Monica Lent – Women's day interview

Web Chapter Lead / Lead Frontend Engineer - Berlin.

Leading up to and following Women’s day on the 8th March, we’d like to take the chance to showcase some of the women who make SumUp the great company that it is.

To kick off the interviews, we met with Monica Lent, the Web Chapter Lead at SumUp. What’s a Web Chapter Lead? We are going to let Monica answer that in her own words:

“My official job title is ‘Lead Front-end Engineer’, I would suggest you guys use that instead because no one knows what a web chapter lead is! But to describe my job in writing, I would put it like this: I'm responsible for both the technical and the people side of delivering a great experience on our web platform. That means working on the tech strategy for the web and supporting a holistic strategy across the whole engineering team, but also taking care that engineers working on the web have challenging problems to solve and opportunities to grow.”

We hope that’s a bit clearer!

The FinTech industry is not famous for being an attractive field of work for women. What made you choose to work at SumUp?

“Well, first off I didn't know anything about FinTech before joining SumUp. I was just applying for tech jobs around Germany and had no idea what I was getting into! But I can tell you why I've stayed at SumUp over the last four years: things are always changing. I love feeling like I get to do a different job every six months, and the longer I stay, the more I realize I have still to learn.”

Is it a challenge for you to work in engineering? What are your experiences?

“As a woman, in particular, one of the biggest challenges is that you often have to overcome some people's pre-existing ideas of what you know and what you are capable of. Even well-meaning people don't realize they enter a conversation with you at a different level of expectation than they do with male developers. It takes patience and perseverance.”

“That said, I don't think this is my main challenge in my profession these days. Rather, my main challenges are more surrounding facilitating communication across an ever-growing team, as well as getting everyone to "row the boat" in the same direction. Often times the technical implementation is not the hardest part.”

If you had the possibility, what would you change for the advantage of women all over the world?

“I would grant women the ability to wear whatever they want to wear without judgement. Whether it's clothing, makeup, hairstyles, or whatever. Women should be able to present themselves the way they want without that aspect taking over the conversation. Think Hillary's pantsuits.”

If you could meet an impactful person, who would you meet and what would you talk about?

“An easy answer would be Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I'd talk to her about what it's like to be the youngest member of Congress in history, her mad twitter game, and where she bought the green blazer she's rocking these days.”

What can you recommend to every woman?

“Wear sunscreen. Every day. Even in the winter. Even if you are 22 and you think you're impervious to wrinkles. They are coming for you and they take no prisoners.”

A strength that you are proud of?

“I'm a practical and decisive person. I think this means that I'm good at being true to myself and knowing what I really want, as well being able to strike a balance between holding on to my ideals and finding practical ways to achieve them. Sometimes the path to what you want to accomplish isn't the most direct, but it gets you to the same place.”

What do you like about your leading position?

“My favourite part about being in a leading position is helping to create a community. At that point, it becomes less about me, and what I can do for them personally, but what the community can do to help and support each other. I see myself as a facilitator for the amazing capabilities that people already have inside themselves. Sometimes they just need a push or a platform or for someone to believe in them.”

In your opinion, which qualities are most important as a leader?

“Good leaders help you see how your contribution fits into the bigger picture. They help you see how your work is meaningful and to stay motivated, even when the work is less than sexy sometimes. Good leaders also push you to be a better version of yourself and to think bigger than yourself, perhaps in ways, you don't totally understand yet.”

Thanks for sitting down with us Monica, we hope that you've inspired some women out there to explore the FinTech industry or whatever step they want to take next!

You can follow Monica on Twitter @monicalent.

We’ll be sharing a few more stories over the rest of the month, follow us on LinkedIn to find out when!

Alex Thumwood