In honor of International Women’s Day 2023, we wanted to feature some of the incredible women and allies 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 at Flywire.
To follow you can find the questions and answers to multiple questions. Enjoy!
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
“Having been born and raised in Ukraine where 8th of March was and remains a big holiday, where we always had a day off from school or work, when men and women were giving flowers and presents to women - this was wonderful. It was such a festive day. Usually 7th of March (the day right before the holiday) was just a festive working day where offices were decorated with flowers and women were given flowers in the morning when arriving at the office. Then during lunch we all had some treats. The atmosphere was amazing and being a woman truly felt like something special. When I moved to the US in 2011, I was surprised that 8th of March was not celebrated here. I always thought that the US was more advanced in women's rights than Ukraine. For me, the communist origins of this day leave some kind of bitter taste in my mouth now, but I think, if reformatted, this still could be a great way to make women feel special and appreciated.” -Darya Ledesma. Manager, Payment Solutions and Growth
“Celebrating how far women have come in society.” -Anne Stephens, Web Designer, Australia
“It's a day to celebrate all the amazing women in my life, past and present!” -Samantha Mackowitz, Social Media Manager, Boston, MA
“Recognizing and continuing the legacy of those who have fought for gender equality.” -Li Ting Seah, Talent Partner, APAC, Singapore
“It's an opportunity to create awareness, championship, recognition, and acknowledgement for all the great activism of women, their contributions to historical and modern society, and to accurately account for the strides women have made and assess how much there is still to do.” -Gary Cunningham, CPO, US Remote
“Is not just a day, it's a lifetime of support- little and big - that we can see a future where all humans are treated with respect and dignity. She believed she could, so she did. Raise other women up to stand on their own confidently.” -Stacy Sullivan, Director Campus Solutions, San Diego, CA
As a woman, what are you most proud of?
“My career.” -Barbara Cousins, CIO & CISO, Boston, MA
“That I can be performing different roles. I am a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a friend, a woman who is building her professional career and volunteering to help Ukraine and Ukrainians in my spare time. Life is so interesting and there is so much to do and learn.” -Darya Ledesma. Manager, Payment Solutions and Growth
“Being a working mum - balancing work and life.” -Anne Stephens, Web Designer, Australia
“I'm proud that as a woman, we are versatile and can be quick to adapt to changes.” -Li Ting Seah, Talent Partner, APAC, Singapore
“I'm proud that women are leaning into their power, women are being intentional and outspoken, and I believe they're being heard when it comes to changing things for women in the workplace, for the better.” -Gary Cunningham, CPO, US Remote
“Raising a strong, independent and confident daughter. My 4 year old often plays "house" and she likes to play the "Mommy." In her play world, the Mommy always goes to work. It's a small gesture but I love that I'm setting an example for her that women can work both in and out of the household.” -Sarah King, Senior Director of Comms & Brand, Boston, MA
“On a daily basis I look for and support women around the world, whether it is in my job, spending choices, or support systems. I look for ways to build and financially support women.” -Stacy Sullivan, Director Campus Solutions, San Diego, CA
“Raising two children, while also building a career. Both are challenging and rewarding!” -Jenn O'Donnell, Senior Product Marketing Manager, US Remote - PA
We asked our FlyMates to “share a women’s empowerment moment that inspired you” and here’s what they had to say:
“Singapore made history by electing its first female president, which is a significant breakthrough given that the country's parliament has traditionally had more male representatives. This is a positive step forward for gender equality in Singapore, and it sends a powerful message that women can and should have a greater role in politics and leadership. I hope that this achievement will inspire more women to pursue leadership positions and help to create a more diverse and inclusive society for all.” -Li Ting Seah, Talent Partner, APAC, Singapore
“Throughout my entire career I have had only one woman as my boss and that was for a short period of time. She gave me and others one quote to live by and that was "never believe your title." Meaning no matter what level you are at in your career you should always treat everyone the same. I live by that today.” -Barbara Cousins, CIO & CISO, Boston, MA
“Seeing women in politics or becoming CEOs of large corporations is very inspirational. especially if these women are also mothers and assume many other roles. I truly admire such women - it is hard to name one because there are so many that deserve recognition.” -Darya Ledesma. Manager, Payment Solutions and Growth
“One of my boss' proved to me that you can "have it all." It is possible to be a successful business woman, a mother and also have room for other things in your life like friends and extra study.” -Anne Stephens, Web Designer, Australia
“I am inspired by working moms (and parents in general)! It amazes me that they can raise children and have a full time job. I'm so impressed and have so much gratitude for them.” -Samantha Mackowitz, Social Media Manager, Boston, USA
“It is impossible to underplay the courage of the women (and men) of Iran. Every time I hear their stories, despite understanding the challenges facing people in the country, I am still awestruck by their bravery in their fight for the freedoms that people in my country view as guaranteed and often take for granted.” -Emily Watson, Sr. Director of Global Payments, Brooklyn, USA
“All the women in the middle east sacrificing their lives in protest to improve their society and change laws to make living conditions better for women.” -Gary Cunningham, CPO, US Remote
“Today- it is unbelievable that women are getting intentional and vicious erasure from public life. Education accessibility (many causes/movements) in these countries is critical for every woman. The movements that help women get an education in whatever they are at so they can have the tools for an inspired and meaningful life.” -Stacy Sullivan, Director Campus Solutions, San Diego, CA
“When Jacinda Ardern resigned as prime minister of New Zealand, it shed light on the stress working mothers feel and showed that it's ok to admit when it's too much and take a step back to prioritize what's most important in that moment." -Jenn O'Donnell, Senior Product Marketing Manager, US Remote - PA
What’s your International Women’s Day message?
