Grace Jung, Square

WOMEN IN TECH: Q&A With Grace Jung, Head of Industry Relations, Payments, and Operations, Canada, Square

The latest candidate in our series of Q&As with influential women in the technology business in Canada is Grace Jung, Head of Industry Relations, Payments, and Operations, Canada, Square

Name: Grace Jung

Company: Square

Job Title: Head of Industry Relations, Payments and Operations in Canada

Years in the Industry: Over 20 Years

The Quote That Most Inspires You: ”I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – (Maya Angelou)

What drew you to a career in the consumer and/or business technology industry?

It all started with a part-time credit card customer service job at one of Canada’s largest banks. The majority of customers didn’t call in to share compliments but instead had questions or issues with their accounts. I embraced “delighting” customers or finding “moments of truth” that could turn their negative experience around.

Throughout my career, I’ve sought opportunities to positively impact customers’ experiences. Bringing innovative and accessible payment products to the Canadian market has far-reaching impact – through changing the way millions of customers pay and business owners get paid.

Have you encountered any roadblocks along the way that were related to your gender?

Being the only woman in a boardroom or one of only a few women at conferences over the years has been an unsettling experience as it’s natural to want to fit in wherever we are. I couldn’t change the fact that the tech industry was male-dominated, but I could immediately change my mindset about the situation.

Serial entrepreneur Michele Romanow shared excellent advice that’s stuck with me. She said the best way to handle similar situations is to focus on changing the way you feel. Rather than feeling that you’re at a disadvantage, consider your opportunity to stand out by feeling like you’re the most powerful person in the room.

What unique characteristics or perspective do you feel you bring to your organization as a woman?

I don’t know if it’s “as a woman,” but I do believe being compassionate and empathetic is important. It applies in all situations and brings about better outcomes. In understanding someone’s struggles, you can better serve your customers, better collaborate with colleagues, and become a better ally to support inclusion. By taking a walk in someone else’s shoes, even if it’s for just for a moment, we all can better understand people around us and think of ways to support them.

Technology is historically a male-dominated industry, yet the use of tech is fully embraced by women, and many studies even suggest that females are the primary buyers of tech in the home. What do you feel the technology industry needs to attract more women, particularly into high-level positions?

There needs to be greater investment in programs that elevate women leaders. Programs that create opportunities for mentorship can help inspire and motivate women to seek and pursue roles in tech. Kristy Duncan has done a phenomenal job in doing that by founding Women in Payments, which connects, inspires, and champions women across the fintech and payments industry.

If you had to sum up what it is like being a woman in this male-dominated technology industry in just a few words, what would you say?

A change in mindset and perception must start with belief in yourself and your abilities.

Are there other women in the tech industry who inspire you?

I’m blessed that so many women leaders inspire me. This includes those I work with at Square, like Seller Lead Alyssa Henry, those I’ve worked with in the past, like Debbie Gamble at Interac, and many other women I have met along the way. I’m also so inspired by Knix’s founder Joanna Griffiths, who has transformed an entire market.

Grace Jung, Square

What are some of the misconceptions/myths about women working in the technology space that you’d like to dispel?

There are many myths about working women but the main one is that you can’t have it all. I believe you really can have a happy family, a successful career, and whatever else matters to you – and you can do it all while being your authentic self. We can’t let misconceptions about gender, age, marital or parental status limit our choices in life.

What’s one thing you wish was done differently in the industry, and why?

I wish I had looked for mentorship and advice from successful women earlier on in my career. Their experiential knowledge about navigating roadblocks, finding opportunities for growth, and thinking about situations in new ways is truly invaluable.  

Are you optimistic for the future in general and for the industry?

I’m extremely optimistic about the future. The pandemic has pushed us all to find new and better ways of doing things both in our professional and personal lives. What’s happening at the intersection of financial services and technology right now is so exciting because it’s possible to create a future where everyone will have equal access to economic opportunities.