Spotlight Series: Lynda Strutton, Chief Operating Officer, Tribe

Lynda Strutton


Dive into the inspiring career journey of Lynda Strutton, Chief Operating Officer at Tribe Payments, who has over 10 years of experience in the payments industry across EMEA. Lynda shares insights on shaping her career path, female role models, proud career moments, sought-after skills, and advice for newcomers.

Lynda Strutton is Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Tribe Payments, responsible for managing all aspects of the innovation-focused fintech company’s commercial, marketing, operational and product output.

Lynda has more than 10 years’ experience in the payments industry across EMEA and proven track record in product commercialisation, notably introducing the first acquirer-owned Android-based POS application across the MEA region. 

How did you land your current role? Was it planned?

I’ve worked in the financial sector for quite some time now, with roles at Barclaycard, Network International and Elavon, but Tribe intrigued me. Its founder had owned other businesses and had found it difficult to get fast financial technology that was adaptable. He worked closely with a few techies and asked them to start looking into some of the challenges that he had, and together they managed to overcome some of these hurdles. They evolved the way the technology worked, building not how it had always been done and essentially created their own solutions.

Then suddenly other businesses who were having the same problems began reaching out wanting these solutions too. So, Tribe was officially launched to help. This was five years ago, and I joined in 2022. First, I came in as Vice President of Customer Success based on my experience in building and leading high-performance teams, and then I was promoted to COO in January 2023.

Lynda Strutton

What are the key roles in your field of work, and why did you choose your current expertise?

The fintech industry is characterised by tech progress and innovation. We’re here to continuously reshape and improve traditional financial services to ultimately drive efficiency, accessibility, and inclusivity. That means key roles are those that contribute to the development, implementation, and success of fintech innovations.

They’re jobs like Chief Technology Officers who oversee the technological direction of the company, or Product Managers who are responsible for developing and managing new products and ensuring they meet market needs.

It can also be those like Data Analysts, Compliance Officers and Risk Managers for people who tend to be more analytically minded. But creative souls also find success here – Content Creators and Marketing Strategists have helped rebrand what was traditionally quite a dry industry (banking and finance) into something that is eye-catching and alluring. And this helps to improve customer engagement, build brand awareness, and drive user acquisition and retention.

So, out of all the options, why did I choose to become COO? As a COO in a fintech company, I’m at the helm of operational strategy, driving efficiency, and ensuring smooth execution of initiatives. It’s an extremely rewarding role that involves a lot of decision-making, solving complex challenges, and fostering collaboration across teams.

I personally thrive in a role that’s dynamic like this. One that offers the opportunity to shape the business’s growth, the individual success of those in my team, and make a lasting impact in the industry.

Did you (or do you) have a role model in tech or business in general?

I was lucky enough that my first role within financial services was at Barclaycard where two of the top leaders at the time were female, including my CEO. I had quite a lot of mentors to look up to which gave me great foundations to build from.

I also take a lot of inspiration from motivational leaders. Tony Robbins has a good quote: “It’s not about the goal. It’s about growing to become the person who can accomplish that goal.” When it comes to personal development, people are just thinking about what job they want next rather than how they can become the person who can get that job and do the job well.  People think it’s all about performance and results, but often it’s about making sure that others know who you are, what you do, and why you do what you do.  People in my organisation will probably see this fall into my leadership style.  

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

When I was working at Network International in the Middle East, the lack of diversity I encountered galvanised me to form mentorship workshops for women and under-represented minorities, and I arranged monthly support sessions. We would pick a theme and I would invite guest speakers to come and talk about their experience. 

Some people were asked if they wanted to bring up actual situations that they’d gone through or were going through to share or get advice on. There were stories about harassment, bullying, and other very difficult situations. Some just wanted to get their voice heard. Others were things people were worried about or didn’t have the confidence to act on.  

My goal was to simply empower the ladies as well as let them bring some issues to us to deal with in a safe and secure place. I enjoyed running them, and it was great to see the value that they added to people’s lives. 

