In honor of International Women’s Day 2022, we wanted to feature some of the incredible women who work at Flywire. We decided to ask them a few questions related to their accomplishments as women, progress they’ve seen on gender equality, what International Women’s Day means to them, and what it means to be a woman working at Flywire.
To follow you can find the questions and answers to a set of questions that we asked some of the women of Flywire to answer!
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
“International Women's Day is a day to celebrate all the amazing women in my life! I think of my grandmother and how she was so authentically herself and I try to bring that spirit with me every day. I feel so grateful to have so many female role models in my life.” -Samantha Mackowitz, Senior Communications and Social Media Specialist, Working from Boston, MA
“It means we have come a long way in terms of gender equality and that we need to keep fighting for that. It's a reminder of all the progress we have made and of all the women that are still suffering around the globe, just for being born.” -Maria Romero, SRE, Working from Spain
“My mother has always been incredibly supportive of my career, and I've been really fortunate to have had her, as well as close female friends in various professions, to turn to for advice, moral support and inspiration. I have also had amazing female nannies helping to take care of my kids especially when they were young. I'm fortunate to have talented, hard-working female teammates at Flywire too. I am so grateful for the global village of women that makes my everyday life possible, and on International Women's Day, I pledge to keep paying it forward by giving back in particular to communities in which women need to leave their families behind to work overseas because of challenging economic circumstances.” -Mia Watanabe, Director, Legal & Regulatory APAC, Working from Singapore
“Taking a moment to celebrate the incredible accomplishments of women everywhere, and using it as an opportunity to set our sights higher for what we can achieve!” -Sarah King, Senior Director of Communications & Brand, Working from Boston, MA
What’s your biggest accomplishment as a woman?
“I am the first woman in my family that is an immigrant, has been working in corporate America, and created my own business. Creating my business has been one of my most significant accomplishments, as I had no prior knowledge or guidance on what it takes to start something of your own.” -Elena Koutsoukos, Senior Demand Generation Specialist, Working from Boston, MA
“Persevering with many years of IVF and having my daughter in the end. ❤️” - Rita Dougan, Experience Specialist, Working from London, UK
“FaceTiming my daughter a couple of weeks into her first year at uni, and realising that I have raised a human who can survive, and indeed thrive, in the wild!” -Jen Howard, Office Administrator, Working from West Sussex, UK
“I'm really proud of the career I've built. One of my professional highlights was being part of the bell-ringing ceremony for the Flywire IPO. I'm also a mother of two young children, and one thing I've tried to do is show my children that work can give you purpose and meaning. Lately, my 3.5 year old daughter has been asking me if she can work like I do. We put a desk in her room, where she does her "work" (arts and crafts for now!) and we talk a lot about the different types of things she can do when she's older. It makes me really proud to set a positive example for her, and to show her that she can achieve anything she sets her mind to!” -Sarah King, Senior Director of Communications & Brand, Working from Boston, MA
“One of my favorite accomplishments is being a BIPOC woman in a leadership position within several roles throughout my career.” - Allie Figures, Manager, Global Experience, Working from California
What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and work?
“I have seen tremendous change since entering the workforce, mostly driven by strong mentorship, allyship among women. The most significant change I have observed is opportunity created for women in P&L leadership and in STEM through women and allies helping women be more successful in their roles. I see the imposter syndrome lessening because of this traction, we are getting to critical-mass representation at all levels which is exciting. It's all about who can sit in a given seat - and that is changing for the better.” -Pamela Jennings, Director Business Operations, Working from Connecticut
“When I was a kid, maybe 4-5 years old, I started showing interest in computers and I wanted to work in that field when I grew up. Everyone told me that it was a men's field, that I should look for another thing. Nowadays I see that same family teaching their kids all about technology so they can explore it as their future jobs despite their gender.” -Maria Romero, SRE, Working from Spain
“I've worked in and around financial services for over 20 years, and I think technology and remote work may have something to do with the fact that I am seeing more and more senior women in the workplace. I also see increasing numbers of women meaningfully returning to work after having kids or a career break. I think the pandemic has proven especially at Flywire that remote work can lead to productive, happy employees and help ensure career longevity as well.” -Mia Watanabe, Director, Legal & Regulatory APAC, Working from Singapore
We asked our FlyMates to “share a women’s empowerment moment that inspired you” and here’s what they had to say:
“My Mom is my biggest inspiration. She has dealt with so much hardship in her lifetime, yet doesn't let that hold her back. She always reminds me, ‘adversity builds character.’ She fights, yet she is kind. I have so many women in my life that are equally empowered to be independent and true to themselves due to my Mom's influence.” -Jenny Reed, Senior Manager, Learning & Development, Working from Boston, MA
“The biggest and most recent is when my 5-year-old niece told me she wanted to come to my house every afternoon to learn because she wants to work in tech as me” -Maria Romero, SRE, Working from Spain
“Simone Biles pulling herself out of the Olympics for her physical and mental wellbeing.” -Alissa Onofrio, Cash Management & Treasury Lead - Americas, Working from Boston, MA
“I remember having a conversation with my mentor Debbie Dyson who said to me 'keep raising your hand so that people know who you are' that stuck with me through good results and bad. Visible became my identity.” -Pamela Jennings, Director Business Operations, Working from Connecticut
“Kamala Harris becoming the first women Vice President ever in the United States! Such an inspiring moment to watch in 2021.” -Samantha Mackowitz, Senior Communications and Social Media Specialist, Working from Boston, MA
“Amanda Gorman's inaugural poem.” - Allie Figures, Manager, Global Experience, Working from California
What’s your International Women’s Day message?
