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Looking Back at Money20/20 USA: Where Do We Go From Here?

The ‘Rise Up’ experience

I was fortunate enough, in addition to being able to attend various Money20/20 sessions, to have been asked to take part in the invite-only Money20/20 Rise Up program for a second time this year. Earlier this year, I was selected as part of the of Money20/20 Rise Up Asia cohort and this time around I was part of Money20/20 Rise Up in Las Vegas as a speaker and mentor, as well as a supporter of my colleague, Natalia Ruiz, who was selected to take part.

I was invited to speak on a panel with leading executives and CEOs from some of the biggest players in the financial industry, including Citigroup, MasterCard and Google. We discussed the impact of Rise Up and the benefits of being connected to this engaged network of executives. I pointed out how it helped lead me to new mentors and executive sponsors both within my organization and beyond. As we delved deeper into the topic at hand, “Leveraging Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace (to Overcome Diversity Issues),” I shared my advice for other women in payments, engineering and other male dominated roles, explaining that resilience, an essential skill in the emotional intelligence toolbox, is key. We will hear the word “no” and our valuable ideas may be rejected, but knowing we have the qualifications, the knowledge and the skill will be important. We must remain resilient and find a path of success in the face of adversity.

My fellow panelist Uzma Makhdumi (Google) shared advice that resonated with me and many others: “When I take a seat at the table, I don’t just do it for me. When I sit at the front of the room, put my hand up and ask a question as the only woman in the room, I do it for all other women.”

One Rise Up participant asked how to remain emotionally intelligent, while making sure not to be seen as just the ‘nice’ one in the room. Sharing my personal experience, I mentioned how I strive to remain true to myself, but also keep a track record of the successes I have achieved because I expect that nobody else will do that for me. I work on sharing these successes in regular discussions with managers, which serves as evidence of one’s professional accomplishments and will help pave the way for continued career growth and success.

The invaluable global connections made at the Rise Up conference extend to all levels and sectors of the industry, including corporate or start-up board members, C-suite representatives and established executives, and I encourage  women and men to take part in Rise Up if given the chance.

Inclusion is the name of the game

Looking back at the main stage discussions at Money20/20 USA and the discussions taking place on the show floor and in meeting rooms, it was evident that the theme of inclusivity prevailed. In terms of financial inclusion, there was talk of digital wallet services that intend to serve, reduce fees and provide interest-free micro loans for some of the 48.9 million adult consumers who are underbanked in the U.S. There were also challenger banks providing financial services for minority and women-led businesses that are not able to easily get funding otherwise. Per research from Morgan Stanley, while the equity investor’s median investment is roughly $1 million, that number drops drastically for women and minority-owned businesses, for whom median investments are roughly $213,000 and $185,000, respectively.

Discussion included potential blockchain models that aim to capture the market of 1.7 billion unbanked individuals globally and provide ease of funds transfers. Diversity and inclusion within the workplace were also related very hot topics, with the Rise Up sessions making it evident that the inclusion of women is necessary to drive innovation. The Rise Up program aims to feed women into the leadership pipeline to help address the pay parity and gender diversity issues that society sees today.

These numbers leave me pondering the potential inventions we are missing out on, the breakthroughs in research, and advancements in technology that we could have, if we seek to be truly and genuinely inclusive.

From morality to more innovation

While inclusivity may seem to be a message driven only by the moral compass of an individual or a business striving to do good, the effects extend beyond the discussion of morality. Those who do not see the opportunity to include groups of all backgrounds will miss out on potential business revenues as well.

Research conducted by Deloitte confirms that teams perform 17 percent better when they are led by inclusive leaders and eight times more likely to achieve business outcomes. Inclusion brings together people of various backgrounds and perspectives, driving higher levels of innovation if a safe environment free of unconscious biases is created.

Continuous innovation is a trait that is woven into the fabric of industry trailblazers as confirmed by the Culture of Innovation Index recently launched by ACI and Ovum. Remaining ahead of the game is especially necessary with new market entrants, M&A activity and the introduction of new technologies from existing industry players happening daily in the payments industry. Exciting, ever-changing times are here to stay, with the ability to be innovative and inclusive leading the way.

Senior Software Engineer

As a senior software engineer team lead, Rawan leads a development team at ACI and brings forth a decade of industry experience. She provides the needed analysis, solution design and guidance to enable some of the world’s largest banks to certify and go live with ACI's market-leading UP Retail Payments solution.