By: 12 March 2024

Strutton discusses personal coaching, Tribe Payments and diversity within the industry

Boardroom talk with Lynda Strutton, COO at Tribe Payments

Lynda Strutton, chief operating officer at Tribe Payments, is responsible for managing all aspects of the innovation-focused fintech company’s commercial, marketing, operational and product output. She has more than 10 years’ experience in the payments industry across EMEA.   

Lynda is also a strong role model, providing personal coaching to help team members realise their ambitions, and an advocate for working mothers—notably earning her promotion to C-suite at Tribe Payments while pregnant with her fourth child. 

Are there any strategies or principles that you emphasise during your personal coaching sessions? 

Tony Robbins has a good quote: “It’s not about the goal. It’s about growing to become the person who can accomplish that goal.” I think that so often in personal development or coaching sessions, people are just thinking about what job they want next rather than how they can become the person who can get that job and do the job well.   

People think it’s all about performance and results, but often it’s about making sure that others know who you are, what you do, and why you do what you do.   

Then there’s a philosophy, also by Tony Robbins, called RPM, which is a rapid planning method. People in my organisation will probably see this fall into my leadership style as well.   

Can you tell me about Tribe Payments and perhaps share some insights into the projects that it is currently working on? 

I’ve worked in the financial sector for quite some time now, but Tribe was intriguing to me.   

Tribe was founded five years ago. Prior to this, the founder owned other companies and was finding it difficult to get fast financial technology that was adaptable.   

He worked closely with a few techies and asked them to start looking into some of the challenges that he had. They managed to overcome some of these by changing the way the technology worked, and they found that they could solve some of these things internally.  

The payment technology we offer is pretty innovative because it’s built from a customer perspective, rather than from a bank perspective. This is quite different to how I’ve seen it fit together before.  

Suddenly other businesses also wanted these solutions because they were having the same problems, and Tribe was officially launched to help. We built a broad product set of payment technology solutions that jump into action from the moment you get your card, spend on that card, act as the money leaves that card and gets to the merchant, and all the things that happen in between.   

The payment technology we offer is pretty innovative because it’s built from a customer perspective, rather than from a bank perspective. This is quite different to how I’ve seen it fit together before.  

Moving on to diversity. How did your experiences at Barclaycard, Elavon, and Network International shape your commitment to championing diversity within the industry? 

Barclaycard was interesting as I was pretty young and it was the first role I had within financial services. They had strong women leadership there. Two of the top leaders at the time were females, including my CEO. I had quite a lot of mentors to look up to which gave me great foundations to build from. So, for me at the start of my career, it wasn’t abnormal to see women in senior roles. 

Then I moved to Elavon. There were still some women in leadership roles here, but the balance wasn’t as good. The company was probably less focused on it, but there were still some strong female leaders. 

When I moved to Dubai with Network International, this is what really opened my eyes to a lack of diversity in the industry and different regions. I would walk into a room with 10 or 20 men in it and I would often be the only female.   

Back in the UK now, I’ll go to conferences or dinners and events and often there is me or one other woman on the table. The balance still isn’t there, even though there are lots of women in the industry.   

Can you share some insights or success stories that have emerged from the ‘How to handle’ workshops (where women could anonymously submit negative experiences) you initiated at Network International and also the ‘Yes you can’ workshops to counter imbalances of female and black leaders? 

When I was at Network, I arranged monthly support sessions. We would pick a theme and I would invite guest speakers to come and talk about their experience.  

Some people were asked if they wanted to bring up actual situations that they’d gone through or were going through to share or get advice on. There were stories about harassment, bullying and other very difficult situations. Some just wanted to get their voice heard. Others were things people were worried about or didn’t have the confidence to act on.   

Our goal was to simply empower the ladies as well as let them bring some issues to us to deal with in a safe and secure place. I enjoyed running them, and it was great to see the value that they added to people’s lives.  

On the back of your promotion to the C-suite while pregnant and advocacy for revised HR policies, how have these policy changes impacted the company’s culture and the experiences of working mothers within Tribe Payments? 

I would say that I helped to create a policy rather than revised it. Remember Tribe is only five years old, and three years old when I joined. You can’t expect an organisation of that size to have all the policies in place. We were just a small business, so there’s nothing wrong with what Tribe was doing in the first place. But as a female in a leadership role, I felt that it was my responsibility to guide the organisation to make sure we have policies that support working parents.   

One of the things I think Tribe is particularly good at is embracing change. I didn’t have to fight to change the policy. I gave my opinions, and I made sure that I got my voice listened to. 

We know our employees are extremely dedicated. They work extremely hard for us. And we make sure that we support them in the very best way that we can.  

When I had my baby, I wanted to come back to work pretty quickly, and I worked fulltime from home for a while. I didn’t necessarily work nine to five, because that wouldn’t work for me.   

We aim to offer a good work-life balance, such as allowing mothers who want to feed while they’re on calls, off camera, or supporting either parent in going to school to pick up their child who is sick, for example. They should be able to do that if they need to.   

There will be distractions. We make sure that we’re able to facilitate that and recognise that that’s okay.   

We know our employees are extremely dedicated. They work extremely hard for us. And we make sure that we support them in the very best way that we can.  

As International Women’s Day has just passed, what message or advice would you like to share with aspiring women leaders in the fintech industry? 

I’ve heard this kind of cynical view about International Women’s Day: “Why do women get a special day?”, and I hear it fairly regularly, which is a bit disappointing. But it’s aimportant day.   

It’s not about women being better than men or trying to overtake them, it’s recognising that even after 113 years of having International Women’s Day, there is still not a balance. I still feel disparity.  

I sit at a table and people act differently sometimes when you’re there versus when you’re not. It can still be very boys club-ish. For example, you hear people say something and then apologise for it because you’re at the table. Either don’t say it or own it.  

It’s making sure you offer as many opportunities to women as the menthen its down to the women to seize those. 

We are all very aware of direct discrimination, but it is the daily unconscious biases that are harder to change. We naturally all have these, so being conscious of them is key. 

My advice to not just women but men as well, is to be very conscious of why International Women’s Day exists and think about how you can help do those one per cent things to move things forward every day. Recognise that if there is one or two women sitting at the table, they may not feel 100% comfortable. How do you help with that?  

There is a shift happening. We may never get an exact balance, but we can level the playing field a little bit.  

Women need to continue doing what they’re doing and keep paying it forward.  

Its not about selecting women over men either. It’s making sure you offer as many opportunities to women as the menthen its down to the women to seize those. 

Image: Tribe Payments 

Josh Poyser
Josh Poyser is an editor at FinTech Intel. He has written about fintech for several years and appeared at FinTech Connect 2023 on the 'Unlocking Success: The Art of Fintech PR' panel.