What advice would you offer to women
just starting out in the industry?
I am pleased to say that times have
changed in the commercial finance
industry. Not only are we seeing greater
numbers of women working in the sector
today, but far more operate at a senior
level. Younger women entering the workforce have strong role models to look up
and aspire to. As a result, we are seeing
more meritocracy, which is positive for our
My message to anyone starting out
in the sector would be to work hard, be
enthusiastic and open-minded. Youngsters
have a whole career ahead of them, one
which could go in any number of exciting
directions. We operate in a fast-paced and
stimulating environment, which continues to evolve — it’s the perfect time to be
What do you know now that you wish you
knew in the beginning of your career?
I wish I had known that opportunities
Throughout my working life I have
always turned to colleagues and friends
with flourishing careers, who could offer
me real pearls of wisdom and advice. This
has been invaluable to me at every stage,
and remains the same today.
What do you think the industry could
do to attract and retain the best and the
I don’t think the commercial finance
industry needs to work that hard to attract
and retain talent. It is globally diverse, fast
moving and rapidly growing, and for those
reasons it will always attract — and retain
— some of the brightest and best.
When I look at technology specifically,
then I would argue there is a need to do
more to attract women into IT. But this
needs to start at grass roots — we need
to do more to attract younger girls into IT
and technical careers. We need to make IT
more interesting in schools and colleges,
and to encourage greater take-up of these
subjects by girls. This will naturally create a
bigger pipeline of female talent and greater diversity in this area of the workplace.
would open up as my career progressed. I
started my working life believing that the
world of work was built on hierarchy, when
in actual fact there is a lot less hierarchy
than we all perceive.
Having strong interpersonal skills and
building up your contacts are vital components for a successful career. Think about
the type of person you like to work with
and chances are those around you feel the
same. If you want to get on, then you need
to actively be that person and you’ll attract
opportunity to you.
Knowing that I didn’t need to be pigeonholed, or to be afraid of taking risks and
opening up new opportunities would have
been valuable to me as I began my career.
What kind of role has mentoring and/or
sponsorship played in your career?
Early on in my career, working at Royal
Bank Invoice Finance, I was surrounded
by well-regarded and experienced
colleagues. These were people I knew
I could turn to for support, who were
hugely focused on the development of
junior members of staff.
Global Products Director
s HPD Software’s global products director, Andrea Cole is responsible for
the company’s overall product direction. She is constantly pushing the
boundaries to make sure HPD’s solutions continue to meet the chang-
ing needs of businesses in the working capital finance sector, ensuring
the company remains the technology partner of choice for commer-
Andrea manages a team of 75-80, overseeing product development, testing and
support. Her role is to ensure that HPD’s clients, which span over 50+ countries, continue to receive best-of-breed technology.
She began her career as a graduate trainee at Royal Bank Invoice Finance, where
she quickly moved up the ranks to become an account manager in operations.
Andrea later honed her project management skills as part of the change management team, working on IT projects, where she was part of the team that managed
the merger with Natwest.
When she joined HPD Software in 2001, Andrea applied the knowledge she had
gained in managing service level agreements to support HPD’s multi-country iFactor
clients. She then moved into an integral role in the development and implementation of HPD’s Aquarius platform.
In 2017 Andrea was named HPD Software’s global products director where she
was tasked with launching the company’s LendScape solution. She and her team
are now focused on providing the ‘end-to-end empowerment of working capital
finance solutions’ that LendScape offers.