As The Fintech Times celebrates Women in Fintech this September, we take a moment to hear more from some of its leading females.
Araliya Sammé is Head of Financial Crime at Featurespace, initially joining in June 2016 as a Financial Crime Subject Matter Expert with a focus on Fraud and Anti Money Laundering. She holds a Master of Engineering in Computer Science from the Institut Superieur d’Electronique deParis (I.S.E.P.), French Grande Ecole.
How did you get into the fintech space?
Featurespace is my first role in fintech. I started my career in the Retail Banking Compliance & Risk Management division at the international French bank, BNP Paribas, before working at ‘big four’ management consultants, Ernst & Young (EY) and Deloitte.
Leaping to a smaller business having spent most of my career at large organisations was an exciting prospect. I was attracted to Featurespace’s unique approach to fighting fraud and saw the enormous potential the company could play in helping to reduce financial crime globally.
One thing that has surprised me is how much benefit smaller firms gain from operating with a flexible, flat structure. This offers employees more opportunities to contribute to the direction of the company, which feeds into them feeling as if they have a genuine stake in the firm’s long-term performance.
Tell us a bit about your journey…
I studied for an MA in Engineering in France before entering the world of employment. The practical and analytical expertise this course gave me opened doors to a wide variety of sectors. I did not intend to enter financial services initially. However, I realised there were a lot of transferable skills I acquired from my MA that I could apply in the industry to help me make a strong impact quickly.
I think there is a lot of crossover between engineering and technology. Joining Featurespace seemed a natural step as it combines my avid interest in technology and expertise in financial services.
What is your day job now?
My main priority is ensuring the anti-money laundering arm of Featurespace is running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
This translates into managing different teams within the practice, making sure each person is focused on their role and contributing to the business’s growth.
Although I am more involved in driving the strategic direction of the firm for this side of the business now, I still really enjoy the practical side of things.
What achievement are you most proud of?
Contributing to making the world a safer place by helping to launch a solution that provides real benefits to tackling financial crime.
I – and by extension, the team – am motivated by the little wins. The positive direct feedback we receive from our customers pushes us to build on the successes we have achieved so far.
What are your thoughts on women in fintech?
Work in something you are very passionate about. Progressing in fintech takes a lot of dedication and practice due to the complexity of the subject matter – skills and acumen are not enough alone.
You should enjoy what you are doing, so try and identify what you find most interesting and push yourself to focus on that segment of the industry.
Stay genuine, work hard, and set achievable goals. Communicating efficiently will also help you get your points across clearly, increasing the likelihood of you being noticed and will show your value.
Exploit all chances to build out your network as you never know what opportunities could arise in the future.
Most importantly: maintain your curiosity. This will help show you are genuinely enthusiastic about the work you do.
What are you looking forward to delivering as part of your current role?
I am excited to deliver on the promises we made to our customers and help make them successful in their mission to tackle financial crime.