“We all need to start with ourselves if we want to make this world a better place. When women are deprived of certain rights or intentionally left out of certain opportunities - are those actions in the right direction? Everyone needs to question themselves for everything they do and constantly evaluate what our actions mean and what will be consequences. I wish that people around the world will awaken and always choose to do the right thing.” -Darya Ledesma. Manager, Payment Solutions and Growth
“The Power of One is a very real concept. I encourage women to lean into it.” -Gary Cunningham, CPO, US Remote
“Women have come a long way, but we're not done yet!” -Anne Stephens, Web Designer, Australia
“Love and embrace yourself. The only thing that can limit you is the boundaries of your own imagination.” -Li Ting Seah, Talent Partner, APAC, Singapore
“Make sure you know your value - no one will tell you what it is, so you have to define it and believe it yourself. Once you know it, do not settle for anything less than what you think you are worth.” -Emily Watson, Sr. Director of Global Payments, Brooklyn, USA
“Women are powerful and no matter where you live, we hear you and support your challenges. Have courage. You are not alone. Females unite and ignite!” -Stacy Sullivan, Director Campus Solutions, San Diego, CA
“Become a better listener to understand people's perspective and cultural differences.” -Barbara Cousins, CIO & CISO, Boston, MA
Why do you support women’s empowerment and gender equality?
“It's important that women have a voice and a seat at the table to create a just and equitable society. Being in Asia, I've seen how opportunities are automatically given to men just because of their social beliefs. It's not fair and I believe I can do my part to change this cultural norm.” -Li Ting Seah, Talent Partner, APAC, Singapore
“I am proud to co-chair the Women of Flywire ERG with Mimi Kornfeld! It's been amazing to see the community we've cultivated here at Flywire. It inspires me to do this in my personal life as well.” -Samantha Mackowitz, Social Media Manager, Boston, MA
“Because for many centuries women were deprived of the equality in rights, they assumed limited roles and were not allowed or encouraged to pursue others. The world is changing rapidly, peoples’ mindsets and world views are changing. We need to keep up with the change and be ahead of it.” -Darya Ledesma, Manager, Payment Solutions and Growth
“In a (still) male dominated world us girls have to stick together to make a difference. Can't do it alone!” -Anne Stephens, Web Designer, Australia
“I support women's empowerment and gender equality because we still have a long way to go. Even in the most progressive environments, it is not uncommon to see women passed over because they are perceived in a particular way. Until people eliminate their biases, we will continue to need champions to push for women's empowerment and gender equality.” -Emily Watson, Sr. Director of Global Payments, Brooklyn, USA
“I support gender equality because I have had to fight it my entire career. It has taken me a long time to get where I am and it really should have happened earlier in my career.” -Barbara Cousins, CIO & CISO, Boston, MA
“It's the right thing to do, period. Ensuring equitable outcomes for all FlyMates is a top priority for me.” -Gary Cunningham, CPO, US Remote
“Since I was a girl, I always believed and felt girls and women could do anything. I hope that I can help other women feel that same confidence in their life.” -Stacy Sullivan, Director Campus Solutions, San Diego, CA
How will you help forge a gender equal world?
