Christine Lee, BillingTree
Women are being driven from high-technology jobs by lingering male-dominated culture, and Christine Lee is calling on colleagues with high-profile positions to take responsibility for changing that.
"Isolation, male-dominated work environments, ineffective feedback and a lack of effective sponsors are factors pushing women to leave" science, engineering and technology jobs, said Lee, BillingTree's new CEO and a financial services veteran with ample experience leading teams at several organizations.
One of PaymentsSource's Most Influential Women in Payments for 2019, Lee is also president elect and a board member of the Electronic Transactions Association. She is also a board member of Wnet, a professional association for women working in payments. Lee hopes these organizations will help encourage future leadership.
There are still too few women in leadership positions, she said. This has made driving diversification in financial services a long battle, according to Lee, adding women women who start in business roles at tech-intensive industries leave for other industries at high rates — 53 percent of women, versus 31 percent of men, according to Catalyst.
"Women in influential positions need to take the steps to reverse this trend by educating their counterparts and the fintech industry as a whole," she said.
Lee's enthusiasm to meet the challenges of a dynamic industry also helps in her new job.
"I see the fintech disruption every day," said Lee, who has been CEO of BillingTree for just a few months, after a long and stellar career spanning several financial services disciplines. "There are very few industries going through the same extent of change at the moment, so playing a prominent part in shaping the evolution of the payment industry is truly a rewarding experience."
Lee comes to BillingTree, which has roughly 109 employees, as it seeks to build automation in health care payments, an industry where paper still dominates. The company will use its own experience serving business payments and invoicing, combined with an acquisition of the Internet Payment Exchange (iPayX), to build a comprehensive health care system covering debit, credit, ACH, e-check, FSA and HSA payments.
She'll also draw on her own experience, including a stint as president of North American Strategic Partnerships at Moneris, serving as a board member at SecureBuy; and leading teams at Vantiv and Bank of America.
"I often wish there were more than 24 hours in the day so I could accomplish even more, play an even greater role in the industry and lean more about my employees and their lives and families," Lee said.
The value of team is never far away, a lesson in collaboration and engagement inspired by Bill Higgins, the former owner and president of Retriever Payments in Houston, who Lee said often spent a portion of the day catching up or "just saying hello" to staff, even with a busy schedule. "He always took an active part in community fundraisers and made it clear to everyone in the company that they could be proud of their involvement," said Lee, who worked for Higgins.
It's an important lesson for Lee, who says that with disruption so rife, opportunities can be missed if everyone isn't keeping an eye on innovation and pulling in the right direction.
"It's vital for employees to have someone to set an example for them to follow," she said.