I’m also proud of being recognised as one of the Top 25 Women Leaders in Financial Technology in Europe for 2023, and I’m working with other female leaders in the industry to support and create more opportunities for women, whether they’re just starting out in their careers or navigating the challenges of C-suite life.

What does an average workday look like for you?

I’m not sure that I can describe an average day – one thing I love about my role is that it is never boring. Being COO of a scaling business means rolling your sleeves up and getting your hands dirty daily as well as setting strategy and direction of the business, so the vastness of the role means no day is the same.

I do find comfort in some routines though, like making sure we have our team meetings, the one to ones each week with my team, and working sessions that focus on the key milestones we have to deliver. We have a strong focus at Tribe now on breaking down big problems into smaller objectives that are executed by mini taskforces across the organisation, and these really work on moving the needle so any of my days are focused on continuing to do these things.

Are there any specific skills or traits that you notice companies look for when you’re searching for roles in your field?

In a tech-heavy industry, obviously STEM skills are highly sought after, but it’s just as important for people to have a broad skill set. Roles are less segregated these days – it’s becoming expected for everyone, no matter what their role, to have ‘soft’ skills too, such as negotiating with clients, identifying new business opportunities, coaching team members, and building good client relationships.

Soft skills like listening with an open mind, willingness to learn new ways of doing things, and being adaptable in a fast-moving industry like fintech are just as vital as hard skills to be successful.

At Tribe, a lot of our ongoing work is focused on encouraging and championing women in STEM. Right now, we have more than 180 employees across various European offices. Roughly a third of our senior leadership team are women, and in technical roles, women lead in IT project management (89%) and implementation (59%).

Has anyone ever tried to stop you from learning and developing in your professional life, or have you found the tech sector supportive?

I’ve not encountered any direct opposition to my career progression, but rather more indirect challenges related to the lack of diversity in tech – it can still be very much a boys’ club at times, and I have found sometimes people are not open to change. Although I had some female mentors and role models early in my career, as I moved to different organisations, I found that although there were some women in leadership roles, the balance wasn’t as good.

This became even more apparent when I relocated to the Middle East for work, and that really opened my eyes to a lack of diversity in the industry and different regions. I would walk into a room with 10 or 20 men in it and I would often be the only female. 

Back in the UK now, I’ll go to conferences or dinners and events and often there is me or one other woman on the table. Things are changing but the balance still isn’t there, even though there are lots of women in the industry.  

Have you ever faced insecurities and anxieties during your career, and how did you overcome them?

Of course, and I still do daily. I think I have and still do put a lot of pressure on myself to know everything and not make mistakes but that is not possible, sustainable, or in fact the right thing to do. 

I’ve learned overtime I can’t manage a team that crosses so many different functions and be able to know the full detail of everything. This at times means you do not feel in control or may not be able to answer a question someone asks you but empowering your team members and creating high-performing, self-sufficient teams with solid communication flows is more important.

Never making mistakes means you’re not taking enough risks. Of course, you must balance this and learn from them – this is what I remind myself of in each moment of doubt. Do the right things every day and they will compound. 

Entering the world of work can be daunting. Do you have any words of advice for anyone feeling overwhelmed?

I think it’s natural for everyone to feel nervous when starting out in their career and entering the workforce, even for established professionals when changing roles later on. Personally, I think we should choose to embrace the doubt. The imposter syndrome runs through me daily, but how you choose to use this is up to you. For me it drives me to be more curious, to challenge more, and to make sure I continue to learn to earn my seat at the table.

What advice would you give other women wanting to reach their career goals in technology?

To create big change, let’s think small. That might sound odd, but I like the idea that if everyone did something positive each week just to get one percent better – whether it’s for their own personal growth, career development, or lifting up others – it can make a huge impact over time. Think about how you can help do those one percent things to move things forward every day. For example, recognise that if there is just one or two women sitting at the table in a room of men, they may not feel 100% comfortable. How do you help with that? Women need to continue doing what they’re doing and keep paying it forward. 

There is a shift happening. It’s down to the women to seize opportunities that come their way, and also create opportunities for themselves too by being confident in their abilities and having a ‘can-do’ mindset.



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