Hi Keshvi! Can you tell us a bit about what you do here at Allica?
My role is Head of Product for Payments. What that means in practice is that I’m leading the build of one of our new products – what will become our current account.
Day-to-day, that involves working with a team of engineers, designers and test analysts to shape the end product that we’re building, working towards an experience that our customers are going to love. Alongside that, there’s a lot of work with the broader business, making sure we aren’t building a product in a silo, and ensuring it fits into the broader Allica ecosystem. So that involves working with risk, compliance, data, finance… everyone really!
What does a typical day look like for you?
I tend to start around 8am – going through my inbox, getting organised before I start the day proper.
I then have two stand-ups – one at 9am and one at 9.15am – for each of our two squads.
We partner with quite a few suppliers, so that involves working through any issues and planning what’s coming up next. And as I mentioned, I collaborate with a lot of the other departments in the business, so I’ll have catch-up meetings with them to make sure they have everything they need to hit the ground running.
The rest of my day is then pretty fluid. If we’re moving towards the end of a sprint, then there’ll be a lot of work analysing what work should happen next, refining tickets and getting the work ready for the next sprint. I keep as much of my time as flexible as possible, allowing me to support the team in an agile way.
Tell us about your team.
We work in ‘squads’ here at Allica, and I lead two of them. They’re intentionally very cross-functional, including front-end and back-end engineers, designers and test analysts. This allows us to be independent and agile. Our central goal is to make sure that our product reflects the bank’s core mission, and to define how that cascades down into the day-to-day work. Delivering on our core goals and mission is one of Allica’s organisational cornerstones.
What I like about how we work is that it’s very democratic. Everyone is on the same level and has a voice. It’s a very open-minded way of working and encourages learning from others. At Allica, working collaboratively is one of our core values and it comes from the top down.
What led you to a career in product and in fintech?
On the product side, all through my life I’ve been plagued with this title of being a generalist and a very good all-rounder! Product is one of those roles that is perfect for a generalist – being a master of all trades, a product role really plays to your strengths.
In terms of fintech, I’ve worked in a lot of jobs supporting big financial companies, plus I also have a mathematical background. So, getting into finance and banking just made sense. However, I did find myself getting frustrated with all the bureaucracy and red tape in those larger organisations. Regulation and governance is important, but often the way that it’s implemented can be frustrating.
How did you end up at Allica Bank?
I was connected to Richard Davies, our CEO, on LinkedIn and I saw all the news around Allica. It looked very exciting and I could see that Allica were just past the point of being a start-up and moving towards scale-up. That for me is the exciting bit – when you have a fantastic idea, there are a few people that like it and you’ve got to work out how to turn that into something viable for a lot of people.
What job did you want to have when you were growing up?
I actually cycled through a lot of different ideas as a child. For a while, I wanted to be a dentist, don’t ask why! Then I considered architecture for a bit. All sorts to be honest.
You’re a passionate advocate of diversity and inclusion at Allica Bank. Have you faced these challenges yourself during your career?
It’s a tough question… I think I’ve actually been very lucky, as I’ve never come across any overt barriers to entry. Having said that, I think there are a lot of non-overt things that I have come across. Things that can have an impact over a long period of time. Stereotypes within the workplace – especially in client services – are still present. Things thankfully are changing and hopefully it will continue to move in a more positive direction.
How have you found Allica approaches these issues?
Since I joined Allica about a year ago, there’s been a growing interest and energy towards improving our diversity. People aren’t afraid to say ‘look, we’re not doing as well as we want to be’.
There’s a clear direction from the top, all the way down, to make a conscious effort and recognise where we need to improve. Even since I started, I’ve noticed a marked improvement and a lot more diversity in roles across the board.
What can fintech do to better improve diversity and inclusion in the sector?
As an industry, it’s getting better. For example, event panels are getting more diverse and organisers are going out of their way to make sure they have representative voices.
Diversity is especially important for a product-centric organisation where the thinking is that you build towards solving customer needs. You can’t do that if your workforce isn’t representative of your customer.
Any big projects you’re looking forward to?
The big one for me is our ‘Business Rewards Account’. It’s in beta at the moment, but I’m really looking forward to getting it into the hands of the general public.
Imagine, if you can, that covid didn’t happen. You’re given a week off and can go wherever you want. What would you do?
That’s easy – I’d go to Brazil. I had a trip planned to Brazil when the first lockdown came in, so if I had a week off now, I’d definitely go there. Who knows, maybe next February or March in time for carnival!
Finally, what would you say to someone considering a role at Allica Bank?
At Allica, what’s most important is your attitude. If you have the will, the drive, and an ability to deal with the unknown, you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn very quickly. That’s what we look for.
Allica is a fantastic place to be if you want to be at the cutting edge of fintech and doing something truly revolutionary for the SME market.
Fancy joining the Allica Bank team? We'd love to hear from you! Check out our careers page to find out how.