Tell me a little bit about yourself Marieke.
I am French and married to a Spanish entrepreneur who works in the MedTech industry. I’ve lived in London for the last 5 years and started my career in Asia (Shanghai / Hong Kong) in the Luxury Goods Industry (LVMH). I’m also fortunate to have worked across the world and have lived in Holland, Italy and France amongst other countries. Outside of work I love playing basketball (and any kind of sports really) and travelling.
What were you doing before you became MD of Circle Pay?
Before joining Circle, I was the Vice President of Europe, Middle East and Africa at Hotels.com (an Expedia Inc company), overseeing a $2B+ revenue business across 33 multi-lingual markets. Prior to this I was a strategy consultant at the Boston Consulting Group based in Paris and before that a Regional Financial Analyst for LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) based in Hong Kong.
Getting involved in tech is still a new thing for women, what was the motivation for you?
I've actually worked in tech for my entire career to date. In fact my tech journey started when I went to university and I was fortunate enough to secure a place at TelecomParisTech - the top French school for computer science. I've always loved mathematics, physics and all things logical. Working at a company like Circle which is at at the forefront of new technologies such as the blockchain and looks at the ways in which technology can simplify our lives is what motivates me every day.
How have you found your journey so far and what has been your greatest accomplishment?
Well, so far so good! I love seeing the way technology can transform peoples’ lives and in particular enable new behaviours - which is why I'm so passionate about Circle. Our vision is to make money work the way the internet does, leveraging things such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
The beauty of tech is that it is an industry which is constantly evolving and innovating. For example, a couple of years ago no one was talking aboutblockchain and now it's this new hip thing which will revolutionise our lives in ways we haven't seen so far (yes, even more than the internet). I am particularly very proud of the journey we've had at Circle. Less than a year ago, we had no customers in Europe and very very small teams. Today we've built a top-class team of young, motivated and ambitious talent and are seeing a tremendous growth across Europe. Our aim is to keep moving into more and more markets and get greater traction with the app and the service.
What has been the most challenging thing so far?
Well when I joined Circle, FinTech was for me a new industry so it was a steep learning curve. Technology is such a diverse sector (so much so that it can combine finance and tech!) that you are always having to master new areas. The most challenging thing so far remains building teams - in a startup you don't have the luxury of several hundreds of employees - every hire is key and will make a tremendous impact. When recruiting, we look for passion and for people who share our values and ambitions. Although it may sound cliché, we also look for team players as we are all far too busy for finger pointing when things go wrong. It’s about working together and finding solutions to problems.
Do you think more women should get involved in tech and why?
Absolutely! The world is made up of 50% women after all! At the end of the day the challenges solved by tech and the products created by tech are for everyone. The only way to shape products and technologies for all is to have a gender mix. I'd love to see more women getting involved in tech. Computer science and coding needs to be taught at a younger age. With regards to coding it was actually invented by women and historically they have made up a large proportion of its workforce. In fact in 1984; 37% of all computer science graduates were women and now that number is just 18%. Disappointingly according to figures in 2015, just 16% of Facebook’s tech staff and 18% of Google’s were female. This needs to change.
This is one of the reasons why last year Circle became a proud signatory of The Women in Finance Charter, led by the HM Treasury. As a young fast-growing FinTech company, innovation is vital but so too is our passion for people. We want the right people for the job, whatever their gender.
What advice would you give to young female entrepreneurs who are stuck on an idea?
Stop thinking and go for it! It will be challenging, but SO rewarding. When you are in a startup, the highs are very high and the lows can seem very low. But at the end of the day it is a thrilling journey, one you will remember for life. When I was thinking about joining Circle someone told me "you are hesitating now, but once you start you will never look back". It is so true.
What does it mean to be a female tech entrepreneur and what challenges do you think women face in the industry?
The tech industry is one of the several sectors in which men still dominate in the large part. This is largely due to the fact that many women are opting out of STEM fields in favour of other industries. A big challenge for women is standing up against the stereotype of the types of careers women should and should not be working in. Stereoptypes and biais are often the root cause of the issue and can cause a lot of self-doubt for women working or wanting to work in the tech sector.
For a wannabe entrepreneur any doubt will simply hold you back. You need to have an unswerving confidence in your own abilities and need a positive outlook especially during the more challenging times. My favourite say is “Optimism is a force multiplier”, remember that even if at first you don’t succeed then try again. Numerous famous startups tasted failure, but kept going and tweaking their models until things work out. Passion, resilience and optimism are key attributes.
Overview of how Circle Pay works:
Now you can split the bar tab, give your flatmate half the rent or collect cash for the group trip with just a text or email. Plus, turn pounds into dollars across the pond without fees! (This is where we might need to pinch you.)
Decide how much to send. (Think carefully. This is money, after all.)
Select a contact, or type an email or phone number (or scan a fellow Circler’s QR code).
Personalise with a heartfelt plea, hot dog emoji, a cat pic, or whatever screams ‘you’.
Exchange meaningful money messages.
How to find Circle Pay: