Alison Pain is the chief technology officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). She is accountable for all technology in the region and responsible for 170 full-time technologists. When she joined the company in early 2020, she became the first female CTO at Northern Trust in what was to become an all-female CTO team across EMEA, Asia Pacific (APAC) and North America.
What unique viewpoints do you bring to your role?
I’ve worked in several different financial services organizations of various sizes. I've seen different ways of getting things done, communicating and building stakeholders. That experience helps to shake things up, make suggestions and challenge the way that we’re thinking.
What are you most proud of in your career at Northern Trust so far?
I joined in January 2020 and transitioned to working from home due to the pandemic toward the end of March. Most people I work with on a day-to-day basis are people who I’ve never met. Yet, I’ve built strong relationships. I always make time for people whether it’s one-on-ones or mentoring. I ask questions, not just about work but also their personal lives. I always offer to help—if there is an issue, I step up to offer to help resolve, facilitate or own.
I’ve got a good network across the organization, and I’m proud of it because it’s not easy to build virtually. The culture of the organization is so welcoming. People want you to be successful.
How can we continue to foster a culture of inclusion at Northern Trust?
It’s a fine balance between making sure that we're applauding people for being different and making them feel part of a team. “That’s brilliant because you’re bringing a different viewpoint.” That diversity of thought can come from anything: educational background, financial situation, gender, ethnicity, religion, all those different things.
Describe an unexpected outcome that helped make you a better leader.
Working at home, I had to establish myself as a leader with people within the organization who had never met me. I had to demonstrate that I knew what I was talking about, had good ideas and that I was open to listening.
The pandemic made me realize how imperative it is to try and make sure that people are engaged, excited and involved in things.
How does Northern Trust support your community engagement?
Northern Trust offers two paid volunteer days a year. Last year, my team did a fantastic event at the London Science Museum encouraging young people to go into STEM. We used one of those days to go to the organized event at the science museum, set up the store and pitch to the students. It’s so cool to talk to young people and explain why technology is exciting.
What advice would you give to other people exploring a career at Northern Trust?
We have a different focus and a different culture from some of the other big banks. Once you’re here, there are loads and loads of opportunities within the organization to move around, challenge yourself and develop your career.
Hometown: Kent, England
Current location: Sidcup (South East London), England
Time at Northern Trust: 2 years
Favorite food: I like most food—especially Italian and Chinese.
Favorite Sport: I’ve been watching a bit of tennis and I'm impressed with Emma Raducanu. She comes from around SE London.
Currently reading: Trio by William Boyd. A very good friend of mine sent me that for my birthday and it was just excellent.
Cause you are passionate about: I support the food banks and school breakfast clubs because I think it is so important to make sure that people have enough to eat.