In this exclusive interview, Academic Director at Lagos Business School (LBS), Professor of Information System, Olayinka David-West explained how academia and research provides the evidence base required for decision making by policymakers, the financial service industry and customers. Excerpt.
How crucial is your role in the growth and development of FinTech in Nigeria?
Research and academia have always been an important pillar of any growing ecosystem. The ability to bring thought leadership drawn from diverse markets, industries and local experiences provides great insights necessary for ecosystem development. Academia and research also provide the evidence base required for decision making by policy makers, captains of the financial service industry and even customers. Hence the ability to engage and share this knowledge across various actor groups in an unbiased manner is central to ecosystem development.
What is your relationship with the FinTech industry?
I think most of us have relationships with the Fintech industry, due to our role as consumers of their products and services. Secondly, I lead a research and advocacy initiative that engages regularly in research incursions into the financial service ecosystem, with the aim of understanding the value offerings and business models of existing actors and engaging with different groups to foster collaboration. Third, I serve as a non-executive director of a Fintech business. I also represent Lagos Business School in the Fintech Association of Nigeria (FTAN).
Do you consider yourself a FemTech in FinTech?
I wouldn’t limit myself to Fintech as my interests and engagements have gone beyond Fintech. So I believe I am a female in the ever-expanding technology industry or “FemTech” as you call it.
Would you say working for a bank is different from working for a Fintech firm or a startup?
Most definitely, from different perspectives. While the work may be the same, the other elements to the organization such as the values and culture are differentiators that shape the way work is done, how relationships are developed and so on. Fintechs also require a higher appetite for innovation and experimentation as they try to carve out the right business model.
Kindly share the biggest issues women are facing in the workplace?
I think one of the more challenging things for women in the technology workplace is timing. Technology services and the increasing pressure for them to be available on-demand may require long hours and late nights at work. This kind of demands is not exactly family-friendly for women with families.
Would you say women are underrepresented at the top of the corporate ladder?
There’s evidence to support there are not enough women in leadership positions across government and business.
How have you faced any gender-related obstacles in your career?
Managing work-life balance is a big deal now. How do you create a balance?
Work-life balance has always been an integral part of the culture at Lagos Business School. For us, it’s not a new phenomenon. While the world is always active, I strongly believe we need balance across all the dimensions of our lives – social, emotional, physical and spiritual. And because I consider them all important, I make time out for each dimension.
How would you mentor women who are in your present position?
There are few women in my present position, but mentoring women in tech is really about being a role model to the various young women who want to impact and change Nigeria using tech. Young women in tech need people they can count on for support, advice and sometimes, a leg in the door via recommendations due to the underrepresentation mentioned earlier.
What is the best advice you ever received?
Don’t get ahead of yourself!
Who do you admire most in the FemTech in FinTech space?
I admire many engaged women in Fintech and other industries for different achievements.