The Middle East and Africa (MEA) region is generally an up and coming region with respect to its wider economic development. Specifically, the region has seen a growth and importance in fintech, producing its own unique innovations, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the space. As The Fintech Times in September celebrates the Women in Fintech we take a moment to hear more from some of the leading female leaders in both the Middle East and Africa. One of them is Rahav Shalom-Revivo, who is from Israel and is an expert in fintech and specifically in Financial-Cyber.
Rahav is the founder of the Fintech-Cyber Innovation lab program for the Israeli Ministry of Finance, the first initiative in the world that leverages governmental assets and data in order to promote Fintech and Cyber startups in an open innovation platform. She is also building and leading the national Financial-Cyber International collaboration with foreign governments, regulators and financial institutions around the globe. Rahav has more than 20 years of experience as an R&D senior manager with a focus on Cyber, Fintech, DevOps and Cloud solutions.
Rahav was nominated by Lattice80 in the top 100 women in the Fintech industry in 2019 to know and follow.
Women promotion is very close to her heart, and as such she is the founder of the Fintech Ladies IL community, the first community in Israel for females, and a member of the Israeli National Council, in charge of women promotion in the tech and science industries.
Describe your career journey
I’ve been dancing with tech pretty early in my life– I’ve learned electronics in high school, served as a Communication and Computers Officer in my military service, and graduated in a BA in Computer Science from university.
It was very natural after that to work as a Software Developer – in startups, Ministry of Defense, and many years at HP, where I climbed the management ladder and become a senior R&D manager. After 11 years at HP I realised that I want something else – I want to help, influence and promote from a national level.
I started to work at the Israeli Ministry of Finance, in which my overall experience and skills came into act, building new fields in the organisation, to promote the startups in the Startup-Nation using unique assets that we have as a government.
It also allowed me to build new Financial-Cyber international relationship field, sharing threat intelligence and our intellectual property of protection to the financial ecosystem in order to strengthen the entire financial ecosystem, locally and internationally.
As a recognised thought leader and a female, what difficulties have you faced in your career?
I always was the “first women” that – The first female officer serving in specific units in the army, the first women that managed to “survive” in a specific team, and more, you name it.
On one hand I had a supportive environment most of the time. On the other – I had to break many glass ceilings in my career path. also – it took me some time to see my career as a “career” and not only as a “job”. Only after my third girl was born, I realised that I want more, that I want to manage people, that I’m good at it.
As a result of that journey I founded together with fellow colleagues the Fintech Ladies IL community and this is why I’m part of the national council promoting women. I want my daughters not to be the “first women” in anything, I just want then to be the “first person” to reach a new goal.
What are the future trends and predictions you see happening in the region?
5G and AI will influence the entire market. These technologies are a huge enabler that creates many opportunities.
5G will allow much faster communication – transactions exchange time will reduce dramatically and moch more devices will be connected to the internet. Something that is essential in the COVID 19 era, with the accelerated digitalisation, much more work from home, and many more devices connected to the internet.
At the same time AI provides smarter solutions, while it becomes a more reliable tool, that makes decisions for us by its own. It is quite empowering to the market, to technologies and to innovation. while these are tremendous enablers leading us all forward, they can also be very harmful cybersecurity wise.
5G will bring a completely new arena of vulnerabilities – we’ll see a huge grow in the amount of the devices that are connected to the network. each one of them becoming a new entry point to a hacker.
The attackers can also utilise AI to build better and more sophisticated attacks. On top of that, AI relies on learning, on its database. Just imagine a situation in which we’ll continue to rely on decision that AI leads us to, but the database itself is poisoned by an attack.
What advice and recommendations do you want to give future female entrepreneurs and thought leaders who are based in the Middle East & Africa (MEA) region?
We’re in a post feminism era, where women are promoted out of strength and capabilities, not out pf being a victim. When move up the management ladder, always take a woman with you, nurture the younger generation in order to have strong female workforce and managers in the future.
Always dare! When faced with a new challenge – first yes and after that you’ll manage your way to it. If you’re facing the imposter syndrome (and most of us do at some stage in our career) take a big breath, wait for that wave to pass, and then do your very best. You’ll be amazing at it.
When you face obstacles – it is not always needed to fight them, you can also flow around them, transform them to empowering supportive tools.