“I’m essentially an internal ambassador, helping Intergiro keep its innovative edge”
Elise has been at Intergiro for over a year, but her passion for its products long predates her starting date.
How long have you been at Intergiro?
I officially joined in October 2021, but I had been hearing about Intergiro for years before. I had been involved in some projects that used Intergiro’s services, but I hadn’t met anyone from the team in person. But in 2020, just before COVID happened, I happened to be at an event that was also attended by Nick [Root, CEO of Intergiro]. And I was like, “I’ve been waiting for a company like yours to do this for 10 years!” When I had previously built my own payments platform, I really struggled because there were no APIs, and besides the tech limitations, the biggest hurdle for a fintech company is the regulatory aspect. The fact that Interigro had easy APIs to get up and running, but a regulatory licence all across the EEA, was a dream come true. When I saw that, I was just so excited because I knew the struggles first-hand.
Intergiro’s APIs were getting more and more developed, so I studied them more to incorporate them into another project in which I was an acting CTO. I began to realize how powerful these services and tools were, and it went even beyond what I had been involved with in the USA. There I had been working on co-brand loyalty programs, where it was really about totally embedding the experience of finance. A couple of years went by and I started to really think about the greater ecosystem, so in 2021 I was like, “Hey guys, I really love what you do. Can I join?”
Could you share a little about your background?
I grew up in Boston, where I also completed an undergraduate degree in political science and international studies. After that, I went on to work selling VISA cards, and then with top 10 banks in the USA. Along the way I worked at a bunch of startups. And basically I’ve always been very interested in education, women, and financial inclusion. I’ve always really believed in helping other businesses take off. This is perhaps a more philosophical insight into my background, but I personally really see the importance of business in terms of building up civil institutions and a safer, more prosperous world.
I’ve traveled a little bit as well, so I’ve had the chance to see how different things are in Europe versus the US versus the Middle East.
In a few sentences, what do you do?
I consider my role to be the person that helps to bring projects to life, by being the point person for companies that have a goal and a vision and ensuring that they go live with that using our services. That’s what I’m focused on, as well as their success. I really love to talk to people, to network, to see potential collaborations as well as the pain points. I not only think in terms of products and services but I also think about the bigger picture. It’s so crucial to listen to people and to companies. There’s tech for everything, it’s just a matter of asking what’s the best way.
What I currently do is work with a lot of companies that are using our embedded finance services. I get to accompany them on their journey from kickoff, where they ‘plug in’ to the APIs, and work with them to get them launched. That includes anything from their own card program to making sure that their entire user story, experience, interface, etc., that it all works well with embedded finance. It’s an intense role but in a really good way. I feel like a ‘partner of the partners’.
Can you give me a rundown of your average day at work?
A usual day starts by either getting on Slack or checking if there are some messages on WhatsApp. I want to be reachable, so I like checking in to see if any of our partners have sent in questions. Making sure their questions are addressed is my first priority of the day.
And then a typical day for me – and I love this – is that no day is the same. This role is an adventure because no day is the same. We work with many different teams, both internally and externally, which makes it very fast-paced because basically we’re moving money with code. Every day we work on something different, but a usual day will include conference calls with partner companies and their tech teams. It’s amazing to see when the magic happens, as the business team comes together with the tech teams of these companies and suddenly they’re implementing and they launch, and I get to see all the different aspects come together. It’s not just about plugging in and moving on. It’s really about making sure that everything is aligned, whether it’s marketing and PR or the legal and finance teams. So fundamentally a usual day involves a lot of calls and thinking creatively.
Seeing as you have so many tasks, what are your favourite aspects of your role?
One of my favourite things is seeing the ease with which fintechs can go live with our APIs. I love to just see it come to life that way. I always feel like a little kid on Christmas Day, or that I’m walking into a Parisian pastry shop. I just get starry-eyed.
The other part that I really like is working with people. At the end of the day it’s about working with great people, in addition to great products. I get to work with very motivated people in this ecosystem, with lots of visionaries and leaders. And I love that you really need to be a team player in this role. We’re the bridge between internal teams and our partners, and feeling like part of this big, unified team is really good.
Finally, I think what makes the work challenging is that we’re almost like a refining stone. Sometimes our partners want something, but because we work with so many other departments, it needs to get refined further before they can proceed. We’re almost like internal ambassadors who get this airplane view of our partners’ businesses, and try to make sure it’s clear to all different internal stakeholders. We’re innovative, which means we’re not going to get stuck on what we developed for products yesterday. We take in feedback and improve and remain open to ideas, because these partners of ours are on the ground and in direct contact with our clients. It’s interesting to see that full cycle and bring it back internally, it really helps us to keep an innovative edge.
And what’s your favorite part of working for Intergiro?
I like knowing that my values are aligned, and that I’m surrounded by great people. It really feels like we’re a meritocracy, and not working within a typical corporate, top-down approach. I think that at the end of the day, that’s what needs to happen for innovation to take place and to better human society.
Could you expand on Intergiro’s values?
I mean that it’s all about the idea, that’s really refreshing. I remember my first days working in corporate banking. I had an idea, and not at all a bad idea! It was about putting your pet on a co-branded card so you could get points if you spent money on pet food, or the vet, or other related purchases. I remember I proposed that and the feedback I got was, “Sure Elise, when pigs will fly!” Which is funny because one or two years later, pigs did fly and we got that account. And I was really happy. I think my dog was really happy too!
I think when I talk about values, it’s about the welcoming of ideas. And in terms of the leadership in our company, it really transpires to our products and services. I’ve talked often about democratization of finance and financial inclusion. Being open and inclusive is really important.
What has been your best day here?
I have a couple. One was the day that Intergiro made it onto TechCrunch news, when we decided to ‘decloak’. It was awesome to see our story shared with the world. And this is probably going to beat that, but it’s when we won The Europas award, because that for me was a celebration of our entire team effort. All the blood, sweat, tears, and glory. It was great to see that vision shared with the rest of Europe.
How has your career developed since joining Intergiro?
I’ve really been grateful to expand what I feel like is my ‘why’ throughout Europe. That has really helped me to grow and to go further on my path. I think a lot still needs to be done in the fintech space, but I’m very grateful for this opportunity.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yes, I’d like to talk about one other thing I really love about Intergiro! We really make it a point to be inclusive. Most fintechs it’s just one type of person, but what I really love about us is that we have a pretty even split between men and women on our teams. It’s important that we make a conscious effort to do that, because there’s so much talent out there. It’s important as leaders in the space to promote that as well.