Vocalink’s Ranu Sharma on Financial Leadership After the Pandemic
One of the most forward-thinking financial executives I have encountered is Ranu Sharma, head of international operations and technology finance at Vocalink, a MasterCard company In addition to the traditional financial and strategic responsibilities that this role would entail, she is also responsible in London for diversity and inclusion efforts at Mastercard.
Last year, Ranu was recognized as one of the world’s top 100 female models on Yahoo Finance’s HEROes list, and gave an extremely well-received TEDx talk on Breaking Down Stereotypes of Financial Professionals You Can (and Should) look here. Spoiler: Master the numbers, but look beyond for meaningful information.
Our paths crossed in 2020 when we were both guest speakers at a finance conference in London (it was the last event we attended before the pandemic) and we recently met her to discuss how she and Vocalink survived COVID and her vision for the company and its finance team going forward. Here are some highlights from our conversation.
She and I are from different generations, and at the risk of generalizing, my generation (the baby boomers) have been skeptical of work-from-home initiatives, while their generation (millennials) and younger ones have been more open to them. . I think the pandemic has taught us that both sides are right. Baby boomers recognize how we can work productively and safely from home, and younger generations have developed a greater appreciation for the relationships that can be formed by working close together.
Ranu agrees with this, but believes companies need to become more friendly with the WFH and other initiatives. “If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s that we can do our work from home. As a mother, I can say with all my heart that having a company that supports me, strives to take care of its employees like Mastercard does, I have been able to do a remarkable job while also home schooling and being under lockdown. “
The performance of her and her team is proof that WFH initiatives can be successful, provided they are supported by senior management and the team is committed. Ranu says this will give companies advantages in recruiting and retaining female employees. “Women are the natural caregivers in most cases. They want to work, want to build a successful career, but sometimes the lack of flexibility in the workplace lets them down ”
“We can attract more women to higher positions and into sectors where they are vastly under-represented today, if we just support the way they work and give them a chance to tell us how they want to work. What works for them will work for us in the long run. Examples she cited included daycare vouchers, flexible hours (not just homework) and on-site crèches (crèches).
Ranu has devoted considerable energy to breaking down stereotypes about how mothers struggle to excel in their careers. “I’ve proven time and time again that you can both have a passion for your career and be a great mother.”
I asked him a question that I hate to ask, since I hardly ever ask it of men. Is her husband an equal partner in raising their children? Indeed, he is, and she acknowledges that many of her successes would have been more difficult without her commitment (as would have been hers without her commitment). We can and do make a huge difference in the careers of our partners.
In addition to her work at Vocalink and on the public speaking circuit, Ranu coaches young teens with two charities, “The Working Options Group” and “The Girls Network”, and has written several articles on diversity and inclusion, and emphasizes that being a woman of color does not put a cap on how high she can climb. She also serves as a mentor to several up-and-coming professionals.
Millennials continue to take on leadership roles in the corporate world and leave their unique mark on society. Ranu is a great role model for any finance professional (of any generation) as businesses emerge from the pandemic and seek to find lasting competitive advantages in the new era. His track record of building a great team and keeping them cohesive and productive during a pandemic is one we all should aspire to.