Women in fintech — Šárka Bartova

Šárka Bartova

1. Who are you? What are you working on?

My name is Šárka. People would probably describe me as an energetic and determined globe-trotter and usually have difficulties guessing where I come from. I grew up in a small town in the Czech Republic but lived and worked in several countries in Europe & Asia, calling Berlin my home since 2014. After several years in the startup world, I’m now with Mambu, a FinTech scale-up with an HQ in Berlin that provides a cloud-based SaaS core banking engine. I’m in charge of global strategic alliances and partnerships that help the company grow and strengthen its presence on the market.

In my free time, you will find me on a plane traveling to the next dream destination with my partner or friends, on a yoga mat, trying to find my inner peace and balance after a long day, or in a coffee shop, reading a book or jotting down my thoughts and ideas.

2. How did you get involved with fintechs?

My jump into FinTech was not really planned, I have to admit. I have been playing at the intersection of technology and consulting my entire career and have always been fascinated by the impact that tech & innovation can have on our lives. 3 years ago, I was looking for a new role and interviewed with several companies. For me back then, it wasn’t too much about the industry, but more about the product, the team, and the overall mission of the next company I would join. When I came across Mambu, I knew it’s a match. As I was going through the recruitment process with them and started learning more about FinTech/Finance in general, I was hooked. Finance is a rather traditional industry but I got really excited about the potential that various technologies can have on making it more human, more accessible and affordable. After three years in the industry, I have no regrets of making this jump!

3. Do you ever feel you have to prove yourself more because you are a woman? How do you overcome it?

Many people often ask me how it is to be a woman in FinTech/Finance, which is, let’s be honest, still an industry dominated by men. When I just moved to FinTech, I had some doubts. Will all the bankers with 30+ years of experience perceive me as an equal business partner? Is anyone going to take my opinions seriously? Will I be successful in my role representing a company with a fairly complex product? But all of these doubts went away in the first few months, after I dived deep into the sector, started understanding how things work and realized, that everything is figureoutable.

I often find myself in situations where I’m the only woman in the room, surrounded by men who are twice as old as me. Luckily, I have never been treated differently, just because I am a woman. My view is that it doesn’t matter what gender, skin color, religion or years of experience you have. What matters is your knowledge, your drive and passion for what you do, and the ability to navigate through the complexity of this space.

4. What do you consider your biggest success?

Personally: living the life I always wanted to live, being able to balance working hard while having a lot of fun and not forgetting the importance of family, friends and strong social circles. Professionally: building an extensive partnership ecosystem at Mambu with a brilliant team, some pretty smart minds in the industry, and seeing the results of all the effort I put in.

5. Who or what inspires you?

My biggest inspiration are entrepreneurs and individuals who are following their passions and building businesses that are both profitable and have a strong social impact. Be it access to finance in developing countries, waste reduction, sustainable fashion or many other areas.

6. What advice would you give to girls interested in fintechs and/or startups?

Ask yourself — what do I really want to do? What skills and expertise do I have (or want to acquire) and in what sector these could shine the most? What are the things I’m really interested in? Don’t jump into fintech or any other sector just because “it’s cool”, but instead, try to figure out for yourself which industry will be the best fit for you. And then just do it! Never ever question your own ability to be successful. Women tend to underestimate themselves and tent to have the feeling that the need to try harder than men to be successful. That’s not true at all. As long as you believe in yourself and work hard and smart, there are really no limits to becoming great at whatever you do.

For someone completely new to startups, my advice would be to find mentors that can help you make the transition smoother. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We have all started somewhere and the mentor <> mentee relationship is very much a two-way street. Both can learn a lot from each other.

7. Your guideline/personal motto

Live your life to the fullest :)

MKB Fintechlab is the CEE’s leading banking innovation lab, driving digital transformation and enhancing digital capabilities within the MKB Financial Group.