Martin Leonard

Guest blogger, Martin Leonard, COO of Castlight Financial, on why he enjoys working on the edge of Glasgow’s foodie scene and how the city is successfully attracting fintech talent

I feel very privileged to be working in Glasgow's fintech hub. It's true I can go for a run along the Clyde at lunchtime or wander up to the Finnieston strip of eclectic restaurants and trendy bars after work. But more importantly, it's just great to feel part of a thriving community that's releasing disruptive technology onto a global stage and getting noticed.


My company, Castlight Financial is a serial disrupter as we develop and launch products into the mortgage, asset management and debt space which transform the way people are empowered to manage their finances. We work with banks and lenders, using open banking technology and the UK's most powerful categorisation engine to help people make the most of their money, right across the affordability spectrum, from those struggling with debt at one end to those with wealth to invest most effectively at the other. For people in the middle of the spectrum, we offer a number of products such as the Affordability Passport, which ensures that people only take on mortgage or credit debt that they can actually afford.


Martin Leonard


In these exciting times, as we play our part in Glasgow's flourishing fintech community, our ongoing challenge is to attract and retain talent, people who are not only brilliant developers and data scientists but people who are able to identify the business challenges that fintech solves and use fintech to create new business opportunities.


We're delighted that, despite the fact that just 17% of people working in technology across the UK are female, 23% of our employees are women. And in the even more traditionally male-dominated developer sector, 4 out of 7 in our development team are female. These are important statistics not just for Castlight, but for Glasgow too, as one of our developers pointed out to me. Hayley said: "In a lot of companies I would be the only woman on the developer team. I didn't want that." Now that we are getting the reputation at Castlight and in Glasgow of having a diverse crew of developers and data scientists, we are in a powerful position to attract the best people for the job, not just the best men for the job.


I like the way that our staff team is shot through with an entrepreneurial flair. They've travelled the world, they've done multiple degrees and worked in different industries, but they've chosen to invest their skills and their ideas in Castlight and our local fintech community. It's important we nurture this talent with an investment in ongoing professional development both within the company and through participation in the wealth of conferences and meet ups that Glasgow offers such as Women in Tech and The Scottish Business Exhibition.


But we need to think of the future too and the next generation of talent coming through.


We're particularly lucky in Glasgow to have two of our universities ranking in the top 300 of the QS World University Rankings. Both the University of Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde produce high calibre computer science graduates every year and we are regularly able to seamlessly incorporate them in key positions across our product development and data scientist teams. I am also enjoying our partnership with the University of Strathclyde which has given me guest lecturing spots on their MSc in Fintech degree course, as well as the opportunity to mentor an undergraduate intern who was using Castlight as a project.


So, as I take that run along the Clyde, or work out in the gym next to the office, its good to feel part of an innovation hub, surrounded by talented people. After all, Glasgow has a reputation for coming up with bright ideas which change the way we live. It was Glasgow talent after all that gave us the improved steam engine, antiseptic, the cash machine and PIN number, waterproofs, fridges, the TV, beta blockers, the modern police force, ultrasound, the Glasgow Coma scale for measuring the conscious state of patients and chicken tikka masala.


Big shoes to fill maybe - but we are successfully recruiting people with big feet!



Find out more about Martin by connecting with him on LinkedIn or for more information about Castlight visit the website .


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