This October at The Fintech Times we are championing the fantastic females in the fintech industry. Around 30% of the fintech workforce are women, and we want to spotlight those who have not only made it to the top, but those who have overcome hurdles, bulldozing a path for the women to follow.
Here we hear from Natalie Luu, Roxana Mohammadian-Molina, Gabi Slemer and Kelly Palmer as they share with us their greatest achievement.
Natalie Luu, Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners
“It’s difficult to choose a single achievement above all others, but I am proud of the vast network that I’ve built consisting of operators and investors in tech. My colleagues would say that my greatest superpower is my network and ability to get to know people really well.
“As an investor, achievement is based mostly on how you enable entrepreneurs to do their best work. Having a strong network has been a pool of gold for founders to tap into, ranging from potential customer introductions to strong potential hires. For everyone I’ve ever met in a professional capacity, I have a tendency to get personal and understand what motivates people deep down. My network is continuously compounding, and there’s always a way that I can directly help others or reach into my network to find the best advisor possible.
“From a young age, I have acted fearlessly to connect with others. When I was 16 and didn’t have the means to pay for college, I applied to over 100 scholarships over a semester and secured the funds to pay for my Stanford degree. At Stanford, I took it upon myself to meet everyone with an entrepreneurial bent, despite being in one of the smallest majors on campus. While working at Y Combinator, I met hundreds of founders and have helped them navigate product development, growth, fundraising, acquisition offers, and company building. I still keep in touch with many of the founders I got to know years ago. Outside of actively evaluating investment opportunities, I’m constantly building my network of financial institutions, enterprises, and fintech unicorns. This has proven to be helpful in gathering invaluable insights on the fintech landscape in the lens of operators and sharing them with the founders I work mostly closely with.”
Roxana Mohammadian-Molina, Chief Strategy Officer at Blend Network
“I am generally not a person to sit down and look back at my achievements because I am always so focused on the future and how I can constantly improve myself to reach my personal and professional goals. However, reflecting on it now, I’d say that my greatest achievement so far is simply being where I am now knowing how hard it’s been to get here.
“You see, my upbringing wasn’t your regular upbringing even though it was a very happy one. I grew up in a war zone during one of the bloodiest wars of the 1980’s. I grew up in Iran at the time of the Iran-Iraq war, being taken out of the French school when this had to shut down due to the war and having to go to the regular religious schools all the kids went to at the time. The school, like almost every school back then, had an underground refuge we’d escape to every time the bombs started hitting the town. So, looking back, I think that going from that small cramped and humid classroom to leading a successful career as a London banker and then as a FinTech entrepreneur is certainly my greatest achievement.
“It’s not been easy, but then again no one promised it would be. It’s certainly been fun though. I attribute this achievement to my key success ingredient: focus. I feel people underestimate the importance of focus. Focus is key because it allows you to block out everything that’s not key to achieving your goals and concentrate on one single objective.
“When talking about achievements, I feel it is very important to measure our achievements based on ourselves only instead of trying to compare our achievements with those of others around us. This is key because every person is different and has different capacities, goals and ambitions, so trying to compare our achievements with those of others risks creating unreasonable and unachievable expectations. But it’s also because if we stop to compare our achievements with others, we are simply wasting precious time we could be spending on bettering ourselves. I really like the analogy of a race: imagine you are running a marathon, if you stop, even for a split second, to check up on your competitors and see how far behind you they are, then you are wasting that split second you could be using to get further ahead.”
Gabi Slemer, Founder at Finasana
My greatest achievement was building Finasana from an idea to a fully functional product in less than six months. When I worked in banking, I called it ‘investment banking magic,’ when you accomplish something in a time period that doesn’t feel feasible at the onset. I think that carried through to the launch of Finasana.
I definitely didn’t do it on my own but had to hold many different roles at the same time, including strategy, project management, recruiting, compensation negotiation, writer, producer, sound quality engineer, developer, and graphic designer. But hey! I guess that’s the life of a founder! As Marc Randolph, the founder of Netflix, puts it, any founder’s job title is “ABC” – anything but coding. Although, in my case, I did quite a bit of the coding, too!
The personal finance stuff was easy because I know that like the back of my hand. It was just a matter of taking everything I know and have learned in my life and putting it on paper in a way that people would understand. Everything else was a constant learning curve. Even small things like coming up with the name and choosing the right colors for our brand were incredibly time-consuming and difficult tasks.
I gave myself a deadline, and at times, it felt like I wasn’t going to make it. About a week before launch I remember thinking, ‘This is nowhere near being ready. We’re never going to make it.’ And then, as if magically, it all just came together. It was an incredibly rewarding experience that I am very proud of.
Kelly Palmer, Executive Vice President of Client Transition at RenPSG
“Throughout my 30+ year career, there have been many achievements, both big and small, that make me proud. Whether it’s getting through a task that seems nearly impossible or helping a co-worker prepare for advancement, one thing I’ve noticed is that women are typically determined to get the job done – and usually do.
“One achievement I am particularly proud of is being asked to lead a project to develop a new administration platform after the previous attempt was ultimately killed after exceeding the project timeline and budget. While the project was daunting, I was determined to get it done on time and within budget.
“With that mindset, a project plan was developed and a project team, consisting mainly of women, was formed. The success of the project hinged on understanding the business requirements, obtaining buy-in from key personnel, clear communication, dedication, and perseverance. When coming to a tough decision point, rather than remaining indecisive, my team and I made sure to forge ahead on a clear path toward a better product. Through the hard work and dedication of the team, the project was successful and serves as the primary platform used by RenPSG today.”