Amazons Thriving in Fintech

Spotlighting Four EPICC Interswitch Women

Oreoluwa Adeokun
Brands Associate
Mar 27, 2024 15 minutes, 50 seconds read
Oreoluwa Adeokun
Brands Associate
Mar 27, 2024 15 minutes, 50 seconds read

At Interswitch, inclusion goes beyond simply ‘opening doors’ for our women; it is about creating an environment where their voices are heard and valued at all levels, and cultivating a culture that ensures that everyone, irrespective of their gender, feels respected and valued to thrive.

In this edition of Switch Stories to commemorate Women’s Month, we have the privilege of chatting with four EPICC Interswitch women. (EPICC is an acronym that represents our core values - Ethical Conduct, People Empowerment, Innovation, Collaboration and Customer Success).

These exceptional women - Robinta Aluyi, Cassiel Obaedo, Majeedah Olatunde, and Adedoju Ajani have not only progressed through the ranks at Interswitch but have also excelled while at it.

As we chat with each woman about her journey, we delve into the importance of promoting an inclusive workplace; touch on improvements we must make as an organisation/ industry and share valuable advice for young women aspiring to build careers in technology. Join us as we explore their inspiring journeys and gain insights into creating a more inclusive world.

Divisional Head, Product Management

Cassiel Obaedo

Cassiel is the Divisional Head, Product Management at Interswitch. Since she joined in 2018 as the Unit Head, Financial Services, her career has taken many exciting turns. Amongst her many achievements at Interswitch is the successful delivery of Interswitch Energy, a platform that automates key processes within the downstream oil and gas industry, generating massive revenue for the company. People would describe her as blunt, because she always says her mind, playful, because to her, life is too short to be too serious; and determined - she always gets the job done.

How would you explain your job to a five-year-old?

I understand problems businesses face and I come up with the easiest, most pleasant way to solve the problem for that business in a way that makes them happy enough to pay money for that solution.

Would you say The Switch’s work on DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) has contributed to your career growth? If so, how?

When someone from Interswitch reached out to me via LinkedIn six years ago, I wasn't looking for a job, but eventually, I was recruited for the role of a Unit Head for the Financial Services team. We can call that ‘The Switch Effect’. At that point, I could tell that the organisation was not gender-biased; some other organisations would have preferred to have a man fill that leadership role.

I recall how impressed I was to see women doing exciting things every day. Women like Titi Shogaolu; Princess Edoosagie, Robinta Aluyi, just to name a few. I’d watch them go out into the field to promote financial technology, going to banks to secure deals and actively solving customer problems. These were the people making the moves and I found that very inspiring.

Interswitch is a place where you are appraised based on your capabilities. If you work hard, and meet all the relevant criteria, you move ahead. I’ve never at any point felt that my gender was a reason that I did not get a compensation or reward.

There are several women in influential positions; ‘Don Chi’, Cherry Eromosele, ICE Ediomo and the women I mentioned before. When there are strategic conversations, their opinions are sought after and when they talk, people listen.

It was really inspiring because coming in, it made me feel safe and has contributed to my confidence at work. Representation is important here and there is evidence. So even when the job gets tough, I have never found myself questioning if I came to the right company, I see women who call the shots every day and they do so with grace. This makes me keep pushing to do the best work because my gender has never and will never be a barrier to me advancing or progressing my career.

How do you believe leadership here and in other organisations can continue to ensure an inclusive culture and what impact does that have on the organisation generally?

We are doing a great job already. The policies at Interswitch are a testament to the fact. We currently have fantastic family friendly policies and the 3-month work from home post-maternity leave policy. As a woman, you are not scared to go and have a baby for fear of losing your job or not getting promoted. Your role is yours because you matter and Interswitch supports you. This is what it means to be inclusive, to understand that no one should have to sacrifice their personal lives for their career, they can have the best of both worlds! Companies must walk the talk and ensure their policies protect and support women.

At Interswitch, I think we must continue to share stories of the women who break barriers every day. Leadership should ensure that those women are recognised and visible. When we are intentional about this, it cascades down. People are always watching - whether we like it or not. Others need to hear more about how Interswitch removes the ceiling, it really is inspiring and will encourage all women to do more.

What advice do you have for women who want to get into tech?

If you are set on a tech career, you won't regret it. It's rewarding to solve problems for individuals and businesses using technology. The feeling of satisfaction from making someone else's life easier is unparalleled. I encourage young girls and women to join tech. Find a mentor, be dedicated, and have a passion for learning, as it never stops in this field. With these qualities, you will surpass all limits.

