The credit card fintech Petal said Thursday it named Ali Heron its chief technology officer. The move is part of a longstanding push to diversify employees and people in leadership, which the company charts on its careers page.
Heron, who joined Petal a year ago as head of engineering, has more than 20 years of experience in technology and finance, including 10 years at Microsoft serving in engineering and product roles. During her yearlong tenure as head of engineering at Petal, the engineering team doubled in size from 28 people in March 2021 to just over 60 people today.
A third of that group are women. Women also make up half the 12-member technology leadership teame.
There is a dearth of female CTOs at fintechs around the world, according to a November 2021 fintech diversity survey from Findexable, a global data and analytics company for private market fintech. The survey found that women tend to occupy roles such as head of human resources, chief people officer or chief marketing officer at fintechs. Fewer than one in 10 are CEOs at leading fintechs around the world. The company reports that only 3.75% of all female executives have a chief information officer or chief technology officer title.
Petal, which is based in New York City and Richmond, Virginia, has grown as a whole over the past year. It has more than 300,000 cardholders, a number that has tripled since January 2021. Its annualized revenue has more than quadrupled, from $11 million at the end of 2020 to nearly $50 million at the end of 2021. Last year it launched Prism Data, software that makes its cash-flow-based credit underwriting technology available to banks and fintechs.
When asked about her plans for Petal as CTO, Heron emphasized helping more people access credit, whether it’s because they are new to credit or are not measured accurately by the current system.
“My job is to unlock the innovation that enables Petal to help as many of those people as possible,” she said. “That means building a team, a set of processes and a technology platform that can truly scale. Now, we are working to ensure that we have the processes in place for our extended team to operate efficiently and build software effectively.”
Petal credit cards are issued and funded by WebBank, a $1.5 billion-asset institution in Salt Lake City.