In this sixth instalment of Spotlight on Diversity Champions, Nicole Anderson, Managing Partner at REDSAND PARTNERS, explains her drive behind emerging markets and tech, women's roles in FinTech, mentorship and leadership.
Having recently re-launched REDSAND Partners, what drives you and why the focus on emerging markets and technology?
I have worked in technology innovation for close to a decade and have been fortunate enough to be exposed to the most traditional hubs for innovation such as Silicon Valley, Israel and Japan.
However, in the last 5 years my focus has shifted to innovation trends and potential in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
"I am now determined more than ever that this is where the world can learn from new business models and not simply see these markets as high growth distribution opportunities."
When we talk of emerging technology – this is technology that is constantly evolving and is fractured. Meaning – its unshaped and open. This is providing immense opportunity for global innovation. The world of blockchain, crypto currency and token economy models are perfect examples of this.
I am close to obsessed with how these models are going to change the way we live our lives – learn, trade, communicate and prosper. I am fascinated by the devolution of power bases.
Governments and institutions challenged by technology democratisation and how that is challenging the financial, social and economic models of the previous decades and generations.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to take up a leadership position for the first time?
If you are given the opportunity to progress – take it. Its growth and all growth, whether upwards or sideways, is good.
"Don’t try to be perfect. Don’t try to be someone you are not as people see through that. Listen to others."
Have humility – keep learning, ask for help and admit when you are unsure of a decision. People admire that. Above all – do what you say you. Remember execution is everything in business and if you do what you say – you build your trust factor. That is gold.
What do you think about the role of women within Fintechs?
I am very clear on the topic of women in the workplace. And maybe this is controversial for many. But the sooner we adopt a gender-neutral stance to roles, pay, growth opportunity, the better. In finance and technology, women statistically do seem to be less prevalent. But that has many complexities and there are many reasons for that.
"FinTech represents an entrepreneurial opportunity for women."
Whilst it’s often risky and the effort in growing a young business is hard, you should never under-estimate the emancipation and potential it offers. Many women see this as a choice that offers them flexibility to combine family and work. And that’s great.
I do think women have a lot to bring to the experience, service and community models so evident in FinTech. And on the whole, women are great at getting things done, networking and providing balance to an executive team.
How did you get to where you are today, did you ever have a mentor?
"A lot of hard work, many dead ends, lots of sleepless nights and many many pivots."
The reason I put this out there, is to offer up the fact that entrepreneurial life is non-linear. When I left a corporate career, the unpredictability of this journey took a lot of getting used to.
But thankfully, I am very hard headed, driven and passionate about what I do. It’s life, not work for me. My team are like family to me.
"Mentorship is very useful and I have to say, I learnt that quite late on."
I haven’t taken advantage of having mentors but have acted as one many a time. But I do have great people around me that I can talk to and bounce ideas off. And that works well for me.
What is important to you about inspiring the next generation?
That is a big question. I think inspiration, at its heart, is enabling people to see their value, genius, unique talent and creativity. To get them to think in ways that are unshackled and to dispel fear. I hope that what I do and how I work goes some way to achieving that.
I do also think that this generation and those that follow have an immense opportunity to affect the world for the better.
"The qualities of collaboration and openness are much more evident now with the help of technology, as I said before."
This needs to be used for good. Transparency and fairness. Business needs way more of this.
If you would like to share yours or someone else’s story for the Spotlight on Diversity Champions blog series, please email email@example.com