Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’ve been at Xpress Money for five years and am the head of Strategy & Digital at Xpress Money, executing the company’s digital strategy and planning for growth. Part of this is through creating partnerships for the company that enable strategic benefits and exponential growth.

Whilst I’ve been in the financial services for around 12 years, working across a variety of different products for both fast paced start-ups and large organisations, my background is in engineering and have an MBA degree from IIM Ahmedabad, India.

Outside of work I’m a keen traveller – This year I visited the really vibrant Cape Town & Prague, the city of cobbled stones & castles. I am a voracious reader, currently reading “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness” a work of fiction by Arundhati Roy. I also love a good TV series & binge watch most of them; while “Game of Thrones” & “Breaking Bad” are all-time favorites, I am currently engrossed in watching “Line of Duty”.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

 No! However, it’s always been about pursuing opportunities that I have been excited about and making the most of the same. Early on in my career I jumped in as a founding member of a tech start-up in financial services. The experience transformed the way I looked at roles and how to shape them. Apart from the thrill of building an organisation, the experience inculcated in me a deep respect for all functions that go into the process. I have carried this aspect of collaboration through mutual respect across my entire work life so far, that has helped me tremendously to succeed.

I’ve always been interested in technology led businesses and I’ve steered my career in that direction through grabbing interesting opportunities. Right out of engineering college, I built softwares as a developer in a large technology firm.

Post my MBA, I got interested in financial services as a domain & the role of technology therein. Hence I pursued opportunities that enabled me to learn payments products & platforms. Currently, I am having a lot of fun shaping and participating in the $600 billion remittance industry, while making convenience the cornerstone for our customers.

 Have you faced any challenges along the way? How did you deal with them?

I’ve faced many challenges and the best way to deal with them has been patience and ultimately, persistence. Self-belief is what keeps me going in the face of challenges. I’ve also been lucky to have built very strong relationships during my entire work life – people who have demonstrated faith in me and stood by me; that made dealing with any challenges a lot easier.

Do you have a typical workday? How does you start your day and how does it end?

My workday always starts with a dedicated 20 minutes to plan the day and feed my priorities into the calendar. This helps to unclutter my mind and also prevents me from getting distracted by the many unforeseen emergencies during the day. The day typically ends with making sure that all emails that require my attention have been catered to.

Have you ever faced sexism in the workplace? How did you respond/deal with this?

Early on in my career I had the experience of being “manterrupted” in meetings. Fortunately, my ability to speak fast and over every other voice in the room is a saviour. On a serious note, an emphatic “let me finish my point” helps the case and sometimes even a separate chat with a repeated interrupter post the meeting have helped ease things out. Being confident, certain & assertive in approach and tone, have helped me deal with this.

How would encourage more women and young girls into a male-dominated career?

I would ask them not to worry about gender too much and be confident, speak-up and have complete belief in their capabilities. Women play a huge role in encouraging other women in the workplace – towards that, having a mentor and sponsor with a genuine interest in your career also helps.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you ever had a mentor or do you mentor anyone?

 I’ve had some very helpful mentors throughout my career. They’ve helped me find my strengths and pushed me to focus on them. Having someone when you need advice or when you need vetting an idea is a blessing. I completely endorse the idea of mentoring. While I haven’t formally mentored anyone, there are many young hires who turn to me for advice and I participate actively in their professional coaching.

 If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

 When women speak up and look out for themselves, they don’t get branded as “too aggressive”. While it’s perfectly expected of men to be aggressive and this is even a celebrated behaviour at times, the same behaviour from women gets them branded as “too pushy”. When women look out for themselves, they get labelled as “too self-absorbed”. I hope this changes.

Also, research says that women are underrepresented at every corporate level and they continue to lose ground incrementally the more senior they become. This is a fact that needs to change.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement would have to be building my team up from scratch here. I started on my own, tasked with developing and driving the company’s strategy forward. A year after I started to expand my team and three years later, we now stand at 30. It’s really fulfilling to see the team working at their potential and it gives me the chance to work with and help young starters develop in their careers.

What are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I hope to contribute to the world of financial technology through continuous innovation while keeping a consumer-centric approach.