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Women driving EBRDs technology success

Women driving EBRD's technology success

 July 03, 2018

With a rare 50-50 split between male and female technology leaders, meet four of the most senior women in tech who are leading from the front at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

‘Big thinker’ Ecaterina drives global insight and innovation

‘Aut viam inveniam aut faciam’ – find a way or make one. This was Hannibal’s response to one of his generals when he was told he couldn't cross the Alps by elephant. And it’s a motto that drives Ecaterina Harling in her role at the EBRD. “I believe that in life there is always a way, some harder than others,” says Ecaterina.

Ecaterina is an Associate Director for insight and innovation - an impressive role in which she is a trusted adviser for business stakeholders and supports them to articulate strategy, identify business and technology capabilities, and find solutions to technical challenges. A self-described ‘big thinker’, Ecaterina loves to find new ways of doing things.

“We’re embracing Agile working and this is generating a lot of excitement around the business, as stakeholders can see their thoughts and ideas come to life. The biggest challenge is delivering a high volume of change. Luckily, we are adopting a ‘One Team’ mentality and aligning with our Tech 2020 strategy.”

Driven by a strong sense of purpose

Ecaterina has always wanted to work in an international environment with a strong sense of purpose, reflected by her studies in modern languages and her executive MBA. “Along the way, I have worked for the UN, a large consultancy and a small software house,” explains Ecaterina. “My previous experience of working with public sector organisations and banks, alongside the ability to speak some of the languages of EBRD countries of operations, enabled me to have an ‘easy landing’ within the EBRD. Even though it wasn’t a linear career pathway, I feel that the different experiences I’ve had make me better at what I do now.”

Effective teams deliver better than an individual

“A team can act as a force multiplier. I will always stand by a team that I lead or collaborate with. Therefore, I always aim to tune into the needs of my team, treating everyone as equals. I find that effective teams deliver better than any one individual. Harnessing the know-how of a team can really accelerate the business performance of a department or an organisation, as well as give me opportunities to learn.”

Great female leaders across the bank

Ecaterina is inspired by the great female leaders at the EBRD, be it in strategy, general counsel or closer to home in IT. The Bank’s IT leadership team has a great 50-50 split of male and female and there are lots of women working across the IT department as a whole. “The EBRD is truly diverse,” comments Ecaterina.

“The EBRD is great at getting its women together – within IT we meet regularly both formally and informally. There is plenty of training available, including specific training and events for women in IT. The EBRD is also amazing when it comes to work-life balance. We have a parents’ network and great flexible working arrangements,” she adds.

The EBRD’s relentless focus on transition impact and additionality is a great source of inspiration for Ecaterina. “The Bank’s focus lies on the impact it delivers to the society. Our teams go above and beyond to deliver incredible projects, but often it involves collaboration from multiple teams. I was born in Moldova, one of the EBRD’s countries of operations and have seen first-hand the impact the Bank’s work has, from rebuilding airports to better roads and hospital delivery suites. At scale, the EBRD’s transition impact has affected countries as well as entire regions.”

Tech leader Gráinne balances the worlds of banking and IT

Director of commercial and vendor management, Gráinne Hennessy was recently hired to tackle the huge challenge of establishing the commercial function within IT and demonstrating value while building a new team. “My role is to ensure that the Bank gets the best value for its IT spend,” she explains. “I’m also a member of the senior leadership team that ensures our Tech2020 programme transformation happens as smoothly and efficiently as possible.”

Gráinne straddles the exciting worlds of banking and IT and is inspired by the knowledge that she is helping countries build their economies and make positive changes for their citizens.

“IT, on the other hand, is an industry in constant change. Technologies which seemed like wild ideas a few years ago are now becoming commonplace. It is great to be involved in such transformative change,” says Gráinne.

From marine radio to commercial management

“My career started a long time ago and I would say the last 15 years have followed a quite logical path,” explains Gráinne. “In the earlier years of my career, I jumped around a little trying to find what I enjoyed. I started as a marine radio officer and telecommunications technician but didn’t really enjoy the work. I moved jobs a bit until I found a role that really suited me, which happened to be a more commercially-focused role, hence the move into commercial management.”

A gender-balanced senior leadership team

Although Gráinne is new to her role at EBRD, she finds the team to be really warm and friendly, “making my move significantly less stressful than it would otherwise have been.” Gráinne has also been very pleasantly surprised to find herself on a completely gender-balanced senior leadership team in IT. “I think that says a huge amount about the organisation and specifically the IT leadership,” she says.

Staying ahead in a man’s world

A theatre and art lover who immediately became a member of the Tate galleries on moving to London, Gráinne was named after a famous Irish female lord from the 16th century, Gráinne Ní Mháille. “She inherited her father’s lordship, despite having a brother, because she was the most capable. I have done my best to live up to my namesake and prove my ability to stay ahead in a man’s world!”