“That we fight for our rights and our equalities.” -Mireya Casabona, Senior Reconciliation Associate, Working from Valencia, Spain
“Although International Women's Day comes around once a year, let this day be a reminder that we are worthy of being celebrated every single day. To all, be sure to honour and respect the women that have helped shape you as an individual.” -Des’ree Obi, Senior Field Marketing Manager, EMEA, Working from London, UK
“When the going gets tough, the women get going! During the war, we built tanks, ran hospitals and made meals from practically nothing. During covid we educated our kids and made sure we never ran out of loo roll. Yet still many of us doubt our abilities and question our contribution. When we work together and support each other, we can (probably quite literally) move mountains.” -Jen Howard, Office Administrator, Working from West Sussex, UK
“Women everywhere are beautiful, powerful, they birth nations and I truly believe that if all women are united, support and uplift each other is the only way we can make actual progress.” -Elena Koutsoukos, Senior Demand Generation Specialist, Working from Boston, MA
Why do you support women’s empowerment and gender equality?
“I support women's empowerment and gender equality because I am a woman of color who has been impacted by other's decisions or lack of understanding of my experiences and career struggles -- so we must advocate and stand up for one another when we have the chance to impact each other's journey positively.” -Pamela Jennings, Director Business Operations, Working from Connecticut
“I have been mentored by amazing women throughout my education and career and I'd only hope to provide the same influence on women.” - Allie Figures, Manager, Global Experience, Working from California
“I believe improved gender equality will occur as more women feel empowered to unlock their full power and potential. I am fulfilled, personally, when I feel I am supporting others to do just that.” -Jenny Reed, Senior Manager, Learning & Development, Working from Boston, MA
How will you help forge a gender equal world?
“I have started a scholarship for girls and women in the Philippines. I'm also funding a daycare and after school program in the Philippines so that, especially during the pandemic when schools are closed, working mothers can feel that their children are fed, have company and are engaged in fun and enriching activities.” -Mia Watanabe, Director, Legal & Regulatory APAC, Working from Singapore
"I will continue to speak up and advocate for women - equality, rights, and more. I am passionate about helping other women build their careers, especially in leadership roles. Additionally, I am a mom to three young boys and my husband and I try to model behavior to demonstrate equality. I.e, I work, he does the majority of the childcare management. But we're a team - no one is better or more important than the other and I want my children growing up in the world where they see a mom, who can be a loving caring mom to her children and family, and a strong but empathetic leader in the business world - and that she's accepted and succeeds because of that, not despite of it.” -Allison MacLeod, CMO, Working from Boston, MA
“By listening, supporting and uplifting the voices of women who haven't had the same experience as me. Black women and trans women need to be given more space to be heard. For far too long they've been silenced or ignored, especially in the tech space.” -Alissa Onofrio, Cash Management & Treasury Lead - Americas, Working from Boston, MA
“Take every opportunity to help ambitious people achieve their goals.” -Lindsey Glass, Senior Associate, B2B, Working from NYC
What does it mean to be a woman in your culture and country?
“Hungary is still very male oriented and the communication is often about women needing to have as many children as possible rather than concentrating on their careers.” -Rita Dougan, Experience Specialist, Working from London
“In general there isn't really a big difference, but for sure we do have that minority that still believe women should be at men's service. I don't usually have to face any discriminations but I do get looks from men when I confront one in situations where they have basically ignored my existence.” -Maria Romero, SRE, Working from Spain
“It means the same as in any country in the world for me we are equal, we have to be strong and keep moving forward as we do every day to show that we are equal to any man.” -Mireya Casabona, Senior Reconciliation Associate, Working from Valencia, Spain
“Wow. American women are blessed in that we are empowered to work and learn in relative freedom and autonomy. We must recognize that that is not the case around the world.” -Pamela Jennings, Director Business Operations, Working from Connecticut
Which international women's stories need to be heard and supported more?
