March 27, 2024

Jo Ann Barefoot and Shelley Anderson

Today’s show is a first for us, because the guest is me. To mark Women’s History Month, we had my AIR colleague Shelley Anderson interview me on my perspective about the progress, and lack thereof, on efforts to drive toward gender equality. Shelley gets me to look back over my long career, which includes that I was the first woman ever to serve as Deputy Comptroller of the Currency. I share some memories about the blatant gender discrimination that was the norm in the early years of my work. I offer thoughts on the improvement that’s occurred since those days, and on the huge gaps that persist today, despite decades of women and men trying to level the playing field.  


Shelley is a program director on our AIR team in London (we now have three people in the UK and one in South Africa, and we actually span ten time zones). She was formerly a regulator at the Financial Conduct Authority and, along with fellow FCA alumna Francesca Hopwood Road, has co-founded the group Women in Regulatory Innovation, or WIRI. In our conversation, we brainstorm ideas for bringing more gender balance to regulatory agencies and more broadly, to workplaces and financial services markets. 


We call out lots of names of awesome women who are doing amazing things, although we only scratched the surface. (Note that if you’re looking for women to speak at events on financial regulation, WIRI can help!)  We also talk about some of the work AIR is doing to advance women’s economic empowerment, including in emerging markets, especially through the multi-year grant we have from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


Shelley gets me talking a bit about myself and some of the unusual adventures I’ve had, including that I once undertook a wilderness fast on a  mountain in southern California.  For some reason, in the recording I added a day to it — probably because it felt even longer than it was!  It was actually three days and three nights, solo, with no food and no tent. My decision to do it is perhaps a reflection of the advice I give to women whenever I’m asked for some. My advice is, be brave. Take risk. Have courage.


Shelley and I had a lot of fun recording today's show. I hope you enjoy it too, and I hope it might spark energy and ideas on how to do better for girls and women and, in the process, make the world work better for everyone.

More on Jo Ann Barefoot

Jo Ann Barefoot is CEO & Founder of the Alliance for Innovative Regulation (AIR), a nonprofit organization working globally to promote a more fair, inclusive and resilient financial system by helping adapt financial regulation for the digital age. She hosts the global podcast show Barefoot Innovation and is Senior Fellow Emerita at the Harvard Kennedy School Center for Business & Government. She has been Deputy Comptroller of the Currency, partner at KPMG, Co-Chairman of Treliant Risk Advisors, and a staff member at the U.S. Senate Banking Committee.


Jo Ann serves on the boards of Oportun, FinRegLab, and Elevandi, a nonprofit created by the Monetary Authority of Singapore to advance global financial inclusion through digital financial services. She serves on advisory bodies for FINRA, the Milken Institute, and the California Blockchain Working Group. She was formerly on the board of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, chaired the board of the Financial Health Network, and served on the CFPB’s inaugural Consumer Advisory Board. She co-founded the regtech firm, Hummingbird.


In 2023, American Banker named Jo Ann one of the most Influential Women in Fintech. Other honors include being recognized as Fintech Woman of the Year, selected to the Forbes magazine list of 50 Over 50, and named to the Fintech Hall of Fame and twice to the Women in Fintech Power List. Fast Company magazine has honored AIR in its World Changing Ideas awards. 


Jo Ann has published more than 200 articles and is the author of numerous papers on financial regulation and technology, including the RegTech Manifesto. She speaks each year to thousands of people throughout the world.

Here is a link that tells of some of Jo Ann’s unusual adventures.

More on Shelley Anderson

Shelley is a Program Director at the Alliance for Innovative Regulation (AIR). She is a seasoned TechSprint leader, having spent 16 years at the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority before coming to AIR in 2022. 


Starting in 2015, she was part of the FCA’s Regtech team in its Innovation Division. There she designed and led TechSprints and helped develop the regulator’s approach to interacting with the global Regtech ecosystem. Specializing in innovation for vulnerable consumers, Shelley has designed programs that look at the barriers faced by digital financial services consumers, and at how both regulators and firms can design better products for inclusion. 


At AIR, Shelley works on planning and producing TechSprints, leads the organization’s program to further expand its global reach, and focuses on ways to ignite technology innovation throughout the financial system. In addition, Shelley is co-founder of the Women In Regulatory Innovation (WIRI) network, which is creating a community of women across the globe with the aim of building meaningful diversity and inclusion within the regulatory system. She lives in the U.K., just outside of London, with her husband and three daughters.

More for Our Listeners

We have great episodes ahead, including a third-time conversation with Renaud Laplanche, and a discussion with renowned tech ethicist Nell Watson. We will have a fantastic show with Nthupang Magolego of the NCR & Collen Masunda of the IFC to discuss the NCR’s recent TechSprint. We also have a show planned with the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance SupTech Lab, and a fascinating discussion with former U.S. GSA Commissioner Sonny Hashmi, on how to modernize government technology. And much more.


In May my colleagues Shelley Anderson and Grace Mathebula will be at the 3i Africa Summit in Ghana. And in June, I will be at the ABA Regulatory Compliance Conference in Seattle.  


If you enjoy Barefoot Innovation, it’s important to leave us a five-star rating on your favorite podcast platform so more people can find us. Also please find me on social media to continue the conversation.

Get involved

Stay informed by joining our mailing list