Maaike Steinebach, General Manager for Visa Hong Kong & Macau, shares with WiFA her experience with supporting female talent, how she promotes diversity and gender equality, what gives her hope every day, and much more.
Tell us about your background and the journey to your current position and organization.
I started my 20+ year career in banking, working in trade and commodity finance, as well as institutional, commercial and private banking in Europe, Asia and for the last 12 years in Greater China. I joined Visa three years ago as the General Manager for Hong Kong & Macau. I have lived in Asia for over 16 years. I started taking notice how well my career had progressed at age 40 as I reflected on my great mentors and support network and decided it was time to start giving back to those less fortunate women. From what I have observed, diversity and inclusion in the workplace has evolved enormously. I am personally involved with the Chief Executive Women Network, a network of female CEOs in financial services in Hong Kong that support and advocate for more female participation in financial services.
The financial service industry as a whole has seen massive improvement over the years but there is still room for improvement, mainly in the participation of women in the (fin)tech space. As one of the founders of the HK Fintech Association, this is one of the areas I am very passionate about. At Visa we run several programs to support female founders and entrepreneurs.
Please provide an example where you have promoted/supported female talent.
At Visa we support women at workplace in a variety of programs. The lack of ability to work flexibly has been a barrier for women who try to progress in the workplace, and a barrier for organizations to retain women in leadership roles. In my team in Hong Kong >50% of leadership are women. We have many programs in place to support our employees at different life stages. For instance, we have a “Ready to Return” program, where Visa provides opportunities for those who want to return to the workforce after an extended time away, addressing family needs. Working flex is also a competitive advantage enabling us to retain female talents. It is equally important for us as women leaders to empower Hong Kong’s next generation – young female students in pursuing stem education and tech subjects. As a member of the Women’s Foundation, I am incredibly supportive of our work in driving STEM-related initiatives and build female STEM talent which is imperative as technology continues to revolutionize the world now and in the future.
How do you promote diversity and gender equality in your own life and workplace?
Diversity and inclusion are a part of Visa’s DNA. Our approach to diversity and inclusion involves three key areas of focus:
- People first: Our goal at Visa is to attract, develop and retain a workforce that is reflective of the business and communities we support.
- Environment is key: We focus on fostering an inclusive organisational environment that celebrates differences and encourages unique perspectives. In addition, we’re committed to bringing these core values to the community — we believe inclusive economies uplift everyone, everywhere.
- Leaders can make a difference: We are promoting cultural agility among all Visa leaders to maximise workforce engagement and ensure a more robust talent pipeline and leadership alignment and engagement. Bringing together individuals that exhibit a wide range of attributes, including a rich variety of perspectives and life experiences helps uniquely shape the future of commerce in a rapidly evolving payments landscape.
I strongly believe in the need for more diversity in leadership roles. I co-founded the Women in Tech, Hong Kong and the Chief Executive Women Network to help promote female participation in the financial services industry. This is and continues to be something I am highly passionate about.
What gets you out of bed every day, either professionally or personally? What gives you hope?
Professionally, I’m excited to do the job that I do – which is to lead a wonderful team at Visa, and working with clients and partners in the payment industry to innovate and accelerate the development of digital payments in our market.
Uplift and Include are two of my favorite words, so I am happy to jump out of bed every day and execute on these two verbs in both my work and private life. I am lucky my personal purpose is aligned with Visa’s. I am hopeful that together, we can make this world a better place, starting in our own communities.