On International Women’s Day this year, Contour is shining the spotlight on three inspiring women engineers, who work tirelessly behind the scenes to support the company’s vision to create the trade finance network of the future.
Loan Do is a QA automation engineer based in Ho Chi Minh City. She is one of the newest members of the QA team, joining Contour in August 2022, as the fintech set up its new Vietnamese office.
She discovered her passion for coding in high school and decided to major in Information Technology in university. After her studies, she embarked on a career in Quality Assurance and started her career as a QA manual engineer. Loan soon realised she couldn’t develop her coding skills in that role and decided to focus on another aspect of QA, and that took her to Contour where she is a QA automation engineer.
Loan has noticed that there are a lot of women engineers in Vietnam, especially in the QA field. She puts it down to patience and empathy for the end user, which is a necessary characteristic to be a QA. She believes this is something that comes naturally to women and as a result, there are a lot of women who have picked this field.
While also recognising that some women may be put off by the gender gap in the industry, Loan has this piece of advice to offer. “We just need to focus on our skill, our knowledge and our connection. Don’t be afraid. It may be an industry that is dominated by men, but believe in yourself.”
Ramya Raghuraman, a lead QA engineer based at Contour’s headquarters in Singapore, observed that there were many women who trained as engineers and played a critical role in the computing sector through the mid-1960s. As this trend has changed, she believes more women need to get back into the sector.
“The more women in this field, the more it empowers and inspires other women to join and feel confident,” she added.
Today, there are many online communities or forums where women who want to pursue a career in technology can gain more insights. But regardless of the field, whether it’s technology or finance, she feels women need to accept that it’s ok not to know everything.
“The ‘I don’t know’ of yesterday must be a ‘learning in progress’ today. If we remain in a mode of constant learning and have the curiosity to venture into unknown areas, the process itself will lead us to where we want to be,” said Raghuraman.
“Equity is not just about the ratio of different genders in the workplace. It is more about being empathetic and addressing the needs of everyone in terms of opportunities, benefits and rights.”
– Ramya Raghuraman
From an early age, Raghuraman’s mother and grandmother taught her the importance of financial independence. When it came time to deciding on a vocation, she picked the engineering stream as the market was lucrative. Since graduating in Computer Applications 17 years ago, she started her career as a developer for a quality consulting group and has taken on diverse roles from manufacturing to treasury and capital markets.
After a career break, she came across the role at Contour and has since never looked back.
Neha Pande also found herself at Contour in the role of a test engineer. She started out as a software engineer eight years ago, and has worked in different sectors like mobile applications, firmware, electronic meters and insurance. After a career break, she was excited by the opportunity to work at Contour and in trade finance.
The number of women working in engineering is increasing but more are needed. Pande believes that women can help meet the demand for technical skills while also closing the gender gap in the mostly male engineering industry.
“Equity is about having the same opportunity to raise one’s voice comfortably and confidently, regardless of nationality, religion, skin colour, physically disability or gender.”
– Neha Pande
She joined Contour in 2022 as the company returned to a hybrid work environment. With two young kids, the flexibility of being able to work from home some days means she can manage her time more efficiently.
“The hybrid work environment is helpful for working mothers and ensures that we can continue to pursue our careers. This flexibility can boost morale and improve our physical and mental well-being, helping us maintain the balance between home and work life. This also allows us to maximise the two days that we are in the office as collaboration is much more effective when you’re face-to-face with your co-workers,” said Pande.
Contour’s collaborative culture
One of Contour’s core values is openness, and this applies both internally and externally. It is central to consider the inclusiveness of its solution and culture. Benefits such as flexible working, remote working and great family healthcare, support Contour’s employees to maintain their healthy work-life balance.
“Organisations succeed when there is a diverse set of views that, within an open and collaborative environment, can reach a consensus and move forward together and Contour is no different,” said Aaron Seabrook, COO of Contour. “ Our company’s foundation involved bringing together different types and sizes of organisations from all around the world to work together to solve a global problem none of them could solve alone,” he noted.
This openness is reflected in Contour’s hiring processes as the company considers the new perspectives an individual can bring to the company, together with how they represent our global customer base.
“As we expand into new geographies, serving different types of organisations, our need for diversity increases and we look forward to welcoming those individuals to Contour’s growing family,” added Seabrook.
Creating a more equitable future
As workplaces and industries strive to create a more equitable future for their employees, the pandemic has been a blessing in disguise for women as there are now many more options and considerations available, like flexible working hours and hybrid work environments.
“Organisations succeed when there is a diverse set of views that, within an open and collaborative environment, can reach a consensus and move forward together and Contour is no different.”
– Aaron Seabrook
Raghuraman is especially thankful for the opportunity for returning mothers after career breaks that are being provided to women which was not the case a decade ago.
“Equity is not just about the ratio of different genders in the workplace. It is more about being empathetic and addressing the needs of everyone in terms of opportunities, benefits and rights,” she added.
For Pande, equity is having the “same opportunity to raise one’s voice comfortably and confidently, regardless of nationality, religion, skin colour, physically disability or gender. At work, everyone should have the same chance of advancement, be heard equally, and are treated equally”.
Banking on women-led SMEs
At Contour, our goal is to make trade finance more inclusive and accessible, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as access to trade finance is often challenging. Women-led SMEs have an even harder time accessing trade finance, with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimating a $1.5 trillion finance gap for women-owned businesses in emerging markets.
“We just need to focus on our skill, our knowledge and our connection. Don’t be afraid. It may be an industry that is dominated by men, but believe in yourself.”
– Loan Do
Contour’s vision is to create a better and brighter future for businesses and communities and we’re doing so by using technology to build the digital trade network of tomorrow, bringing down the cost and risk of trade finance, which will drive inclusiveness and equity in the industry.
Together, the voices and efforts of Loan, Ramya and Neha play an important role in creating a more equitable future for women around the world.