“Always remembering to approach things from an individual person's perspective - we all have bias that we should be aware of, and gender bias can be a big one!” -Emily Watson, Sr. Director of Global Payments, Brooklyn, USA
“By teaching not only my daughter, but also my son to respect and advocate for all genders.” -Alyssa Liberman, Sr. Field Marketing Manager, EDU, USA
“Women can be tough when needed - we are fighting for what we believe in and we are resilient. Women can handle multiple roles and be successful at them. At the same time we have a unique softness to our character that is very helpful in managing conflict and reaching balanced decisions.” -Darya Ledesma. Manager, Payment Solutions and Growth
“Help women in the workplace wherever I can. It's 2023 - women can do the same jobs as men!” -Anne Stephens, Web Designer, Australia
“By encouraging individuals to see themselves as equals; by putting themselves out there and not holding back.” -Barbara Cousins, CIO & CISO, Boston, MA
“In my role as a Talent Partner, I will speak up against discrimination. I will educate the importance of diversity and implicit biases.” -Li Ting Seah, Talent Partner, APAC, Singapore
“I'm an ally and a champion. I want to keep being informed and understanding how women around the world perceive their experiences working here and their pay/promo outcomes at Flywire.” -Gary Cunningham, CPO, US Remote
“I have always been a believer in anyone, any gender, can do anything whoever they are if they believe in themselves and others support them. One kind act of support - simply saying that they can do anything sticks with them for life subconsciously and consciously. It is the little acts that make the huge changes.” -Stacy Sullivan, Director Campus Solutions, San Diego, CA
What does it mean to be a woman in your culture and country?
“In Ukraine during my studying and working years I never experienced any discrimination or discomfort although I know it exists. It exists everywhere - no country or society is perfect. I have been lucky as in the USA I have always been fairly treated. Seeing how women are treated in countries like Iran truly breaks my heart. I consider myself lucky I am not there. I am close with the Iranian community here in Austin Texas, and Iranian women are wonderful. They have so much passion fighting for their rights and freedom. I wish them every luck.” -Darya Ledesma. Manager, Payment Solutions and Growth
“Being a woman in my culture means having the right to choose and the right to exist as I am. This country (USA) has had and is having many ups and downs over women's rights, but I at least have the chance to defend my rights and to stand up for my rights and feel that at some point they will be heard. I am proud to have an education, a job, security, the right to vote-- rights that many women still do not have around the world.” -Caroline Broms, Demand Generation Manager, Boston, MA
“I think it means your achievements are extra special. It shouldn't be that way still - but unfortunately it is. Overall I am very proud to be a woman. The saying "Girls can do anything" has been ingrained in me since I was a child.” -Anne Stephens, Web Designer, Australia
“Women in Singapore enjoy relatively high levels of gender equality in areas such as education and employment, and benefit from policies and laws that protect their rights. However, women still face challenges in areas such as political representation and the gender pay gap, and there are cultural expectations that can limit their choices and opportunities. Overall, being a woman in Singapore reflects the intersection of various social, cultural, and economic factors, and progress towards gender equality is ongoing.” -Li Ting Seah, Talent Partner, APAC, Singapore
“While the US has made great strides in women empowerment, women still are hidden from many leadership roles and pay equality. STEM jobs and tech firms have a long way to go with women empowerment. Domestic violence is also still an ugly reality that needs more attention and action. Here in the US it is hard to believe that 1 in 4 women will face domestic violence. We see it every day women dying and being forced to live in crisis centers or worse. Building up women and helping them have the confidence and self reliance they need is critical.” -Stacy Sullivan, Director Campus Solutions, San Diego, CA
Which international women's stories need to be heard and supported more?
“I've recently been trying to educate myself on what's happening to the women of Afghanistan, and how life under the Taliban has impacted them. Women and girls are being affected by multiple forms of violence and discrimination, and new laws are being put in place to further restrict their education and overall freedom. It's troubling to see women, but especially women my age, have their life so negatively impacted by this regime, and what this means for others in the future.” -Kayley Allen, Experience Manager, Boston, MA
“Women in Afghanistan are systematically being erased from public life. They are moving backwards not forward in being able to have any choice or live their lives to their fullest.” -Stacy Sullivan, Director Campus Solutions, San Diego, CA
“I think there are a lot of countries where women are held back. It would be great to see them get support to grow and expand their capabilities (education, freedom to wear whatever they want, opportunities in the workforce etc.)” -Barbara Cousins, CIO & CISO, Boston, MA
“Women in Afghanistan are again living through the worst oppression possible in what some are calling a gender apartheid. Women are not allowed to work or be educated after the age of eight, let alone the egregious acts of violence, abduction, and forced marriage conducted against them. We cannot let them be forgotten.” -Alyssa Liberman, Sr. Field Marketing Manager, EDU, USA
“Stories of overcoming adversity and trauma. Women strong enough to say "no" and get out of bad relationships, circumstances and also those smart and strong enough to break bad cycles and change their life.” -Anne Stephens, Web Designer, Australia
“I think we need more support for women who live in those countries where women's rights are largely cut. Achievements of women from those environments are truly impressive.” -Darya Ledesma. Manager, Payment Solutions and Growth
How do you feel empowered as a woman at Flywire?