“We need to be talking more about period poverty; women being held back in life because they cannot afford, or do not have access to, sanitary products or hygienic facilities, or are unable to manage their periods with dignity due to stigma or beliefs. Something that so many of us are lucky enough to take for granted is seen as a luxury item by too many others.” -Jen Howard, Office Administrator, Working from West Sussex, UK
“I'm part of the Flywire Charitable Foundation and had the opportunity to read so many inspiring essays from students all over the world. One that really struck me was from an Afghani woman who risked everything to study abroad and pursue an education. Her bravery and courage was so inspiring to me and also made me realize that we need to do so much more to support girls and women who are still marginalized in other societies.” -Sarah King, Senior Director of Communications & Brand, Working from Boston, MA
“Supporting mothers to return to work after maternity leave. In some countries the maternity leave is so short that the mothers go back (have to go back) to work still high on hormones which is often overlooked and misunderstood.” -Rita Dougan, Experience Specialist, Working from London
How do you feel empowered as a woman at Flywire?
“I feel support from senior leadership to own important work for the company.” -Pamela Jennings, Director Business Operations, Working from Connecticut
“Unnoticeably, which is a good thing. I don't even have to think about it because Flywire is such an equal workplace, it's embedded in our culture.” -Rita Dougan, Experience Specialist, Working from London
“To me, growth is one of the best ways to feel empowered. Here at Flywire I feel I can really grow without always being compared to my male mates. It makes it really easy to meet my goals and get to where I want to, professionally and personally.” -Maria Romero, SRE, Working from Spain
“I feel empowered to lead and show up as my authentic self. I do not feel I need to 'hide' my true self -- some qualities that I may have tried to bury (in fear of 'not being taken seriously') I can actually use as my 'superpower'. I'm still working on it daily.. but it is what motivates me. My advice to myself? Don't be so hard on yourself, laugh at yourself, we're all out here just trying to be good humans and people can relate to our mistakes.” -Jenny Reed, Senior Manager, Learning & Development, Working from Boston, MA
“I am part of a team and a department where I am surrounded by intelligent women and are the majority of my team members. I think having other women advocate for you and that comes from the leadership in our department is the most important thing and what makes me feel empowered.” -Elena Koutsoukos, Senior Demand Generation Specialist, Working from Boston, MA
Why did you, as a woman, decide to join Flywire?
“I was interviewed by five FlyMates, three of which were women. I'd never experienced this before and the conversations I had with each of these women - their inspiring journeys both professionally and personally I believe is the reason why I said 'Yes!' to joining Flywire. I didn't realise it at the time but this is a true reflection of how Flywire values their employees." -Des’ree Obi, Senior Field Marketing Manager, EMEA, Working from London, UK
“It was very important for me that the organization I joined had a high level of women and diversity overall, but especially in leadership and on the board.” -Mimi Kornfeld, Corp Dev & BizOps Manager, Working from Boston, MA
“The opportunity. Why have I stayed? I have learned SO much at Flywire and have never felt limited by my gender, age, or who I am. I have built my career here and I can't wait to see what Flywire supports me to accomplish next.” -Jenny Reed, Senior Manager, Learning & Development, Working from Boston, MA
“Two reasons I chose to join Flywire are: meeting so many successful women in leadership, and I was looking for work/life harmony at the next stage in my career and I was able to see evidence of that during my conversations with female leaders throughout the interview process.” - Allie Figures, Manager, Global Experience, Working from California
“I saw growth opportunities here that I knew I wasn't going to have at my last firm. Flywire doesn't care if you're young or what your gender is. If you're willing to do the work, then go for it!” -Alissa Onofrio, Cash Management & Treasury Lead - Americas, Working from Boston, MA
“Flywire's culture and values very much aligned with my own. We put our FlyMates and people first and support them in their lives beyond just who they are at work. For me, that is the ability to be a female leader and a mom and be able to be my authentic self at Flywire.” -Allison MacLeod, CMO, Working from Boston, MA
How does Flywire support women?
“Flywire managers and leaders put a focus on mentorship generally, which I think helps support women and all FlyMates more broadly. The company is also full of impressive women who are leaders in the organization and act as role models for younger women who are starting their careers.” -Mimi Kornfeld, Corp Dev & BizOps Manager, Working from Boston, MA
“Flywire supports women in leadership roles! I am lucky to be on a team led by a woman and my manager is also a woman! I feel so supported and understood. I love that Flywire empowers women to take on leadership roles.” -Samantha Mackowitz, Senior Communications and Social Media Specialist, Working from Boston, MA
“It makes us feel great, it gives us an equal opportunity for all, it helps us achieve those goals, thank you very much for that.” -Mireya Casabona, Senior Reconciliation Associate, Working from Valencia, Spain
“I am incredibly fortunate to have managers who have been nothing but supportive at Flywire, whether it is my boss giving me flexibility to work remotely and flexibly, entrusting me with responsibility for my area of coverage while providing sage guidance when needed, or my boss' boss giving me opportunities to bring ideas and proposals for areas which may have nothing to do with my immediate coverage area. It is this sort of support from male managers that help grow careers, and I feel very lucky to have this at Flywire.” -Mia Watanabe, Director, Legal & Regulatory APAC, Working from Singapore