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 Ivy Lu, Leslie Thomason, Roxanne Hererra, and Nathalie Miller as they share with us their greatest achievement in the industry.
Ivy Lu, Chief Data Scientist at Oxygen
“I consider being named ‘Chief Data Scientist’ and the only female member of the executive team at Oxygen at such an early point in my career to be my greatest achievement. It has not always been easy, and I’m proud that other women have looked to me for inspiration. It’s a major reason why I volunteer and mentor younger female engineers, scientists and technologists. I want to encourage them to continue to pursue their passions. I personally know the joy and satisfaction that comes from pursuing passions.
“I’m also proud to be part of a startup environment at Oxygen reimagining personal and business banking for the ‘new economy.’ I come from very large organisations (Apple, CapitalOne) and I enjoy being part of a startup team that we believe is really addressing what we perceive as structural problems in financial services. It’s exciting to start at basically zero in so many aspects where you can imagine ‘what if’ instead of just focusing on incremental improvements. It’s truly an opportunity to make a difference in the world and from the ground floor.
“Since I have a passion for mentorship and encouraging women in tech, I am honoured at the opportunity to take on an executive role and ensure my direct reports are receiving mentorship and engagement opportunities to really take their lives to the next level. I have been fortunate to have mentors along the way that have inspired me to reach higher levels of achievement and I have a strong desire to do the same for others.
“Finally, as Chief Data Scientist, I have the opportunity and responsibility to build a data-driven culture across our entire organisation, a key component to building the financial platform for the 21st-century economy. Because of advances in AI and data-sharing, leading through data and AI will be a critical component in engagement and overall success in financial services and I am humbled to be able to lead that effort.”
Leslie Thomason, Director of Client Success at Paymerang
Over the past eleven years, Leslie Thomason has been integral to Paymerang as the company has grown from ten employees to 200. Leslie has done it all at Paymerang, from singlehandedly calling vendors and processing payments, to now being the Director of Client Success and managing a team that provides world-class customer service.
Leslie originally came from a customer service background, so she had all the tools and experience necessary to build Paymerang’s Client Success team. Leslie streamlined the implementation process, created a vertical-specific account management structure, and made client relationship building her team’s priority.
Asking an organisation to change one of its most important processes, Accounts Payable, is no easy feat. Leslie realises this and has structured the customer experience to be accommodating, delicate and efficient. She has made it her mission to ensure Paymerang’s clients feel at ease and cared for.
Success is often viewed as the final product. Leslie has shown that while results are important, the challenges you face along the way and lessons you learn are what develop your character. Being a female in FinTech and holding a leadership position is highly admirable. Leslie has become a role model for women within the organisation based on her positivity, perseverance, and determination.
When asked what she would say to the next generation of emerging female leaders at Paymerang, she responded “I look forward to seeing Paymerang’s continued development of its female leaders. As we experience tremendous growth, I’m excited to see the increased opportunities as more roles are developed.”
Roxanne Hererra, Director of Corporate Development at Camino Financial
“Last year, I received a Key Contributor award during the pandemic as I led Schwab’s Community Development Lending portfolio. As I think back about the evolution of my career, I remember setting my first goal of becoming my high school’s valedictorian. I wanted to serve as a role model for other Latinas in my community and during this time, I completed my Associate of Arts degree. I then transferred some of these credits to USC where I double majored in Economics and Business Administration.
“My goal setting literally opened doors not only for myself but also for other Latinas who often reach out with ‘doubts’ about belonging. I encourage them to be a part of a future with ‘women thriving in a more just and equitable world’ to help drive impactful, exponential change together as one. This is why I currently help mentor an underrepresented Latina college student through the Peninsula College Fund. During undergrad, my diligence and participation in the career preparation program Management Leadership for Tomorrow, led to an internship at Goldman Sachs in New York that exposed me to a career in Finance. I also took part in the Summer Venture in Management program at Harvard Business School, which sparked my interest in graduate school. This is why I continue to volunteer and participate in local programs centred on helping provide access to information/mentorship for underrepresented communities.”
Nathalie Miller, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Ascend
“My greatest achievement is figuring out how to surround myself with true teammates–and I mean this in all aspects of life. Earlier in life I would gravitate towards people who were sparkling and charismatic and inspiring in many ways, but that often came with large egos and stressful politics.
“This, of course, gets difficult. So I made a conscientious shift to seek out people who uplift.
“Recently I have been lucky to work with leaders and teams that have big hearts, empathy, and humility to match their skills and brains. The older I get, the more these traits matter to me. There’s nothing like collaborating with people who value and uplift you because they understand that this culture will ultimately benefit the team. And because they understand that this is just a nice way to be.
“Similarly, on the personal side I am grateful that I found a true life partner. I think this is particularly crucial for professional women, as household and family responsibilities are traditionally so gendered–what Arlie Hochschild called the “second shift” of duties that typically fall disproportionately on women. But it’s different for Isaak and me. When I needed to step back from paid work to do the unpaid work of caring for our babies and building our family, he stepped up professionally. When my dad was in the hospital, he showed up bedside to caretake in equal measure as I did. And now my baby is Ascend, as our company is in its earliest stages, so when I’m needed more at work Isaak keeps our household stable and functioning, making sure hair is braided and teeth are brushed. He does all of this happily and without fuss.
“I don’t take any of this for granted. It’s incredibly lucky when you connect with people that understand that collaboration isn’t just working together. That’s the bare minimum. True collaboration–the kind that lasts and the kind that wins–is when people care about each other. When you love each other and the project you’re working on enough to pick up slack and then ask for help and then do it all over again.”