Vice President, Sales & Account Management

Robinta Aluyi

Robinta is the Vice President, Sales & Account Management at Interswitch. She joined the Switch in 2007 as the technical software analyst/engineer. After 16 years at Interswitch, when her colleagues are asked to describe Robinta, the usual response is “She consistently exceeds expectations”. Amongst her many accomplishments, she was responsible for successfully building the brand-new sales organisation, a fully operationalised and effective team in the Digital Infrastructure and Managed Services arm of Interswitch. Robinta is known for her ability to enable others to succeed. In addition, she is described as friendly, bubbly, and social.

How would you explain your job to a five-year-old?

I bring in the money!

You came in as a junior engineer, can you talk us through your journey at the switch?

When I joined as an engineer, I had an interview with Big Mitch (Mitchell Elegbe; GMD Interswitch) and he asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I responded: “Management”. That was my response because I had a trajectory mapped out for myself. Coincidentally, there were always opportunities where I was asked to take up a new role and I was never scared of trying. I moved from being an engineer to a Business Developer to Customer Value Management to Sales, and now I run the sales team within Systegra; Interswitch’s Digital Infrastructure and Managed Services (Systegra) arm. This role has been the most challenging because it was born out of a new structure. I had to build a brand-new sales team and I am confident to say that it is the best sales team at Interswitch today in terms of numbers, ensuring that Customer Success and Ethical Conduct are at the heart of what drives us. I am very proud of that but more importantly I am proud of the people I have empowered in my 16 years here.

What does Inspiring inclusion in the workplace and more specifically, in a fintech workspace, mean to you?

Inclusion means that you give women the opportunity to feel confident, to feel that they can achieve their aspirations. It is about giving women and everyone in addition, the opportunity to try things. I always tell people to not be afraid of trying. What's the worst that can happen? Inclusion is about ensuring that women in the workplace know that they can assess their strengths, convert them into tangible outcomes and own their turf. In turn, this encourages the woman to know that she can make strong decisions about her life and be confident in it. This is exactly what Interswitch has done for me, it has allowed me to build these qualities and I’ve also carried them into my personal life.

After being here for your sixteen years, how do you think we can improve and ensure we are constantly aiming to improve inclusion?

You never get to the end of it. I think more importantly, creating that social network or forum that gives people confidence to know what is possible as a woman; “Robinta was an engineer, now she heads a sales team”. It is possible and Interswitch has enabled me to do this without any hassle, not to say there weren’t challenges but I’ve overcome them. Many women here share similar stories of triumphs, we need to tell these stories.

Our policies here are great, but it doesn’t mean that we get comfortable, we can begin to explore more ways we can create a better workplace for women. We need to ensure that there are more spaces for women at the top, we do this really well at Interswitch, but it’s never enough. New people join every day, they come with their different perceptions of how it should be or how it was where they were. We need to continue to be consistent in showing where we stand as an organisation.

What advice would you give to young women who want to start a career in tech?

I remember the first time I mentioned joining Interswitch, my dad responded, “what's that?” He wanted me to work in Oil and Gas - all my sisters are engineers. Everybody wanted to be in Oil and Gas like him, but I thought to myself – “Oil and Gas is old! I'm an engineer, how do I go to this new tech environment?” The landscape was and still is changing, and it’s important to challenge oneself. Tech is the future and women must be part of that future, women must play in this role. So, you must be courageous, you must show up, shine, and excel in every role you are appointed in.

In addition, collaborate. Do not hoard information because when you give, you create space for more, so empower others around you, collaborate, teach, spread the word that it is possible! This is what will give the women after you the confidence to have a voice, play a part, exert their capabilities.

Show up well, do your part and leave the rest to God.

Merchant Acquiring Executive

Majeedah Olatunde

Majeedah joined Interswitch as a young impressionable member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). Now she has risen to a Merchant Acquiring Executive, leading a cluster within her team. Growing up amidst a culture that often overlooked the capabilities of women, her experience at Interswitch has transformed her outlook. Now, she champions inclusivity, recognizing the immense potential within every individual, regardless of gender. For her, true inspiration lies in fostering an environment where everyone feels seen, heard, and celebrated for their contributions—a vision she actively embodies in her daily work and leadership.

Three words that best describe you.

Fair, funny, reliable,

If you had to explain your job to a 5-year-old, how would you describe it?

The first thing I would do is take the child to a supermarket and when it's time to make payment on the POS, I would say, “You see this POS? My team is behind everything that happens on it to make sure we can pay for what we just bought”.

What does ‘inspiring inclusion’ mean to you?

For me, inspiring inclusion means breaking down the barriers and the stereotypes that women face and to create an environment where women are valued and respected.

Do you feel Interswitch is on the right path in terms of driving inclusion?

