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 Colleen Ruane, Adriana Pirela, Dr. Cecilia Lenk, and Jinnee Lim as they share with us their greatest achievement.
Colleen Ruane, Director of Data Analytics, SEI
“Since joining SEI in 2017 as the Director of Data Analytics, I am most proud of leading a team of 30 professionals within the Investment Manager Services practice, where we have built the data and analytics programme from the ground up. As part of this, we have implemented its full integration into the overall product strategy, and I have seen firsthand how it has created a meaningful impact across our clients’ businesses. It has been truly rewarding to utilise my 15 years of industry experience to help establish and consolidate the best data analytics practices at SEI; a huge career milestone and an accomplishment for me.
“As I strive to be a better data science leader, I believe the key to delivering business value for clients is democratising access to data and providing the functional tools that they need to enable them to grow their business effectively. To achieve this, I implemented a strategy with three core goals at the forefront: enabling clients to use their firm’s platform to do more with their data; delivering actionable intelligence through analytics as a service; and finally, improving the platform experience by leveraging data and analytics.
“It is important to me to continually drive innovative efforts to improve SEI’s product suite and ensure that we are staying ahead of the curve and our competitors. I am responsible for making data visualisation tools available in the SEI Platform; delivering client/investor intelligence to SEI’s Platform users via churn models, cash flow forecasts, and client segmentation; and leveraging data science techniques to help advisors and managers engage their clients and identify risk within their books of business. Also included in the initiatives I lead is leveraging natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to build intelligent automation around manual and document-driven workflows, as well as deploying use cases in investor serving and loan ops.
“I am motivated each and every day by the knowledge my work has a direct and tangible impact across the financial services industry, where SEI’s 11,300 clients, ranging from banks, trust institutions, wealth management organisations, to independent investment advisors, retirement plan sponsors, hedge fund managers, have all made significant gains by leveraging SEI’s data analytics platform.”
Adriana Pirela, Chief Marketing Officer, Digicel Group
“I believe that my most outstanding achievement is that I have managed to empower people.
“I have worked with many people during my career, and the most incredible feeling is to see them grow personally and professionally.
“Being able to start as a group of people and become a team, to then seeing them outperform, and then looking at them becoming essential people in their areas and accepting more significant and more challenging roles in all aspects of their lives will always be my greatest achievement.”
Dr. Cecilia Lenk, Chief Executive Officer, Netcapital, Inc.
“Achievements are funny things. They come in all shapes, sizes, colours, and flavours; and each runs on its own schedule. There are the big life events that everyone recognises – graduations, marriages, running marathons, new jobs, children, buying houses, and the like. There are also achievements that are very personal, the ones that make us smile inside and think “I did that.” It may mean nothing to anyone else but it means a lot to me.
“I struggled to identify my greatest achievement among all the things I’ve been lucky enough to accomplish in my life. Then a friend pointed out that I was thinking about it all the wrong way. My greatest achievement wasn’t a singular achievement or milestone moment in life. Rather it was how I was living my life.
“I believe my greatest achievement is working every day to stay true, both in my professional and personal life, to a core set of values that encompass empathy, kindness, openness, reliability, honesty, and fairness. I’d like to think I was always considered a nice person. But, at the same time, I also wasn’t giving any thought to what values I was truly committed to. It wasn’t until my first really big, potentially career-defining, job that I had to confront what values were important to me in my professional life, and whether a title and nice salary could make up for being in an organisation that didn’t have those same values.
The company lacked a culture that valued fairness, kindness, transparency, and to some extent truth, above all else. The boss played favorites and was not kind to the staff. People mistrusted others so they didn’t share information and hoarded resources. My team was great but the values that were tolerated across the organisation were not. I left. Career-wise it wasn’t the best move at the time. But, leaving was the smartest thing I ever did. The experience started me on a more critical journey – to more deeply understand what was important to me and to put myself in environments that would strengthen those values.
“My greatest achievement is a work in progress and one that makes me smile every once in a while and think “I did that”.”
Jinnee Lim, Chief Growth Officer – Southeast Asia, Finder
“Being a nonconformist is my superpower.
“Whenever I have moved to a new role or company, I’ve never fit the expected profile of the successful candidate. There’s been big ‘gaps’; either I’ve never worked in that industry or had the proven track record for that role.
“But I’ve never let others’ preconceptions rattle me. Being a nonconformist is my superpower. I know what I’m capable of and have resilience, curiosity in spades, and a strong ability to adapt. I also have the humility to acknowledge that I don’t know everything.
“When I joined UBS, I had no wealth management background. I was given a project on my first day with a two-week deadline: to form a view on a strategic partnership in an Asian market. With no time to enjoy being the ‘newbie’ and without the typical three-month induction to learn about the industry or the business, I had to work backwards from the desired outcome and find answers – fast. Luckily, I love nothing more than a challenge and I had a supportive manager who provided guidance. My work was commended and my recommendation was accepted by the Asia Pacific leadership team.
“I joined GoBear tasked with setting up a corporate development team and leading their transformation into a multi-vertical business model – despite zero experience in fundraising or digital businesses! The then-CEO saw something in me that he believed was more important than experience so I quit a comfortable job at a prestigious bank and signed up. When we faced unprecedented challenges during the global pandemic that led to the decision to wind down the business, there were people who undermined my ability to pull off a rescue deal. I refused to let the negative energy impact me; I was determined and used my creativity and perseverance to take on the fight. It was one of the toughest times in my career but I remained focussed on my goals and I completed deals that saved jobs in several markets.
“Once I advised the decision-makers of a financial institution on the viability of entering a new market to set up an onshore business for its regional expansion. There were many challenges that they would face and I provided an honest view against investing in the market. I was asked to make the recommendation more positive for the investment to be approved but I held my ground – for me, integrity is vital as an advisor.”