Working in financial innovation: a webinar by Marta Ghiglioni

On Wednesday 8th of April, WiBF presented its first Webinar “Working in financial innovation” in collaboration with Dr. Marta Ghiglioni, a very inspiring woman that told us about her working journey in fintech and gave to the audience lots of advice related to her experience.

Her passion for computers started because of her grandfather, that was the first one in her family to buy a computer and realized before most people that it was going to be the future. This experience led Marta to decide at the age of 16 to teach herself how to code and to start working as a freelancing backend developer for websites, since when she was 21.

After high school, Marta decided to study Law, as she was very interested in Information Technology and innovation law. She increased her studies with lots of work experience, her first job in this field was in a law firm about intellectual properties, and as she said that made her grow and gave her the awareness that everything is complex but there has to be a way to communicate it more easily.

Dr. Ghiglioni kept on doing interesting experiences during her university years, and in 2016 she took part in a summer internship at Singularity University, a Silicon Valley Network in which people learn how to solve problems and develop technological solutions. She also won a scholarship in which she focused on building an open-source platform to write law into code control, that experience taught her that technology was available for her and problems could be replaced by solutions.

When Marta came back to Italy, she entered to banking through LinkedIn. As she said, she didn’t look for that job, but that job chose her, as she was an active profile in LinkedIn and that made her be noticed by Unicredit. She was offered to work in corporate venture capital and that was what she did for the next two years. She said she grew a lot during her years in the bank, she especially said that she learned that people have different points of view and you don’t have to be afraid of thinking outside of the box.

On September 2018, Marta had to choose between keeping on working in a bank, with a full contract or accepting the risk, and start working for a start-up called Italia Fintech. As expected by this challenging woman, she left her comfort zone to approach the new experience. She became managing director of Italia Fintech, an association that brings together entrepreneurs from all over Italy and abroad, from different businesses, select them and bring them into a conversation with European and Italian government and authorities to contribute to the development of efficient services for people.

Marta told us that most of the Italian companies that worked in Italia Fintech were led by men, but she said she wasn’t afraid of doing that, she took that as a value, she also said that the most empowering thing is when experienced people gave her the chance of talking on their behalf. Marta underlined the importance of activities like “HeforShe”, to remember that things are changing, and you don’t have to always remind that you deserve that spot on the table and that your voice can really make a difference in the conversation.
Marta told us about two moments that changed her perspective. One was in her first meeting when people didn’t realize that she was the managing director, as they didn’t expect someone who looked like her; later she had the opportunity to talk to one of the participants, and he confessed he had realized that he was still really biased, as he would never have thought of taking into consideration a person like her for that job position before.

 

The second moment that Marta told us is about a situation in which she was supposed to speak at a meeting and one of the participants dismissed her, and her colleague took her defense and underlined that she was indeed the speaker. What Marta learned about Italia Fintech, is that it is really important to find men that stand up for women and having the responsibility to represent someone else.

Marta got married, left Italy and now lives in California with her husband since January 2020. She doesn’t know what she’ll be going to do in the next year, but she thinks that she’ll probably come back to Italy in the next 10 years, to bring her expertise in the fintech field to her home country. After her engaging testimony, Marta answered some questions and gave valuable advice on the possibility of living and doing things differently. First of all, she affirmed the need to combine the classical education offered by the academic sphere with our passions and to concentrate our energies in both of these areas.

In fact, it is this approach that allows identifying emerging needs and developing particularly creative and original businesses to satisfy these needs, which is what start-ups have as their purpose. Then she said that we need to go beyond the typical binomial of study and work, because it is vital to enrich one’s path through a whole series of different experiences, that are necessary to develop an independent point of view to be brought into the workplace, always keeping in mind that “to grow you need to change”.

Finally, she said that it is important not letting fear to stop you from doing something, and in this perspective understanding where they come from and try to overcome them, and at the same time to be surrounded by people who encourage and support you when you need it. With her own experience, Marta has shown us a very interesting path through different steps, a path that has a simple but extremely meaningful aim: to embrace the change.

Alessandra Bozzolin & Laura Vischi