“Skills can be learned, but values and character matter most,” Ghela Boskovich on #WomenInTech
First published on Finovate on 29 August 2018.
“Don’t tolerate disrespect or discrimination against you or anyone else. Don’t wallow in imposter syndrome because someone gaslights you. Don’t apologize and don’t explain/justify/mitigate your existence in the room. Be accountable, and hold others accountable for themselves.” Ghela Boskovich, head of fintech/regtech partnerships, Rainmaking Innovation, spent the last ten years focused on business development for core insurance and banking system solutions, and is the founder of FemTechGlobal that bridges the gender gap in fintech and the financial services industry. We speak to her about her career, inspirations and advice for fellow #WomenInTech.
Finovate: How did you start your career?
Ghela Boskovich: In grad school, unbeknownst to me, my committee chair put me forward for an internship with the state utility commission. The phone call telling me I got it was a total surprise. That started my journey into rate-of-return and pricing regulation modeling. My career took a bit of a detour from regulatory analysis, but the path eventually lead to being involved in tech business development. Exposure to core policy admin systems for insurance bled into dynamic pricing solutions for financial services. Pricing, for me, came full circle. It introduced me to the ins and outs of core banking systems, strategies for product development, looking at the whole architectural landscape of product workflows and processes. It was the beginning of my love affair with fintech. Now with regtech playing such a key role in the industry, my career-long romance with regulatory and policy impact is in full bloom.
Finovate: What sparked your interest in fintech?
Boskovich: I was head hunted to join a fintech dynamic pricing solution company to help build out the business pipeline. Fintech, as a hashtag, was still a nascent term at that time. My history with pricing modeling and the fact that I was working with tech that automated relationship pricing created an atmosphere for my curiosity to flourish. I had the perfect perch from which to see how systems, data, modeling, product and customer all fit into a puzzle; pieces which could take different shapes depending on how they were deployed or organized. That puzzle fascinates me, and now all I do is play with these puzzle pieces.
Finovate: What was your lightbulb moment?
Boskovich: There are a few moments in my life when the spotlight suddenly shone on truth, but most of the time it’s little candles that have flickered here and there, one or two being lit by a conversation with colleagues and peers, that combined to eventually light up the room enough to remove the shadows in the corners: the slow dawning of realization. Oddly enough, most of those have revolved around language, grammar, and sentence construct. I see fintech as an alphabet of sorts, piecing it together to craft a sentence (workflow) that has meaning (purpose and output/product and service). The tech itself is built by (logic) language, the way it integrates and speaks to other systems is a communications structure. It all maps back to that, and we’re in a position to refine the language of financial services through fintech.
Finovate: What inspires you?
Boskovich: Language. I adore language and its power, and how the careful, conscious use of language can inspire others. Language of course is a double-edged sword, it can be the most beautiful, constructive, inclusive thing, or it destroys, condemns, and reveals the ugliness inside. Lately I’m trying to pay attention to the former use of language, and in our industry I’m seeing more and more of it inspiring people to be open to change, embrace diversity, and include others who’ve previously been on the sidelines. The language of collaboration is inspiring: improving service through fintech collaboration, expanding inclusion to reach the un- and underbanked, empowering through personal insights with an aim towards financial health. How we talk about our industry is becoming more positive, and that is inspiring.
Finovate: Why is the #WomenInTech movement important?
Boskovich: Taxation without representation is tyranny. At the fundamental level of social organization, the notion that anyone would submit to a government taxation scheme without due representation is antithetical to the idea of democracy. That’s how I see #WomenInTech: a push towards fair representation and say in how tech is deployed, especially as tech as policy is a reality. Women are 51% of the population, and women control 80% of (all and any type of) household discretionary spending. We are a distinct minority in deciding how the money system is designed or run, it impacts us disproportionately to our representation in the industry. That smacks of tyranny. There are myriad business cases for women in tech, so if we’re driven by ROI, there’s justification aplenty. There is, however, a more fundamental reason: representation and justice.
Finovate: What piece of advice would you give women starting their careers in fintech?
Boskovich: Find your tribe. Seek out those that would challenge your assumptions, those who will teach you, and those who will encourage you to do the crazy, irrational, new thing – but who have similar core values and respect for others. They are out there, and they’ll be the best safety net and cheerleading squad you could ask for. Don’t tolerate disrespect or discrimination against you or anyone else. Don’t wallow in imposter syndrome because someone gaslights you. Don’t apologize and don’t explain/justify/mitigate your existence in the room. Be accountable, and hold others accountable for themselves. Fintech is like any other industry (albeit with a dearth of women), and like in any other industry, skills can be learned, but values and character matter most.