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International Women’s Day: Interview with Shruti Awasthi

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2024, Lauren Jones, our SVP Global Advisory, caught up with Shruti Awasthi, Global Open Banking & Innovation Leader.

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Shruti Awasthi tops the leaderboard when it comes to this year’s International Women’s Day theme of ‘Inspire Inclusion’. She’s had an incredible journey and some extraordinary mentors to help shape her career and enable her to get to where she is today.

Lauren caught up with Shruti to talk about the women who’ve inspired her along the way and what advice she can give to women starting their careers in technology, finance and payments.

Tell me a bit about yourself

Hello, my name is Shruti, and I’ve been on quite a journey in the banking world. I started off in South East Asia, made my way through the Middle East, and now I’m settled in North America. Along the way, I’ve worn many hats – from diving deep into digital banking to leading initiatives on cards and payments, all while keeping a strong focus on putting customers at the heart of everything we do.

But it’s not just about the numbers for me. I’m deeply passionate about making a difference, especially when it comes to issues close to my heart like women’s empowerment and financial literacy. In my current organisation, I co-lead our International Professionals Network, where we’ve built a community of over 3,000 members and counting. Plus, I’m all about supporting my fellow women in the workplace – whether it’s through mentorship programs or advocating for equal pay and opportunities.

Outside of the office, you’ll find me busy with a bunch of other projects too. I’m a youth mentor, a co-founder of a Facebook community called Women in Workforce, and I’ve even dipped my toes into the world of podcasting with the recent launch of my podcast called ‘The Sunkissed Souls’. The podcast is about exploring life’s wisdom, the beauty of travel, and the journey of identities and immigration.

So yes, that’s a bit about me – always on the move, passionate about making a difference, and constantly seeking out new adventures and opportunities to connect with others.

What is your proudest achievement while working in open banking?

On my journey with open banking, I’ve been privileged to lead initiatives that truly make a difference for both customers and organisations. In India, I pioneered financial inclusion using Aadhaar-based payments, reaching even the most remote areas. This wasn’t just about transactions; it was about empowering people with access to banking services they never had before.

Similarly, in Dubai, I led the launch of seamless account opening by integrating open banking APIs with Emirates ID. This wasn’t just about efficiency; it was about creating a smoother, more convenient experience for our clients.

Most recently, I am extremely privileged to lead open banking launch efforts in Canada by working very closely with the Government, the Department of Finance and other financial institutions in charting a plan and roadmap for making open banking a reality for our Canadian consumers.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been part of these projects that have touched lives and improved accessibility to essential services. It’s humbling to see how these efforts have not only benefited our customers but also sparked growth and innovation within the organisations I’ve had the privilege to work with.

How do you influence your colleagues and wider business?

Influencing colleagues and the wider business requires a blend of skills and approaches that encompass soft skills, data-driven decision-making, calculated risk-taking, and a focus on creating meaningful impact.

First and foremost, I prioritise the cultivation of soft skills such as effective communication, empathy, and collaboration. By fostering strong relationships built on trust and mutual respect, ideas can be freely exchanged, and diverse perspectives are valued. 

By harnessing the power of data analytics and insights, I ensure that our actions are informed by evidence and aligned with our overarching objectives. This not only enhances the credibility of our proposals but also increases our chances of success by mitigating risks and maximising opportunities.

Taking measured risks is also a crucial aspect of driving innovation and growth. While conducting a culture of experimentation and learning, I emphasise the importance of thoughtful risk assessment and mitigation strategies. 

Ultimately, the true measure of influence lies in the ability to create tangible and lasting impact. Prioritising initiatives that have the potential to deliver meaningful outcomes for our customers, our organisation, and society as a whole. Whether it’s improving operational efficiency, enhancing customer experiences, or driving strategic growth, I am driven by a deep-rooted commitment to making a positive difference in the world around us.

By integrating soft skills, data-driven decision-making, calculated risk-taking, and a focus on impact, I strive to not only influence my colleagues and the wider business but also to drive positive change that leaves a lasting legacy of success and innovation.

What does this year’s IWD theme of ‘Inspire Inclusion’ mean to you?

