Veronica Melendez

My name is Veronica Melendez. I’m originally from El Salvador, where I pursued my bachelor’s degree in business and quickly moved into the international space continuing my studies in Spain, France and the UK. 

I started my career in business and financial roles and one day, I stumbled upon a position in the payments industry. I cannot describe how much I loved this fast-paced industry and I decided to continue my career on this path in fintech.

Today, as Head of Payments at Recharge.com, my responsibility is to improve the overall payment and fraud prevention performance in our brands and enable our customers to purchase our branded payments in a fast, simple and safe way.

At the moment, I am working on exciting projects that will help our business to scale up, reduce time to market to offer new payment methods to our customers in new country launches and best orchestrate all the flows in payments and risk to get the highest acceptance at the lowest costs.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

I have taken the time to plan my career a couple of times because I am the kind of person that believes that we should always start with a goal in mind. However, life is always unpredictable, and by allowing myself to explore new things that were not part of that plan, taking challenges outside of my comfort zone and challenging the status quo,  I discovered what my skill set was, which things I am good at, and which things I am not good at all.. In the fintech industry I found something I was passionate about.

Having said that, I had to put that career plan aside and enjoy the ride, adapting to the circumstances and identifying and grabbing opportunities as they came.  Sometimes it turned out to be even better than I’d planned.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Yes, I think we all do. From getting a promotion, leading former peers, being the only woman sitting in a leadership group to finding the right career path and working in a multicultural environment… I think there is no ending when it comes to challenges, but I like to see the positive side of things. Good challenges are what makes us grow, not only as a professional but also as a person. What has always helped me is to give a step back, look at the big picture and analyse the situation as if I were a stranger. Then, just be humble — recognise when I made a mistake and learn from it. Take one step at a time and keep moving. Never stop.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I believe every single step in my career has been an achievement.  But being able to launch my career at an international level really gives me a sense of satisfaction. I’ve been able to meet incredible people along the way, from many different cultures, backgrounds, and ways of seeing life.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Finish what you start. Never stop — take small steps but keep going. A lot of people have great ideas, but they quit when things start to get complicated. If you hold on, you’ll be amazed by what you can accomplish. There is a quote by Nelson Mandela that I really like: ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done”.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology? 

Don’t be afraid to fail. It’s important to try, fail, and try again. Always be curious — keep yourself updated on what’s happening and try to understand how technology works in this ever-evolving industry. Take short courses, cultivate yourself, and keep learning.

Be aware of what — and who — surrounds you. Join a community and network; you’ll find great minds that can support you but also challenge you for the best.

Most importantly, embrace change. Nothing changes as fast as tech — no two days look the same in this industry. Be proactive and part of the community that makes this happen.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Yes, I believe there has been a lot of progress made, but there’s still room for improvement. I can mention a few but today I’ll stick to one: the biggest barrier we need to break is inside our own head. Women need to break free from the mental barriers that can hinder us from success. For example, the belief that only men can take risks…  I don’t see any barrier that women cannot overcome if we set our minds for success.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

I believe there are active ways in which companies can support the careers of women in technology, such as promoting gender equality and fostering an environment that fights for that; awarding salaries based on capabilities and skills rather than gender; being proactive in recruiting women for roles where they are underrepresented or prioritising career paths for women in the industry to help them get there…

But on top of that, it is of the utmost importance to create inclusive workspaces for everyone whose passion is technology — safe workspaces for both women and men. Condemn bullying, mobbing, sexual harassment. If we want our women to dare to take risks, to go outside of their comfort zone, then we need to promote a safe and inclusive workspace. All your employees and your company as a whole will benefit from it.

There is currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry? 

I would give all of us women the confidence in knowing we have the skills and abilities to succeed in technology; the confidence that women can create and make a long-lasting impact. I know I’ve been asked to think of one thing, but I have two — the second is that I would provide girls at a young age with tools to access and discover the tech world sooner. Basic courses, free courses, devices, workshops, and tech summer camps that can otherwise feel out of reach to young girls; early exposure and access to the industry can help many young women decide to pursue a career in tech when their time comes.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

• TED talks. I love them. You can find talks about pretty much everything and also find inspiration in every single one of them.

• Networking events, communities, and tech conferences can be key in providing insight and support.

• There are a lot of courses on platforms such as Coursera and Platzi

• Books — The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo was particularly insightful to me