Mentor: Startupbootcamp Amsterdam Fintech&Cybersecurity
Advisor for several startups
Question 1: Who is Gregory Cronie?
GC: I’m the founder of 2knowlab. What 2knowlab does can be described as business navigation in the field of Financial Supply Chain, Fintech and Online Payments. We help our clients to accelerate their business by helping them navigate through an ever changing and complex (business) world to realise their goals.
After 20+ years working mostly for banks and corporates I felt the urge to do something different and to do things ‘my way’; share my knowledge and experience in a personal and pragmatic way with (smaller) companies that are in need of that knowledge and experience to progress.
I’m a happy father of 3 and am a big sports fan. That’s both doing sports and following a lot of sports.
Question 2. What do you enjoy most about your job and what do you find most difficult?
GC: What I love about being independent and building a business around my expertise is that I can work on different topics I like and am passionate about. Usually that is difficult to combine in a single job at a larger organisation. I also enjoy the fact that I can build a business and work according to my own beliefs and ideas. What I find difficult is that for now it’s just me myself and I. This makes it more difficult to quickly implement some of the ideas I have. Also I do miss the coffee corner social interaction that usually takes place when you have multiple colleagues. Though I’m sure that will change within the next 12 months.
Question 3. As a male leader or a man working in the financial sector, do you think men and women face the same barriers in their careers or are the barriers slightly different and unique for each gender?
GC: In a way I feel everyone faces some kind of barriers in their career if they want to progress. Nobody is perfect and everyone needs to deal with things they need to improve or deal with if they want make progress in their career. I also think that regardless if you’re a man or woman you have to deal with biases other people have about you. Those biases may be different when you’re a man or woman, but I do believe we all need to deal with them.
Question 4. What is the best piece of advice given to you? Who gave you that advice?
GC: One of my former managers and mentor, this was in 2001, once said to me when had doubts if a had to apply for a certain role: “you can achieve far more than you think. You’re a smart guy and if you keep using your knowledge and common sense there is a lot you can achieve”.
For me this was a real eye opener and gave me the confidence to do the things I’ve done and am still doing.
Question 5. Who inspired/inspires (role model) you and why?
GC: My great grandmother who was born in 1902 and turned 104. She lived through so many changes in her life. Not only in her personal environment but also experiencing all the different developments society went through. From steam engine to internet and from living on a plantation in her early years to living in a big city the last 30 years of her life. Through all these years she stayed very open minded and interested in new trends and technologies. She had a very flexible mind.
Question 6. What do you think holds back women from pursuing careers in male-dominated professions?
GC: I find it difficult to call out one single reason. Based on my observations through the years I think it’s a mix of several things like existing (unconscious) biases, underestimation of own capabilities, too rigid work schedules.
Question 7. From a male leader perspective, in your opinion, what do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership especially in the financial sector?
GC: I think that especially the bigger companies in the financial sector often are shaped based on a male DNA profile. Therefore I think there isn’t enough recognition and appreciation for the qualities female leaders bring.
Question 8. What advice would you give to the next generation of both male and female leaders in financial sector? And what do you think will be the biggest challenge for the generation of men and women behind you
GC: If you want chance you need to lead by example. Don’t think in stereotypes, judge people on what they do and accomplish not on some perceived image.
I sincerely hope the new generation of leaders don’t have to deal with this topic in the way our generation has to. And if they do that it is only about repairing the skewed distribution amongst ‘old’ leaders and not amongst ‘new’ leaders.
Question 9. Mentorship? What is your opinion about it? Is it necessary? Does it make a difference? Did you have a mentor when you started your career? Do you think it would have made a difference if you did?
GC: I think mentoring is a good thing. Weather it is in a formal or informal way. I’ve had both and I really liked it. It’s good to be able to take a step back from what you’re doing on a daily basis and reflect on it with someone who is truly interested in you.
Question 10. When it comes to gender pay gap, diversity and inclusion in financial sector: are we progressing, moving backwards or stagnated? Why?
GC: I find it difficult to judge about this in a general way. Based on my own experience as a hiring manager I would say the gap is becoming smaller i.e. we are making progress.
Question 11.What is some of the advice you can share with (young) women entering a male-dominated profession such as tech or finance?
GC: Don’t be afraid, believe in yourself, dare to challenge and have a plan.
Question 12.If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
GC: Only thing I would do differently is do part of my study abroad or work abroad at the beginning of my career. In my period at PayPal I was exposed to a very international setting and cultural diverse environment which I found very refreshing. I had to travel a lot and work together with people from very diverse cultural backgrounds. I feel you can learn a lot from that as a person.