Q&A with Nadia, Banking and Expansion Lead (Africa and Latin America) at Wise
To me, autonomy and freedom mean we have ownership over our work. It keeps us accountable for what we need to do and achieve. Having ownership instils the feeling of trust across our teams. As a team, we know best what we’re working on and the problems we’re trying to solve, so it’s that very team that should be making decisions. This way of working inspires me and makes me feel like I can and will figure out even the biggest of challenges.
Why did you join Wise?
I used to work in a mission-driven company where employees were passionate about having an impact, and I knew I wanted to work somewhere with a similar atmosphere. Throughout the interview process at Wise, I got the sense that people really want to make a difference here, and that got me excited.
The mission itself was also interesting for me. I’d been working in financial inclusion in the non-profit space, where access to finance was one of the primary focuses. So, this was a natural step – a job where I could bring financial services to more people around the world. This, along with the growth and scale at which Wise is operating, I couldn’t wait to get started!
In a nutshell, what do you do at Wise?
I’m responsible for our market expansion into Africa and Latin America. We build partnerships with banks and regulators so that we can bring our product to people around the world. In the regulatory space, it means getting licenses for Wise to be established and legally operate in new countries.
What’s the biggest challenge working here?
There’s lots of things happening and many different teams so information can be challenging to find. You need to get your hands dirty and figure things out for yourself as well as get to know people to find the information you want.
What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on?
Applying to participate in a regulatory sandbox in Colombia. I loved having the opportunity to work with a local bank and across Wise to brainstorm ideas and build a proposal to try to change a regulation to overcome a specific payment regulation there. We had to show the regulator why this was an issue for Colombians, how the regulation change could impact the country and what we envisioned being the appropriate solution.
Most interesting place you’ve used your Wise card?
Renting a car in South Africa.
What’s the most unusual job you’ve ever done?
When I worked at the World Bank, I supported an African government in reorienting their public budgets towards social programmes. The mission was to shift the focus to education, health and other social programs to encourage the human development of that country. Having insight into how public budgets were defined and allocated, and into the breadth of projects they were investing in was one of the most fascinating experiences in my career.
Tell us about something extraordinary you’ve done in or outside of work?
I’m a big traveller. I’ve been to 66 countries and counting. Senegal has been one of my favourites; it has such a variety of colourful and rich cultures. There are so many tribes and religions living together in harmony. The music is amazing. They have all types of landscapes: desert, sea, savannah, everything. It was the combination of old and new that had me in awe – the contrast of horse carriages and big SUVs.
What’s your side hustle?
My friend and I wanted to start a business – a platform that would match travellers with the same travelling styles. We bought a domain name and had a project team. We did a startup weekend and got selected as one of the few teams to do further work. Even though it didn’t end up working out, it was a great learning experience.