“Inspire Inclusion” serves as a poignant reminder of the work I’m deeply involved in, both personally and professionally. Through my various side projects and initiatives aimed at empowering women, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative power of inclusion.

Professionally, as a leader in the banking industry, I actively champion diversity and inclusion within my organisation. Through initiatives like the Women in Payments global mentorship program and Ascend Canada mentorship programs, I mentor emerging women leaders alongside advocating for policies and practices that promote gender equality and create pathways for women to advance in their careers.

“Inspire Inclusion” resonates deeply with me, especially as I embark on initiatives such as my podcast, “The Sunkissed Souls.” Throughout the month of March, I’m thrilled to be featuring brilliant women on the podcast, sharing their stories and insights to help inspire inclusion.

Can you tell us more about the importance of understanding female immigration experiences?

I’m thrilled to answer this one as it is very close to my heart. Understanding female immigration experiences is crucial for several reasons, especially in today’s globalised world where migration is increasingly common. Here’s why it’s so important:

  • Intersectionality: Female immigration experiences intersect with multiple aspects of identity, including gender, nationality, race, ethnicity, class, and more. By understanding these complex intersections, we gain insights into the unique challenges and opportunities faced by immigrant women in different contexts.
  • Empowerment and resilience: Immigrant women often demonstrate remarkable resilience and resourcefulness in navigating unfamiliar environments and overcoming obstacles. By highlighting their stories, we not only celebrate their achievements but also inspire others facing similar challenges.
  • Representation and visibility: Immigrant women’s voices are often marginalised or overlooked in mainstream narratives about immigration. By amplifying their stories, we ensure that their experiences are heard, valued, and validated, thus contributing to greater representation and visibility.
  • Policy and advocacy: Understanding female immigration experiences can inform more inclusive and effective policies and programs that address the specific needs and realities of immigrant women. This includes issues such as access to healthcare, education, employment, legal rights, and social support systems.
  • Cultural exchange and understanding: Immigrant women bring diverse perspectives, cultures, and traditions to their new communities, enriching the social fabric and fostering greater cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

Overall, understanding female immigration experiences is essential for promoting gender equality, social inclusion, and global solidarity. It’s about recognising the inherent dignity and worth of all individuals, regardless of their immigration status or background, and creating a world where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and contribute to society.

What are the best ways large organisations work to advance women’s rights?

With their substantial workforce, large organisations have the potential to make a significant impact on a global scale. Some of the best practices that I’ve seen comprise:

  • Leadership commitment: Companies like Unilever have demonstrated strong leadership commitment to gender equality. Unilever’s CEO, Alan Jope, has pledged to achieve gender balance throughout the organisation’s management teams by 2025, signalling a top-down commitment to gender diversity and inclusion.
  • Diverse representation: Companies like IBM have implemented initiatives to increase the representation of women in leadership roles. IBM’s Women in Technology program provides mentorship, training, and career development opportunities to women, helping to address the gender gap in the tech industry.
  • Equal pay and benefits: Salesforce is known for its commitment to pay equity. The company conducts regular pay audits to identify and address any gender pay gaps, ensuring that all employees are fairly compensated for their work regardless of gender.
  • Employee resource groups (ERGs): Microsoft’s Women at Microsoft (WAM) ERG provides a supportive network for women within the company. WAM offers networking events, leadership development programs, and mentorship opportunities to help women advance in their careers at Microsoft.
  • Community engagement and advocacy: The Coca-Cola Company has engaged in advocacy efforts to promote gender equality globally. Through initiatives like the 5by20 program, Coca-Cola empowers women entrepreneurs in developing countries by providing access to training, financial resources, and mentorship support.
Which women inspire you the most?

A mother is a child’s first love and if you’ve got a mother like mine, she’s your introduction to a live superhero.

My mom always said something that stuck with me deeply: “For generations, women have put their dreams on hold so the next generation could chase theirs. But for you, it stops here. Lead a life free of expectations and make your own way.” Her words lit a fire in me, pushing me to find my own voice and passion.

Apart from her, thinking back, two women stand out as real game-changers: Hypatia of Alexandria and Ayn Rand.

Hypatia was fearless, diving into knowledge even when it wasn’t easy. She was the first female mathematician, dating back to 4th century Egypt. She was brave to go against the norms and fought for her right to education That gets me fired up to learn and explore even today.

