progression and the importance of female leadership in today’s fintech industry.

At Fenergo, we are deeply committed to creating an inclusive and diverse working environment where all voices are heard. In the rapidly evolving digital workplace, Fenergo recognizes the need to be at the forefront of creating an inclusive workplace for great people who constantly deliver excellence to our clients. Technology and the Fintech industry are advancing rapidly making it an increasingly exciting area for women to work. 

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. Gender equality is not just an issue that impacts women—it affects us all.  

A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. 

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.”  – IWD.com  

There are some impressive female leaders helping to shape the future of technology for the financial services industry throughout Fenergo. As part of our International Women’s Day program, Louise O Connell, Global Chief Customer Officer, offers some insights into her career progression and the importance of female leadership in today’s fintech industry.  

Louise joined Fenergo in 2019. Louise’s background is in both technology and finance, with leadership experience in start-up and large-scale corporate asset finance, financial services, fintech, and IT organizations.  Louise was recently recognized as one of “The Top 25 Women Leaders in Software of Europe for 2021” by TSR.  

She is the global executive owner and leader of all client-facing functions including customer success, product management, regulatory and anti-money laundering (AML), and know your customer (KYC) compliance, customer support, and professional services. As Global CCO, she drives Fenergo’s customer success strategy, focused on driving a frictionless customer experience throughout the customer lifecycle, driving long-term measurable value for customers, maximizing customer retention, and growing annual recurring revenue. She ensures Fenergo’s post-implementation support and enablement of clients in becoming self-sufficient. 

Tell us about your current role at Fenergo and what lead you to your position/chosen field? 

My role is Global Chief Customer Officer for Fenergo with responsibility for all client-facing functions, including Client Success, Professional Services, and Support. I was at a crossroads in my career and wanted to move back into Tech, having spent the earlier part of my career in Tech and then almost 20 years in Financial Services. I decided to target Fintech to make the best of both worlds. 

What are your three greatest strengths that you have leveraged throughout your career? 

Resilience, emotional intelligence and curiosity. 

What is the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?  

In my previous role, I had a responsibility as COO for delivering an IT and Business Transformation program to replicate or replace all technology and systems the bank operated on as part of a sale of the business to a new owner. I chose to go completely greenfield and big bang, meaning a complete replacement of all systems and all switched over in one weekend – how often do you get this type of opportunity in your career? It was a significant risk and I do not think I slept for at least 6 months in the run-up to that Go-Live weekend, but one that paid off. To this day, it is my greatest professional achievement and I feel incredibly privileged to have been part of an amazing team of people who worked tirelessly to deliver this. 

What is one lesson you learnt the hard way? 

Always put yourself in the shoes of a customer in how you approach your products and services – always. 

What is your next goal or adventure? 

After the year that has been, getting back to normality feels like an adventure in itself. Professionally, as Fenergo expands its product suite, I am embracing the challenge of moving from a largely on-prem to cloud-native SaaS offering and all of the learnings on this journey. 

What skills and attributes do female leaders bring to create diverse leadership at management level? 

Female leaders in my experience bring inclusivity, empathy, emotional intelligence, common sense, balance, and simply a different perspective at the management level. I would encourage all aspiring female leaders out there to understand and appreciate their own value and to bring it more to the fore – never be afraid to question and challenge.  

The 2021 International Women’s Day slogan is #ChooseToChallenge, asking us as a society to challenge” and call out gender bias, discrimination, and stereotyping. Have you witnessed a diversity and inclusion problem in your sector?  

Yes, although I feel it is improving. To be more inclusive, I feel that organizations need to raise awareness and proactively support and encourage diversity at all levels, from the top down. Fenergo as an organization is very open, flexible, and genuinely embraces diversity. Having ambassadors, groups, or committees, such as the Women’s WIRE Group in Fenergo, encouraging inclusion and celebrating diversity through programs like International Women’s Day can be a great way to remind us that what makes us different makes us collectively better.  

As a female leader on Fenergo’s C-suite, I also feel a personal responsibility to support the development, coaching, and mentoring of our female staff members. Having strong role models definitely helps.