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Female Founders financial services Interview Interviews The Other 50 podcast Theodora Lau

women financial services Theodora Lau The Other 50 podcast


Interesting interview with regular Irish Tech News contributor Theodora Lau.

What is your background briefly?

My background is engineering – and I worked in IT in telecom industry for 20 years, before stumbling upon the HealthTech startup scene, and eventually ended up working with non-profit, financial institutions, and FinTech startups. I have always been fascinated by technology and our relationship with it. My prior life in IT was mostly around big system deployment, and leveraging technology to provide a consistent customer experience across channels. I can’t believe that we are still talking about 360 degree view of customer more than two decades later!

Does it seem like a logical background to what you do now?

In some ways, yes. Telecom industry is highly regulated. At the time when I was still working in the industry, we went through different cycles of “transformation” – from both technology and business model perspectives; from landline to mobile – from CLEC (competitive local exchange carrier) to MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) – from 3G to 4G/WiMax/LTE. I went through iterations of system architectures where we would have multiple “versions” of the same customer residing in different databases. Imagine trying to create API layers to connect these systems together!

I see quite a bit of parallels between what the telecom industry went through – and what banking is going through now. Just look at the mobile landscape today – how much of what we do (and expect) is driven by our devices and their operating systems, versus the mobile carrier? Our experience is much defined – and differentiated – based on the handsets we carry (e.g. iPhone versus Android); whereas the carrier is pretty much just the pipe behind the scene. Will banking eventually end up with the same fate?

Interview with Theodora Lau, The Other 50 podcast cofounder

1 min pitch for what you are doing now?

We are wrapping up an extremely eventful year. We have had the privilege of being part of many events around the world, learning from different fintech ecosystems from the East to the West, and sharing our thoughts on how to make banking better. We recently launched a new season of our Rhetoriq podcast – called “The Other 50”, featuring amazing women in the financial services industry, with topics from payments, financial inclusion, artificial intelligence, to cybersecurity, and beyond. Our goal is to highlight the work that these women are doing in our ecosystem and to celebrate the value that each person is bringing to our industry. We hope that their inspirational stories would guide us to look beyond gender.

Tell us about Unconditional Ventures, how do you help clients?

We provide strategic advisory services to a broad set of corporates; we advise startups and provide mentorship to entrepreneurs from different accelerators and incubators. Our goal is to drive innovation to improve systematic financial wellness, with the belief that anyone with great ideas should have a chance to succeed, regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background.

Why did you get involved with Bradley Leimer, how do you complement each other / what aspects does he focus on & which do you cover?

I think quite a bit has to do with timing; we were both going through changes in our careers and wanted to do embark on a more rewarding and impactful journey. We both have strong opinions about things that we care deeply about – it just seem natural that we should join forces (and minds). Bradley has deep expertise in banking, whereas my focus is more on longevity and inclusion. We complement each other in many ways (including our personalities), and we are not afraid to challenge each other – which I believe is important in any partnership.

If it all goes well what are your plans for 1 – 3 years time with UVs?

That is always a difficult question to answer, isn’t it? Obviously, I’d like for us to continue to take on more clients and meaningful projects. Championing change is always hard – but I feel fortunate that we have met quite a few like-minded people along the way. If we are successful in our mission, we would see more financial institutions (incumbents and startups) focusing on the needs of the forgotten demographics (for example, older adults, gig workers, and women) and building sustainable and inclusive business models. The question should not be “why” we need to change – but “how”.
(Now I feel like Frodo Baggins embarking on his quest to Mordor.)

How can people find out more about you personally & your work?

We speak quite often at industry conferences around the world – and we always appreciate the opportunity to share our thoughts. You can learn more about some of the work that we do and topics that we care about by subscribing to our podcast Rhetoriq, which we cohost with our partner at Green Shores Capital in London. We are very active on social media – both Twitter (@psb_dc and @leimer) and LinkedIn, so you can certainly follow us there.

We also post regular updates (including new articles, podcast episodes, and events) on our corporate website at https://www.unconventionalventures.com/. And thanks to your help and steadfast support, we host our weekly blog hosted right here on Irish Tech News. See many examples here.

You love to take pics, how does it help your headspace?

I do love taking pictures, mostly on nature, architecture, and food. We all need to take breaks from our digital lives, and spend time to look up, instead of looking down. Observing what is going on around us gives me an immense appreciation of our planet and our humanity. As Joyeeta Das, one of our podcast guests, once said, “Homo sapiens is one species; we share one world – we are in this together.” We need to find more ways to connect – with each other – with ourselves – and with our environment. Photography is a great way to achieve that.

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Drop us a line if you want to be featured, guest post, suggest a possible interview, or just let us know what you would like to see more of in our future articles. We’re always open to new and interesting suggestions for informative and different articles. Contact us, by email, twitter or whatever social media works for you and hopefully we can share your story too and reach our global audience.
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