Then there’s Ayn Rand. Her philosophy around objectivism and ideas such as it’s okay to put yourself first, to chase after what makes you happy – that really hits home. It’s like she’s saying, “Your dreams matter, and you’re allowed to chase them.”

These ladies aren’t just historical figures to me; they’re like mentors, cheering me on from the sidelines. They remind me that I’m part of a long line of strong women, and it’s up to me to keep that spirit alive. With their inspiration pushing me forward, I’m ready to take on whatever comes my way and make my mark on the world.

How can the industry promote greater diversity to deliver greater growth and innovation?

Promoting greater diversity within the industry is not just a moral imperative; it’s also a strategic advantage that can drive growth and innovation.

Take Google, for instance. By fostering diversity in its teams, Google doesn’t just create a melting pot of backgrounds and experiences – it sparks creativity and drives groundbreaking ideas. From developing life-changing technologies to revolutionising the way we connect with the world, diversity fuels Google’s innovation engine.

And let’s not forget about Nike. By embracing diversity in its workforce, Nike doesn’t just create shoes – it crafts cultural phenomena. From collaborations with diverse artists to campaigns that celebrate inclusivity, Nike’s diverse teams bring fresh perspectives to the table, inspiring millions around the globe.

But it’s not just tech giants and fashion icons leading the charge. Even in industries like finance and healthcare, companies like Goldman Sachs and Johnson & Johnson are reaping the rewards of diversity. By assembling teams with varied backgrounds and viewpoints, these companies are driving growth, sparking innovation, and making a real difference in people’s lives.

So, how can the industry promote greater diversity to deliver greater growth and innovation? It starts with embracing diversity as a strategic imperative, not just a buzzword. From inclusive hiring practices to fostering an environment where everyone feels valued and respected, the possibilities are endless.

When we harness the power of diversity, we don’t just unlock untapped talent – we unlock the future of innovation itself. And that’s a future worth fighting for.

What advice can you give women starting their career in tech, finance, and open banking?

Let me share some advice from my own journey:

  • Embrace the adventure: Starting out might feel like diving into the deep end, but trust me, it’s the beginning of an incredible adventure. Take inspiration from women like Sara Blakely, who founded Spanx with just $5,000 and turned it into a billion-dollar empire. Embrace every challenge as an opportunity to grow and learn.
  • Seek your squad: Surround yourself with mentors and allies who have your back. Look to women like Sheryl Sandberg, who not only shattered glass ceilings at Facebook but also advocates for gender equality in the workplace through her Lean In movement. Whether it’s joining industry networks, seeking out a mentor, or connecting with like-minded peers, having a supportive community makes all the difference.
  • Keep evolving: These industries move at lightning speed, so never stop learning. Take inspiration from women like Marissa Mayer, who went from being Google’s first female engineer to CEO of Yahoo. Stay ahead of the curve by staying up-to-date on the latest trends, taking courses to expand your skill set, and diving into new technologies.
  • Fearlessly forge ahead: Don’t let fear hold you back. Take risks, push boundaries, and challenge the status quo. Look to women like Angela Ahrendts, who transformed Burberry and Apple with her bold leadership style. Take inspiration from their courage and determination as you carve out your own path.
  • Speak your truth: Your voice matters, so don’t be afraid to use it. Take inspiration from women like Melinda Gates, who not only co-founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation but also advocates for women’s empowerment and healthcare access around the world. Whether it’s sharing your ideas, advocating for yourself, or standing up for what’s right, speak your truth with confidence and conviction.
  • Build your brand: Show the world what you’re made of by building your personal brand. Take inspiration from women like Anne Boden, founder of Starling Bank, who disrupted the banking industry with her innovative approach. Whether it’s through thought leadership, contributing to industry discussions, or showcasing your expertise online, let your unique voice shine.


Remember, you’re not just starting a career – you’re embarking on a journey to make your mark on the world. So, embrace the adventure, surround yourself with support, and never underestimate the power of your potential. The future is yours for the taking!

On behalf of the team at Konsentus I’d like to thank Shruti for sharing her inspiring journey with us.

Lauren Jones, SVP Global Advisory

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