The oil that keeps IT running smoothly

Charlotte Adlam is making waves in her role as Associate Director in the IT performance, budget and portfolio management office. She loves the constant change and evolution at the Bank which means she is always learning on a personal level.

Charlotte leads a team to oversee IT initiatives ensuring governance, appropriate resourcing (people and costs) and performance monitoring. “I often describe us as the oil that keeps IT running smoothly,” she explains. “It’s a very central capability to the department, albeit a non-technical one, and we are involved in many decisions, either through the data we produce or our knowledge of the people and their skills.”

For Charlotte, working in a function like IT, particularly on the project governance side, means constantly sharing information and finding ways to adapt. She thrives on the central nature of the team and also really enjoys working with numbers. “The financial and data requirements allow me to stretch that side of my brain,” says Charlotte.

Inspired by strong and successful women

After completing her degree in American studies, Charlotte joined a pharmaceutical company and it wasn’t long before she was asked to provide administrative support for a project. “At that point, I had no idea what a project even was,” says Charlotte. “But once I moved into it I not only felt I was part of something exciting with a very focused goal, I was also inspired by a number of strong and successful women on the team. I looked at them and thought ‘I can do that’ and from then on I continued to find new roles in project management.”

Charlotte then moved across industries which, in her words, was “a fabulous learning curve”.

“Working in IT in financial services, for example, is very different from IT at a steel manufacturer,” explains Charlotte. “I learned much more on the people side through this and also got to flex my (limited!) technical skills. Companies that have tight budgets for technology can actually work to your advantage as you quickly learn to fill gaps if you want to deliver and be seen as credible.”

Brilliant work culture at the EBRD

The EBRD is known for its strong, diverse and inclusive culture, with lots of support for the career advancement of women into senior roles. “The diversity of cultures is brilliant,” says Charlotte. “I’ve worked for global companies before but the EBRD is truly diverse in that sense. There’s also a wonderful sense of family at the EBRD. Many people have been at the Bank since its creation which gives working here a really personal touch. Also, the Bank’s mission is a continual source of inspiration and provides a sense of purpose.”

There are many initiatives and groups to help promote and develop women at the EBRD and Charlotte has had lots of opportunities to learn from them. “The IT leadership team now has many women acting as brilliant role models which feels really refreshing and makes it a more lively and supportive place to work. There is a flexible working model allowing remote working and I feel very supported in working full time whilst juggling family life.”

Keeping the Bank running productively

Director of infrastructure and operations, Navjot Wyld ensures that all IT services are available to the EBRD user base. Her team makes sure the network is up, IT services are running and when things go wrong, they fix them. Navjot is responsible for making sure all parts of the business can work productively.

Navjot finds the pace of change of the technology sector incredibly exciting. “What we can do with technology is fascinating,” she comments. “Think of the iPhone and the fact it is your camera, your diary, your Rolodex (I’m showing my age there!), the internet, your email, your social media, your baby monitor and many more things. Also, the impact technology has had on business models is very dramatic. Established markets are being disrupted by small niche players such as AirBnB or Uber just a few years ago.”

An impressive career in IT

Navjot graduated with a degree in IT and has built her career based on her technical knowledge. She has run large-scale change programmes, been accountable for architecture as well as managed operations. She has worked across multiple industries in the United States of America and Asia over the past 20 years.

“One of the great things about technology is that there are multiple accessible career paths,” explains Navjot. “These are technical as well as non-technical and business-facing. I prefer a combination of the two and my current role positions me well for my future. Options open to me include strategic consulting, the traditional CIO/CTO route and contracting to deliver strategic change projects.”

The EBRD’s workforce truly represents its client base

For Navjot, one of the most impressive things about the EBRD is the fact that its workforce is a true representation of the countries they help and that she feels completed supported in her role.

“I had the opportunity of co-hosting a women’s networking event for IT here at the EBRD shortly after I joined which made me feel part of a well-informed and supportive community. I was fortunate enough to be a Diversity Champion at my last organisation and I welcome the Bank-wide initiatives underway. I’m also keen to advocate that a number of the challenges faced by women are faced by others in the Bank as well. A great example of this is requiring flexibility for childcare. This is traditionally regarded as something women require but I would argue it’s something all parents need, irrespective of gender.”

A career with a diverse and global organisation

EBRD women jobs technology

As an impressive global employer, the EBRD is renowned for encouraging women to progress in their careers and chosen ventures, offering exceptional career opportunities. Roles in tech with the Bank can be demanding but also very rewarding, challenging and fun. Find your next career move with this progressive employer that is on a mission to make the world a better place.

Search and apply for roles in tech and across a multitude of interesting disciplines at the EBRD today.


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