Today’s guest is Nicole Newlin. As vp of solutions at Ocrolus, which provides fintech infrastructure for data analysis, she runs the team that handles client onboarding and integration.
Nicole is also NYC Fintech Women’s newest board member. She describes her personal journey as a woman rising through the ranks within fintech. Nicole also shares her plans to extend NYC Fintech Women’s reach through things like education, community and coaching. I ask her for career advice she’d give her younger self.
I oversee the team that handles all of client onboarding and integration, as well as account management and client success. We’re the client-facing team at Ocrolus. It’s been a great opportunity to use a lot of my skillset.
I started out in brokerage and banking and wore a lot of different hats. It was great to see how these skills transitioned nicely into fintech. I found that a lot of the relationship management, organization and structure building was very valuable to fintechs.
I literally fell into fintech. I left the bureaucracy of large asset managers and decided to start consulting on my own. I was fortunate to have a lot of connections. A friend of mine was working at Quovo and they were looking for someone to help create structure around the large enterprise clients they were starting to bring onboard. I cut my teeth there, beginning as a consultant.
The first year was great — I learned so much. I stayed on through the Plaid acquisition. I thought to myself — this is where it’s at for me. I love it — I love the energy and the ability to create structure while maintaining flexibility and fun. I love the people I work with at Ocrolus. I can’t say enough about them.
NY Fintech Women
When I started at Quovo, we had a ton of talented young women who were just getting started in their careers. We started building an internal team that met regularly, talked, and hosted book clubs. We built an environment where we could have camaraderie. One of the women at Quovo, Sasha, was also the founder of NYC Fintech Women. I joined the organization because I was looking for a broader network for myself. I was looking for coaching, guidance and mentoring within fintech.
I started going to events. Last year, Sasha asked me to join the board to help built out the New York experience. It’s been a load of fun. We have over 5000 members now. I’ve never seen a group of women on the leadership team who work so hard and give so much to a volunteer organization. We have regular board meetings, our own Slack channel, and emails. We are constantly brainstorming ideas and coming up with the next thing we want to do for our members.
The challenges are similar in fintech. That was surprising for me. Coming from a traditional financial services background, I was used to being the only woman at the table. I thought that was what happened in that world. I made the assumption that in fintech and startups, it must be different. Everyone is so young and cool and they’re not worried about what we worried about in the traditional finance world. They’re thinking about clients and are focused on work culture.
It’s still similar in that when you go to hire, you look within the group you know — the board, your VC or your schoolmates. If you’re not recruiting outside your scope, it’s the same sort of scenario. That’s one part that surprised me.
No matter how hard we’re looking for women in engineering or data science, it’s hard to find diversity. It’s getting better but there’s still a lot of work to be done. We need to do a better job educating a diverse population.
Planning for the future
Like everyone else, we had big plans before the pandemic. We’re still very much interested in starting a San Francisco chapter. Education and helping people find jobs is definitely a focus.
In New York, we have talked a lot about expanding the mentor program. We’ve polled our members and talked to them, and everyone has a different reason that they’re coming to NYC Fintech Women. Some are looking to similar people in their age group, looking to network. We need to do a better job helping them.
Some are looking for jobs. We have helped connect people looking for jobs with people hiring. We have a job board that we are trying to make more innovative. We want to create opportunities to connect, so that it isn’t just a crapshoot.
We’re also exploring a whole virtual concept where we can collaborate with other organizations that can bring skillsets that we don’t necessarily have. Where we can do Ted Talks, roundtables, things of that nature in this virtual environment.
We built a mentoring program with Lendit that kicked off a couple of months ago. We also started office hours with one of our members who’s lead counsel to give legal advice to help our members thinking of starting their own companies. Maybe this kicks off another round of founder roundtables where those women looking for each other can find each other.
We have a lot of great women and data. Our focus is on how to better connect people so they get what they’re looking for.
Career advice to a younger self
A lot of women ask me about this. Don’ think people know what you want to do or what you’re interested in just based off your actions. I can think of a handful of times that I thought, I am just killing it. I’m doing everything that I’m supposed to be doing. I expected to get that next job or they will tap me for that project. I didn’t end up getting the opportunity and I found out later that no one knew that I had aspirations for any of the things I was conjuring up in my mind. I confused hard work and not speaking up — it should just be obvious to everyone.
It’s hard to put what you want out there. But just do it. What’s the worst that could happen? They’ll say no? Who cares. Your ego will be bruised? Who cares. Welcome to life. Looking back, I wonder if I had just said something, if it could have had a completely different type of ending.