Tell us about yourself.
My name is Jessica Lerro and I am the AVP of Technology Business Management & Governance, which is a newly established function responsible for ensuring the Technology & Operations business is being managed transparently, efficiently, and effectively. Outside of work, I’m a mom, a foodie, I enjoy going to see live music and staying active whether it’s working out (shoutout to the 1Interac Peloton crew!), going on hikes, snowboarding, or doing yoga. Most recently, I started trying out salsa dancing and immediately became obsessed!
What does a typical day at Interac look like for you?
In both my new and previous roles, my success is directly tied to others at the organization so my typical day involves A LOT of meetings with my team and various partners and stakeholders to work towards achieving our common goals. Every day is different, which makes the work interesting for me and keeps me on my toes.
What is your favourite part of the job?
It’s hard to pick just one so here are two…
I love the people that I work with every day, particularly my team. We’re a fun and silly bunch and we’ve built strong connections over the time we’ve spent together. They inspire me to be the best leader I can be and have played a significant role in my own growth and development. I’m grateful to have such an awesome group of people to work with!
I also enjoy the problem-solving aspect of my job and collaborating with others to figure out the best solution. Everyone brings unique skills to the table and I love that I can learn from my colleagues and gain perspectives that I wouldn’t have on my own. This wouldn’t be possible without the support of my managers who trust me and give me the latitude to use my creativity. I love dealing with the grey area because it allows me to use my creative side to navigate ambiguous situations. I’ve always felt that I was provided the environment and support I needed to do my best work.
You have worked here for 4 years; can you share more about your journey at Interac so far?
I joined Interac in 2018 as the lead for the Technology Transformation team, primarily responsible for establishing the Next Gen program. My mandate then expanded to leading the Agile transformation in 2019, and over the years, I built the Agile practice from the ground up from just one team member to now a team of nine. We started off experimenting with one Agile team, the Interac e-Transfer Notifications, Gateway & OAS squad (kudos to the Lighthouse OGs!) and now, we have multiple products and programs across Interac working in an Agile way.
In between all of this, I went on maternity leave for a year and as a first-time mom, I was unsure of how to prepare for being away from work for that long. It was all a new experience for me but everyone at Interac was very supportive throughout the entire process and it made everything easier.
Just recently, I got promoted to my new role, which is a new function altogether. My new focus is to put some structures and processes in place and build out the team. It’s been quite a rollercoaster ride over the four years I’ve been here, I’ve learned a ton and had a lot of fun along the way. I look forward to what else is in store for me at Interac.
What advice do you have for other women looking to kickstart their career in FinTech?
Believe in yourself. It all starts with you.
I’ve really struggled with this and still do to this day. It’s unfortunately very common for women to deal with imposter syndrome, which is why it’s so important to surround yourself with people who will advocate for you and celebrate your successes. I often need that external validation to silence the inner critic in my head that tries to convince me that I’m not good enough so that I can truly believe that I am worthy and capable.
You are a champion of the HeARTwork program by Conscious Economics which Interac is proudly sponsoring. Can you provide more details on this program and the important work it’s doing to address gender inequity in corporate Canada?
The HeARTwork program is a three-year grassroots initiative designed to capture real stories and experiences of diverse working women across Canada to craft policies that will influence organizations to address barriers women face in corporate Canada. It is such a unique program in that it leverages the intersection of research, art and conscious dialogue amongst women who have lived experiences dealing with various challenges and biases that women commonly face in the workplace. The approach that Conscious Economics has taken speaks to the authenticity of the program in trying to tackle gender inequity in Canada.
I’m very proud to be part of this important initiative alongside many talented women at Interac. It’s been an amazing and impactful experience hearing real stories from other women and realizing so many of us have similar journeys. It made me realize that I’m not alone in a lot of the challenges that I face, and it was helpful to learn how my peers overcame those same challenges. You can learn more about HeARTwork: Advancing Women in Leadership here.
How do you #EmbraceEquity both at Interac and outside of the workplace?
At Interac, I’m a member of the Women’s Employee Resource Group (ERG), which is an employee-led group that supports women both professionally and personally. One of the key initiatives that was developed by the Women’s ERG is the 1Interac Women’s Mentorship Program, which kicked off as a pilot in 2021. By popular demand, we brought it back for second cycle and recently launched a third cycle on International Women’s Day.
I believe that mentorship is a necessity for women because of the specific systemic challenges women face in their professional and personal lives. I’ve heard firsthand from the mentorship participants about how the program has benefitted them and the deep, meaningful connections built with colleagues across the organization – this kind of stuff warms my heart. It’s been an honour to be part of this from the beginning and I feel so proud to be able to pass the torch to the next set of champions who will continue to make a difference for women at Interac.
Outside of Interac, I volunteer with Habitat for Humanity (HFH), a non-profit organization that strives to provide safe and affordable homes for those in need. Over the last seven years, I’ve had the opportunity to help build homes at HFH’s construction sites, provide pro-bono consulting to improve their ReStore operations, as well as support their corporate fundraising initiatives as a member of the Corporate Fund Development Committee.
Interac is committed to supporting small businesses across Canada. Are there any women-owned businesses you’d like to highlight and share?
Definitely Makeway for any sneakerheads out there. Makeway really walks the talk when it comes to inclusion. They make a point to support BIPOC-owned businesses and they reserve their coveted sneaker releases for women and members of the LGBTQ+ community because of how difficult it is to get access to some of these exclusive sales.
I’m also a sucker for pretty little things so Doux Studio Ceramics would be my other pick. The woman who owns this business carefully hand crafts beautiful ceramic vases, jewelry trays and other custom pieces that are perfect as gifts or even a little treat for yourself.
What makes Interac a unique place to work?
I’m sure everyone at Interac would agree – it’s the people and culture. Interac is probably the first place that I’ve worked where I feel comfortable bringing my whole, authentic self to work. I used to think it was necessary to compartmentalize my work and personal life to avoid judgment from others. But at Interac, I feel liberated to just be myself. The inclusive culture and the organization’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion makes Interac an awesome place to work.
Learn more about life at Interac here.