Written by Sasha Pilch, Sales Lead at Pinwheel.
I’m very grateful to the strong women and male allies who are helping bring about gender equality within the fintech Industry, and who played a large role in my journey to Pinwheel.
For the first decade or so of my career, I worked for large banks: Citi in London and CBA in Sydney. I learned a lot, including how traditional banks were ripe for disruption from a customer centricity perspective. I also witnessed the complete lack of diversity within senior leadership roles. At the end of my banking run, I became fed up with the antiquated products and hiring approaches. I took a vacation to Cuba and by the end of the trip, I couldn’t face going back to my role at the bank. I asked my boss if I could extend and go to NYC for a week.
I somewhat randomly attended a fintech meetup one evening, and I instantly realized how huge the opportunity was here. I called my boss back the next day, resigned, and started looking for new roles in fintech. A few weeks later I landed what ended up being a dream job: selling Quovo to fintechs that were making all aspects of financial services simpler, be it checking and savings accounts, payments, personal loans, credit cards, mortgages or wealth management.
I was so excited to be working in fintech but less excited about the same old lack of diversity. So I co-founded NYC Fintech Women with Michelle Tran, an organization with the mission to connect, promote and empower women to advance their careers in fintech. We wanted to address the gender inequality that exists in our industry and we never expected the impact to be so significant. Our first event was just 16 women in a bar. Since then, we have held events with 70 of the top fintechs as well as tech giants such as Google, rang the bell at Nasdaq, and surpassed 6,000 members (including many male allies). A huge factor in this success was the support from Lowell Putnam while at Quovo and Paul Williamson while at Plaid. I feel lucky to have worked for leaders who are fair and open minded.
During this time, Plaid acquired Quovo and scaled significantly. I found myself working for an extremely well oiled machine. I wanted to develop rapidly again, have flexibility and decision-making power so I took the role as the first sales hire at Ramp. My time there gave me the confidence to take the next step up and become a Sales Leader. Payroll connectivity was the obvious choice. Considering my bank account connectivity experience at Plaid and Quovo, I was approached by all of the players in the space. After evaluating these options, I decided on Pinwheel considering the team’s expertise, transparency with clients, and longer term vision to make payroll connectivity ubiquitous. The most important factor though was that I would be working for a female exec who I had complete faith in to drive the company to huge success, Lauren Crossett.
It’s exciting knowing that the company I work for is making financial services even more efficient and is so focused on our vision of building a fairer financial future, through our product and as we grow the company. Through Pinwheel’s API, users can switch their paycheck direct deposit to their neobank account in seconds. The friction in applying for a lending product is also removed as the user no longer has to tediously provide documents which show their Income and Employment, and lenders can use the wealth of information in a payroll account to reduce risk and offer fairer interest rates. Internally, the team has also prioritized living up to this mission as we grow. We have taken steps to improve our recruiting practices and internal processes to foster a diverse, equitable, inclusive culture. In the month that I’ve been here we have received numerous messages from our CEO Kurt Lin about his focus on building a diverse team and have even received a brilliant company wide DEI training from Lily Lamboy who led Diversity and Inclusion at Stripe and recently moved to Blue Shield.
It’s pretty cool to think that it was only 5 years ago that barely anyone had heard of Plaid and had certainly never entered their bank username and password on a fintech app. Not many people have heard of Pinwheel yet or logged into their payroll platform within their neobank’s UI. However, I truly believe that this is the next wave of innovation in fintech, and I’m thrilled to be part of the advancement. It’s also pretty cool to see how far we have come from a diversity perspective. I now work with a completely female sales team -- literally the exact opposite of how my career started -- and I’m excited to see our company and the industry continue to move in the right direction.