“I feel that Flywire is a perfect example of an employer who not only supports equality by words but by actions too. I am truly appreciative for the opportunities that our company provides to women and all the support and collaboration it encourages. There are plenty of opportunities for women at Flywire to express themselves, participate and grow. Even this initiative is a great example that company supports its words with actions” -Darya Ledesma. Manager, Payment Solutions and Growth
“The 'women-of-flywire' slack channel is really good. I love all the posts of "girl power" and "women can do anything.” -Anne Stephens, Web Designer, Australia
“I am grateful for the company's commitment to creating a safe and inclusive environment, where I feel comfortable speaking out against discrimination and working towards a more equitable workplace. I am proud to be part of a team that actively seeks to promote diversity and provide opportunities to contribute to projects that help to achieve this goal. It is inspiring to be part of a company that values and prioritizes inclusivity for everyone.” -Li Ting Seah, Talent Partner, APAC, Singapore
“I value that at Flywire, I believe I have plenty of opportunities to deliver value and be recognized as an important member of the team. I appreciate that the company rewards people based on talent and (at least to me) does not "play favorites" based on gender. Anyone can contribute and be successful if they are willing to put in the work!” -Emily Watson, Sr. Director of Global Payments, Brooklyn, USA
“I do feel empowered at Flywire as a woman. I feel respected and supported.” -Barbara Cousins, CIO & CISO, Boston, MA
“We have a great group of women at Flywire and are making strides to support each other.” -Stacy Sullivan, Director Campus Solutions, San Diego, CA
Why did you, as a woman, decide to join Flywire?
“My co-worker from my previous job worked at Flywire (and still works) and I had only heard very good words from her about the company. I have also seen her multiple posts on LinkedIn about her participation in payment conferences, recording videos with our banking partners, growing and being promoted in her role. I saw all of this before I joined Flywire and her example was very inspirational to me and also spoke volumes about Flywire.” -Darya Ledesma. Manager, Payment Solutions and Growth
“I was an employee ofI was an employee of Cohort Go andand chose to stay because Flywire [Flywire [it]] is a great company who supports women in their careers and is absolutely understanding when "life happens.” -Anne Stephens, Web Designer, Australia
“I am grateful for the opportunity to work at Flywire, where I feel valued for my skills and abilities. I appreciate the trust and support of the management, which allows me to complete my work with the flexibility of remote work options and flexible work hours. This has helped me to achieve a balance between my commitments to my family and my job, and I am proud to be part of a company that values work-life balance and employee well-being.” -Li Ting Seah, Talent Partner, APAC, Singapore
“Joining a strong and inclusive team and having a supportive manager were big requirements of mine before joining Flywire. I'm grateful because not only is the Experience team full of great women, but my manager is an incredible role model and I feel empowered by these ladies!” -Kayley Allen, Experience Manager, Boston, MA
“I joined Flywire because of the culture and the opportunity to bring a risk-based approach to an early growing business.” -Barbara Cousins, CIO & CISO, Boston, MA
“It's the authenticity and compassion of FlyMates.” -Gary Cunningham, CPO, US Remote
“The company culture and knowing that my voice would be heard. It is so important that your company sees value in who you are not only as a professional, but also as a person, and that was the vibe I immediately got when I interviewed. Knowing that there is so much to support our career goals and to help us get there is huge as there are so many paths that women can take in their lives, and all of them are important and just as meaningful to society.” -Caroline Broms, Demand Generation Manager, Boston, MA
“A strong woman helped give me confidence to leave a secure job for a journey into the unknown possibilities at a startup (Flywire). I was a single mom trying to navigate life and wanted to make a decision on my own terms. 12 years later I am still excited to be on this journey at Flywire! Thank you Sharon!!!” -Stacy Sullivan, Director Campus Solutions, San Diego, CA
How does Flywire support women?
