From Unconventional to Vice President: My Journey to Success with Options

Today we are celebrating International Women’s Day, and with so much female Tech talent, we felt it was the perfect time to shine a light on some of the incredible women trailblazing their careers at Options.

International Women’s Day has grown in relevancy, significance and popularity over the last decade and particularly for those of us who work in sectors which, from the outside, are often perceived to be challenging environments for women. It often looks like an industry founded for men, run by men, making products for men.

Fintech has become a crucial sector globally, with technology disrupting traditional finance systems. However, despite the industry’s growth, women remain underrepresented in fintech leadership positions. Studies show that women only comprise 29% of the fintech workforce globally, with a smaller percentage holding executive positions.

In this blog, I share my career path and how I’ve taken an unconventional route to my current role and touch on my experiences as I’ve progressed.

Regarding my educational and career journey, ‘variety is the spice of life’ comes to mind. There are well-defined blocks of time in my journey, where I have meandered through educational institutes and career sectors, developing invaluable soft skills along the way, which I still heavily lean into daily.

Actively choosing not to follow the traditional education path in my late teens (completing an HND over A levels) caused a stir as it wasn’t the traditional path. However, it taught me independence and my love for travel, which was realized when I took the opportunity to live in Chicago for a year studying business management at Columbia College Chicago. Friends for life were made, alongside a deep love for the Windy City. Not ready to head back to Belfast, I studied for a BA in Graphic Design at Lancaster University Blackpool and worked as a print designer for a few years following graduation.

Technology and the internet made print designer stints redundant unless you leapt into digital; not realizing it, my path was impacted by disruptive technology, a sector I would become very familiar with in years to come. Not to follow the crowd, I chose to pivot into hospitality management. I spent a thoroughly enjoyable decade working with the public, thinking on my feet and striving for customer service excellence.

Feeling the itch academically and professionally, I decided to revive some grey matter and completed an MSc in Educational Multimedia at Queen’s University Belfast. Unknowingly at the time, this would open the door to the Options graduate and placement programme located in the ever-growing Belfast FinTech sector.

Options aligned with my goals regarding career progression, travel and the icing on the cake was the cultural fit. The first two years were a whirlwind; living in London, working in Mayfair, and doing stints in New York and Hong Kong.

Eight years on, I own a career I am proud of, which has been fully supported and developed by the business. I continued my drive to provide customer service excellence with several client-facing positions: Technical Account Manager, Global Team Lead of the Managed Applications Technical Account Management Team and Infosec Committee Chairperson. In each role, developing skills in client relationship management, technical expertise, and leadership have been instrumental in my growth and success.

Being appointed VP, Account Management in 2022 fulfilled a career goal I had since I joined as a graduate and is firmly my career highlight so far. I am now responsible for the Managed Applications operations, project and product development, and partner and client relationships. It provides huge satisfaction managing a global team who deliver exceptional service to our clients.

I recognize Options is unique in its focus, commitment and investment, ensuring progression and development within the organization regardless of gender. My career at Options has been incredibly rewarding. I look forward to progressing in my leadership role and expanding to mentoring other females in the company while encouraging more women to enter and thrive in the industry.

As we celebrate this day, it is essential to recognize our progress in achieving gender equality in the fintech industry and acknowledge the work that still needs to be done.

Marie-Louise Quigg

VP, Account Management