“Don’t be put off by the lack of opportunities.” | IWD guest blog: Sam Shrager at BCB Group

sam shrager

To mark International Women’s Day 2022, we asked some of our female clients to answer a few questions about their working life and experiences as women in business. We’ve collated the responses for a series of blog posts.

Today, it’s the turn of Sam Shrager, Head of Marketing and Communications at BCB Group, a leading crypto business banking partner. Operating in the blockchain and crypto space, BCB provides payment and trading services for the digital asset economy. 

Check out her responses below!

As a strong female leader, have you experienced any pushbacks or barriers in your career, and how did you overcome them?

I haven’t specifically experienced pushbacks and barriers, however, it’s sometimes been a challenge, from a cultural point of view, to be heard and valued in a male-dominated workplace and industry. I am constantly seeing improvements across the board, which is encouraging, and for the younger generation of women in financial services, I’m confident that they won’t experience barriers.

How have you been received as a female leader in the industry?
The company I work in now, although we don’t have any women on the board or at c-level, I’ve seen the culture rapidly evolve as a number of women have taken more senior management positions. So much research suggests that companies with an inclusive culture are six times more likely to be innovative. By staying ahead of changes, they are twice as likely to hit or better financial targets. This means providing female mentors and role models, demonstrating trust (rather than talking about it), creating an environment that encourages collaboration, using technology to break barriers and sourcing innovation openly.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t be put off by not being listened to/ heard – keep going, things will improve!

What other female figures have inspired you in your career?

I’ve always been super inspired by Martha Lane Fox, Eileen Burbidge and Zanny Minton Beddoes

I’ve also worked with a number of amazing women in the financial services industry over the past few years. Kirin Obhi, COO at Signia, has been a huge inspiration to me in how she has pursued her career and operates in the wealth management industry.

What advice would you give to other females stepping into powerful roles in their Industries?
Don’t be put off by the lack of opportunities or obvious leadership roles – we’re seeing improvements all the time across the board, even in typically male-dominated industries like finance and tech.  

How have you found navigating your way through an emerging, mainly male-dominated industry such as crypto?

I started in the crypto and blockchain industry back in 2017, at which point it was commonplace for me to be one of the only, if not the only, woman in the room at most industry events, both small and large scale.  This has started to change, we are seeing more and more women on panels and represented across the board.  The emergence of female leaders can become a centrifugal force for good in the space.

For the first time, we’re seeing examples of female leaders emerging from across the generations to cross-weave their knowledge and drive for change. If we take the environment and climate as an example, someone as experienced and respected as Jane Goodall is standing alongside teenage activists like Greta Thunberg. Importantly, there are now ambitious and capable women running influential organisations who can activate physical change through technology and policy. The recent progress with the circular economy, crypto and blockchain is a prime example.

There’s nothing inherently masculine about blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning or crypto. However, the fintech sector remains heavily dominated by men. Organisations need to ensure there are sufficient rungs on the ladder to help women climb into management positions. We need to be open-minded enough to bring in female leaders from other industries, who don’t necessarily have a tech or fintech background.