“In many different ways in my opinion. I am very grateful for everything our company, in particular Sam Mackowitz, Mimi Kornfeld and the People team are doing for the Women of Flywire. There are trainings, webinars, learning opportunities, coffee chats to collaborate and stay connected. We are very lucky!” -Darya Ledesma. Manager, Payment Solutions and Growth
“Career advancement, flexible hours, absolutely understanding when "life happens.” -Anne Stephens, Web Designer, Australia
“At Flywire, it's amazing that we have so many female leaders on our executive team like Allison MacLeod, Sharon Butler, and Barbara Cousins. I'm inspired by all three of them.” -Samantha Mackowitz, Social Media Manager, Boston, MA
“The remote and flexible work schedule that is embedded in Flywire's culture is invaluable. It helps me support my family and my own well-being in so many ways.” -Alyssa Liberman, Sr. Field Marketing Manager, EDU, USA
“Flywire does a good job of supporting women. We could always improve in this area along with many other companies.” -Barbara Cousins, CIO & CISO, Boston, MA
“Flywire encourages women to live out loud as their authentic selves via our FlyCompass, and Flywire proactively works to remove common workplace barriers (i.e, glass-ceilings and inequities) that have typically hindered women's advancement in the workplace. Typically Flywire does this in a number of ways, but by visibly and actively supporting the Women of Flywire community with time and resources is just one way that gives me pride.” -Gary Cunningham, CPO, US Remote
“I've been privileged to have a manager (Allison MacLeod, CMO) who continues to forge a path for women at Flywire, and to ensure women have a seat at the table. She empowers us to find our voice, be confident, and speak our mind - and is always encouraging us to find ways to share our work more publicly. Flywire also goes out of our way to foster an inclusive community for women, through our ERG subgroups, and some of the programs we run for women - our public speaking workshops was a huge success.”-Sarah King, Senior Director of Comms & Brand, Boston, MA
“Flywire gives women a voice in all aspects of work and the work life balance. From career growth and mentors at the executive level to maternity leave and more. The. Women of Flywire channel in Slack is another way that women stay connected in supporting each other.” -Stacy Sullivan, Director Campus Solutions, San Diego, CA
If you could have dinner with 2 or 3 women who've inspired you (dead or alive), who would they be and why?
“Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Oprah, Jacinda Ardern. These women have all faced adversity and persevered to overcome challenges to change the future for all women.” -Jenn O'Donnell, Senior Product Marketing Manager, US Remote - PA
“1. My sister Tanya, who lives in Ukraine. She has always been a leader in our family when I was growing up. Coming from a lower middle class family and without any meaningful network or connections, my sister was able to build an amazing career as a CFO, traveled the world, and now she owns her own business and is devoting her time to volunteer and help Ukraine to go through the horrors of the war. My sister is a shining example that a woman can do anything and achieve anything.
2. Late Queen Elizabeth. Her contribution to the world is what many generations will be forever grateful for. Strength and intelligence accompanied with grace is a rare quality and something that all women should learn from her." -Darya Ledesma. Manager, Payment Solutions and Growth
“"JK Rowling - to understand more about her journey of being an author. Michelle Obama - to understand more about what it's like to be a black woman in politics. My grandmother - to ask her how she raised 7 children in the 1950s all mostly by herself." -Anne Stephens, Web Designer, Australia
“I would have dinner with my Grandma Bruce who died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 69. She was the first person in my life to pass away and I didn't fully grasp death at the age of 15. I have so many questions I would love to ask her and have one final conversation with her. I try to live my life like she did! She is with me everyday.”-Samantha Mackowitz, Social Media Manager, Boston, MA
“If I could have dinner with anyone, I would choose my great grandmother who survived World War 2 and raised 12 children single-handedly in Singapore. Despite the challenges she faced, my great grandmother was always a positive and resilient figure in my life. I am inspired by her strength and perseverance, and I would love to learn from her experiences and understand how she was able to maintain her positive outlook on life. I believe her story can offer valuable lessons on resilience and perseverance, and I am grateful for the legacy she has left for our family.” -Li Ting Seah, Talent Partner, APAC, Singapore
“Taylor Swift- She's been my favorite artist for 10+ years, and I'd love to learn more about her music writing process and what it's like to live under such a huge social microscope. Eleanor Roosevelt: I recently read a book about Presidents and their loves, and Eleanor/FDR's story was really interesting to me! She was an incredible person on her own, as well as a First Lady, so I want to hear more about how she used her influence for good. My Maternal Grandmother: She died when I was 5, and I have so many questions that I want to ask her!” -Kayley Allen, Experience Manager, Boston, MA
“Oprah, Melanie Hobson, and my grandmother (deceased since '98).” -Gary Cunningham, CPO, US Remote
“Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice)-- she was determined to not marry just to marry, which went against so many women during that time period and she was focused on paving her way as a woman and standing up for herself. Queen Elizabeth-- she took over the monarchy with no experience and at such a young age and changed the way that people interacted with the monarchy, parliament, and even more importantly, she gained trust and love from the commonwealth.” -Caroline Broms, Demand Generation Manager, Boston, MA
“Sarah Blakely, Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelou.” -Stacy Sullivan, Director Campus Solutions, San Diego, CA