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F in Fintech: Interview with OakNorth’s Valentina Kristensen

Hotwire Global

To kick off our ‘F in Fintech’ blog series, we asked panellists from our first ‘F in Fintech’ event in London to interview the panellists for our upcoming event.

Below we asked Fintech influencer and Director of Content and Fintech Ecosystem at VC Innovations Liz Lumley to interview Valentina Kristensen, Director of Growth & Communications at OakNorth.

What’s the best part of your job?

The part of my job that I love the most or find the best is being given the opportunity to meet such a broad range of people – whether it’s the media, policy makers from the Treasury, Department of International Trade, or regulators (both domestic and international), other Fintechs who we might be partnering with, international banks who are interested in licensing our platform, or entrepreneurs that OakNorth Bank is lending to.

Do you think Fintech can be a force for good? How?

Absolutely – there are several companies who have already proven this. Whether it’s by providing small and medium-sized businesses with access to finance (which in turn leads to job creation, new homes, and economic growth), enabling consumers to more effectively manage their finances, giving savers access to more competitive rates and more transparency on where their money’s being invested, ensuring more people are saving for retirement, preventing consumers from paying extortionate exchange rates, bringing the “underbanked” or “unbanked” into the banked demographic, creating more financial inclusion, encouraging incumbents / traditional institutions to improve their practices, etc. The examples are endless and we’re still very much at the beginning…


What advice would you give a young woman who may not be having the best experience with her Fintech career?

Well it depends on why she’s not having the best experience with her Fintech career. Is it down to someone she’s working with or the team she’s on? Is it that she’s not found the niche of Fintech that really floats her boat? Fintech is so broad – challenger banks, pensions, wealth management, investment, payments, etc. If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, see what else is out there.


What was the biggest lesson/challenge you have had in your career?

The biggest challenge for me in my first few years of working was in not being able to separate work and life, and the biggest lesson for me as I got more experienced was realising that I shouldn’t have to. This is because for me, it’s not about having a work/life balance, it’s about having a work/rest balance. My career is a huge part of my life – I love it. It makes me happy and proud and fulfilled and I couldn’t imagine life without it. I think it should be like that for everyone – you will spend about 75% of your waking life at your job, so if you don’t love it, then what’s the point?


What’s your unicorn startup idea?

I have lots of ideas, but I don’t know if any of them are unicorn ones! If I ever take the very courageous leap into entrepreneurship, I’ll focus on building a business that delivers value to the end user, rather than focusing on the valuation. If it manages to get to $1bn+, great, but that won’t be my priority.


What book is in your carry on case right now?

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou. I watched the HBO documentary “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley” on a flight from Hong Kong recently and was absolutely fascinated by the Theranos story, so immediately went and bought the book!

You can hear Valentina and our other panellists debate topics on diversity in Fintech, investment and technology on July 10th in our London office. RSVP here.