Absolutely! I say this because over the years, I've seen a lot of women in key positions at Interswitch. I see the likes of Princess Edoosagie or Oremeyi Akah and other female leaders, and I see that they are really doing great work. These are technical positions that people typically think are for men, but each of them is exceling in those positions.

Tell us about your career journey at Interswitch and how you think Interswitch has helped you thrive or progress.

I started here as an NYSC intern in 2018. So, I grew up in an environment where women generally don’t get to be involved in big things or hold high positions. I didn’t think I would get to do valuable work and get this kind of visibility as a woman, but it's been very different here. During my time here, it’s been a journey of growth, my role has continuously advanced, reflecting my career progression, and my insights are consistently valued. Interswitch demonstrates an ongoing commitment to people empowerment.

Please shed more light on how your career has progressed at The Switch since you joined.

After completing my Youth Service, I got confirmed into a full-time employee, and since then, my responsibilities have been evolved. From being a team member, I currently lead an internal cluster in my team. So, I would say that from being that girl who came with that odd mindset to managing my own cluster within the larger team, it has been an exciting journey. I really have been empowered to achieve my goals.

How do you see the future of The Switch evolving in terms of being more inclusive? Is there a specific role that you hope to play in this evolution?

Interswitch does a lot to drive inclusivity. When I walk around The Switch, I see people who look like me and I am proud of how far we have come. I also get to see different people in the office, especially ladies, dressed the way they want to dress and look the way they want to look. Now we have different people with different looks who are very confident in the way they show up. We recruit people based on the value they bring, not how they look. So, I believe we are already on the right path.

What advice do you have for young women who want to start a career in tech?

Tech is something that is constantly evolving, and you need to be abreast of the trends, you need to always learn. You need to always read, and if you are lazy, you will not be able to do that. So, the first thing I would say is don't be lazy. Also, I would say you should get a mentor.

Data and Analytics Lead

Adejoju Ajani

Meet Adejoju, who leads Data and Analytics at Interswitch. Since joining as a business analyst in 2019, she's ascended the ranks, fuelled by a profound belief: "If not a woman, why not a woman?" Adejoju embodies the essence of inclusive leadership, advocating for women empowerment at every career stage. Her journey is not just about personal success but also about fostering an environment where women are provided with the support and resources they need to thrive.

Three 3 words that best describe you.

Kind, passionate and diligent.

What does ‘inspiring inclusion’ mean to you?

Inspiring inclusion means empowering women and providing an enabling environment for a woman to thrive. Not necessarily providing equally, it’s more around equity. Today, if I notice there’s no woman involved in a project, I ask, “If not, why not? Was there no woman that was competent enough? Or was the opportunity just not extended to a woman?”

At every point in time, it's important that organizations are deliberate and conscious about the strategies that they put in place to include women. This will enable them to be well represented in every capacity. If companies focus on that, we will have more women represented at different levels, and more women will be encouraged to get into those spaces.

How has Interswitch’s work on diversity, equity and inclusion contributed to your career growth personally?

I work in an environment where my expertise and competencies are what matter and that’s how I am evaluated. Nobody discriminates against me in any shape or form, based on my gender. This is demonstrative of the mindset of the management team and policies that are put in place to encourage open communication, transparency, and collaboration and this goes a long a way in helping women thrive. I can tell you for a fact that on a daily basis, I feel supported and empowered.

For example, I can take an idea to my line manager, and my gender has nothing to do with whether they support my idea or not. They don't even see my gender. Also, when I need support in personal situations, health-wise or any other way, I am given the adequate time or support I need.

Even in terms of policies or initiatives within the company, there are various ones that have been made to support inclusiveness. For instance, I know that we have a lactation room for nursing mothers. I’m also aware that we have a creche arrangement in place.

So, the whole idea of opportunity is about showing up as your best self to do the job and getting all the support you need. This is one major way that working in this environment has helped me.

What advice do you have for a young woman who wants to start a career in tech?

First, believe that you can do it. Start with courage. That's my mantra. Many of us battle impostor syndrome, but it is very important to start with courage and then build confidence along the line.

There’s also the need to build capacity, and don’t be afraid to start small. Decide on the aspect of tech you want to specialize in, start researching around those topics and the skills that you need to learn.

It really helps to join communities. Many of them are free. Also find a mentor. I always say that mentorship is not always about some organized mentorship programme. Someone can be your mentor and not even know. You can be mentored from afar. You just need to model your life around how they seem to do their things and follow what’s working for them.

You also need to be live a life of continuous learning. You are in tech, and tech is very dynamic because things are always evolving. So, you must be open to continuous learning.

As this year’s Women's History Month is celebrated across the world, the achievements of our EPICC women serve as an inspiration for encouraging inclusivity in the tech industry and beyond.