Women in Fintech: Meet the Mentors

It’s no secret that the fintech industry is male dominated. In fact, according to Callaghan Innovation only around 14% of technology companies have female CEOs, and this drops to around 5% in high technology companies. Diversity of viewpoints and backgrounds is one of the keys to innovation success so our challenge for the Kiwi FinTech Accelerator 2019 is getting this balance right. 

One approach is to get women who are already smashing it in the fintech space to get alongside our female founders. We caught up with two of our 2019 female mentors Shez Lakhu and Gopika Gnanakumar to find out more about them, what makes them trailblazing women in the Fintech industry, and why they chose to get involved with the programme. 

 

Shez Lakhu is the Senior Pricing Modelling and infrastructure manager at Westpac. With a background in consulting, financial services and Fintech startups, Shez’s expertise in the industry is vast, proving to be extremely valuable for the teams she is working with. 

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada and have recently relocated to Auckland. 

I come from a Management Consulting background, where I worked for various Fortune 500 Canadian and US clients.  I then stumbled upon a career in Financial Services and worked for Canada’s largest bank (Royal Bank of Canada), delivering Strategy consulting services.  I quickly discovered the world of FinTech and pursued a career for a Silicon Valley-based FinTech, Nomis Solutions, where I led the Professional Services team and was pivotal in growing the Canadian office 5x within a 5 year span.  I’m now working with Westpac NZ assisting them in implementing FinTech solutions and serving as a mentor with the Kiwi FinTech Accelerator program. 

Throughout the years I have been well connected in the FinTech ecosystem in Toronto and am now keen on planting my roots within the New Zealand FinTech ecosystem.

 

What is your role in the Kiwi Fintech Accelerator programme?

I’m serving as a mentor for an up-and-coming FinTech (look out for them) – Miuwi.  I have also been collaborating with a few other FinTechs within the Accelerator program to help provide strategic guidance across data analytics, pricing and commercialization of their products and services.

 

What are you most excited about for the Kiwi FinTech Accelerator 2019?

I can’t wait to watch the journey with these talented FinTechs unfold.  I’m excited and honoured to be a part of writing history with them. I thrive off their energy and perseverance and have no doubt they will come out of this 12 week Accelerator program with much more than they expected!

 

What advice would you give the teams participating in the programme?

Keep up the passion and drive and continue to believe in yourself – the journey is the best part!

 

Gopika Gnanakumar is the principal advisor for department of internal affairs. With a background in law and chartered accountancy, she advises government on digital rights, ethics and digital investment, proving valuable for our teams who are interested in that space. 

 

Tell us a bit about yourself 

I’m a Principal Advisor at the office of the Government Chief Digital Officer. I’m a trained lawyer and chartered accountant by profession. I spend most of my time these days providing advice on digital rights, ethics and digital investment for the government.

I’ve had previous roles at the New Zealand Treasury, Ernst & Young UK, PwC New Zealand and ASB Bank Ltd. I started my career in financial services tax structuring and recently switched to the public sector to work on public policy and strategy for the digital era.

 

What is your role in the Kiwi FinTech Accelerator programme? 

I am the key advisor for Fund a Future, one of the teams in this year’s programme. 

 

What are you most excited about for the Kiwi FinTech Accelerator 2019?

I’m looking forward to seeing the growth of some new ideas and technologies.

 

What advice would you give the teams participating in the programme?

Work hard but don’t forget to enjoy the journey and look after your wellbeing in the process!

 

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