“View Your Career as a Marathon, Not a Sprint,” says Mary Jane Ajodah to Future Women in Fintech

MARY JANE AJODAH_FinovateFall

Mary Jane Ajodah covers fintech and emerging technology within the Client Service Delivery Strategy Group at Bank of New York Mellon. Her responsibilities entail developing use cases for emerging technology with various business areas, identifying and driving opportunities for partnerships with third parties, and articulating a strategic vision around new technology for operations. Ahead of her session at FinovateFall – Industry Discussion: Transforming Legacy Businesses with AI – Building win-win Partnerships while Focusing on Utility, Practicality and Efficiency – we speak to her about her career path and her words of advice to the future women in fintech.

Finovate: How did you start your career?

Mary Jane Ajodah: I started my career in IBM’s internal strategy consulting practice. I worked on several projects core to IBM’s reorganization and transformation, including the launch of the IBM Digital business unit. I gained invaluable experience at IBM, particularly around how innovation and change are executed in a mature enterprise.

In late 2015, a recruiter from BNY Mellon reached out to me on a role focusing on fintech within the bank’s Operations Strategy team. Around this time, interest in topics such as ‘enterprise blockchain’ and AI was accelerating, with a great deal of discussion around the future role of custodians and other financial intermediaries. It was a unique opportunity and key point in time. Since joining, I’ve worked on a number of projects related to BNYM’s overall growth and innovation strategy. I’ve also appreciated the opportunity to cultivate our relationships with startups and VCs where there is mutual benefit.

The recurring theme for both of these roles has been driving change within enduring organizations (IBM at 100+ years, and BNY Mellon at 234 years). Mostly, I’ve been fortunate to have learned from inspiring senior leaders, and to have worked with excellent teams.

Finovate: What sparked your interest in fintech?

Ajodah: I was interested in both finance and technology separately, and my current role brings both together. I studied economics and international relations at NYU, and wrote my undergraduate honors thesis on sovereign debt and default. As I started my career, I wanted to ensure I had a skill set that would endure over the long-run – understanding the impact of technology on changing business models is a core component.

Finovate: What was your lightbulb moment?

Ajodah: I’ve had a few lightbulb moments on specific projects during my career, generally uncovering some root cause or issue and proposing a solution after interviews with various stakeholders and subsequent analyses. It is very rewarding when those moments happen.

Finovate: What inspires you?

Ajodah: Travel inspires me the most. I like to do a lot of solo travel, and have visited a lot of cool places. I visited Svalbard, the last human settlement before the North Pole, when it was 24 hours of night. This trip inspired an Off-Broadway show that I wrote and produced this past July — “Savage Force”. We sold out for all the nights of our run.

I am inspired the most by those that can be successful in multiple fields of endeavor – Fridtjof Nansen – who discovered most of the Arctic, along with being a scientist and diplomat, is one of them!

Finovate: Why is the #WomenInTech movement important?

Ajodah: My generation has tremendous opportunities thanks to the success and contributions of the women of generations prior. During the time I spent both at IBM and BNY Mellon, there have always been senior women at the highest levels of management with tremendous energy, experience, and knowledge.

Finovate: What piece of advice would you give women starting their careers in fintech?

Ajodah: View your career as a marathon, not a sprint. The ability to contribute consistently and effectively over time, and put in the intensity where it is truly needed is crucially important.

FinovateFall Sneak Peek: SaleMove

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateFall on September 24 through 26, 2018 in New York. Register today and save your spot.

SaleMove helps companies identify the highest-value visitors in real-time; communicate with them using chat, audio, or video; and guide them through inquiries with cobrowsing and screensharing technology.

Features

  • Identify your highest-value customers
  • Communicate with clients using anything from chat to phone to video
  • Engage with customers by collaborating with cobrowsing and screen sharing technology

Why its great
SaleMove creates the most elegant online interactions between a business and their customers.

Presenter

Dan Michaeli, Co-Founder and CEO
Michaeli is the CEO and co-founder of SaleMove and is the driving force behind its mission to meet or exceed the in-person customer experience online. He is originally from Guatemala and is a proud UPenn grad.
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FinovateFall Sneak Peek: Simpler Trading

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateFall on September 24 through 26, 2018 in New York. Register today and save your spot.

Simpler Trading’s Simpler Charts is an easy-to-navigate charting platform that equips traders with the tools they need while lowering the barrier to entry for trading education.

Features

  • One-click access to moderator’s charts in trading room
  • Push notifications for entry/exit triggers predetermined by the user
  • Customizable integrated trading journal

Why it’s great
Combining the tool’s easily-navigated interface and explanatory pop-ups with Simpler Trading’s educational content lets traders consistently and confidently put what they’ve learned into practice.

Presenters

John Carter, CEO, President
Carter, a life-long trader and the author of Mastering the Trade, has combined his passion for trading and helping others to create Simpler Trading.
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Fred Bryant, COO
Bryant has a diverse business background with experience advising top executives of small and newly-established businesses on how to create, grow and maintain their enterprises.
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FinovateFall Sneak Peek: Digital Onboarding

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateFall on September 24 through 26, 2018 in New York. Register today and save your spot.

Digital Onboarding helps banks and credit unions turn account holders into engaged and profitable relationships by making it easy for customers and members to adopt account-related services.

Features
The platform’s E.W.E. machine learning capability helps marketers automatically test and discover the most effective message cadence, content, and incentive offers to drive optimum performance.

Why it’s great
While most marketers say that they are not using most marketing automation system features effectively, the Digital Onboarding platform is designed to to be simple and cost efficient.

Presenters

Ted Brown, CEO
Brown cofounded Digital Onboarding after leading sales at Andera, a company that first made it possible to open deposit accounts online. (Andera was acquired by Bottomline in 2014).
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Jonathan Crossman, CTO
Before cofounding Digital Onboarding, Crossman gained more than a decade of experience working in web and mobile development for companies like Digication and DePuy Synthes.
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FinovateFall Sneak Peek: MuniRisk

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateFall on September 24 through 26, 2018 in New York. Register today and save your spot.

MuniRisk is an application available via the Bloomberg terminal designed to address the longstanding issue of information fragmentation in the municipal marketplace.

Features

  • Strategically aligned with Bloomberg L.P.
  • World’s largest municipal finance database
  • Designed by industry-recognized market practitioners

Why it’s great
MuniRisk is the only platform that provides investors with complete municipal market coverage, leveraging proprietary organization and delivery of data to cut research time from hours to minutes.

Presenters

James Frischling, Chief Executive Officer
Frischling is currently serving as the chief executive officer of MuniRisk. In addition to his role at MuniRisk, Frischling serves as president of NewOak Capital which he co-founded in 2008.
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Joshua Noble, Head of Product
Noble is currently serving as head of product for MuniRisk. Prior to joining MuniRisk full time he spent 2.5 years as an analyst in NewOak Capital’s Fundamental Credit Advisory Practice.
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FinovateFall Sneak Peek: ieDigital

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateFall on September 24 through 26, 2018 in New York. Register today and save your spot.

ieDigital provides financial institutions with the ability to transform their digital customer experience through Interact, a powerful digital banking platform.

Features

  • Manage spending habits
  • Save money and contribute to your community
  • Build deeper customer relationships

Why it’s great
Money Fitness will help you save money and contribute directly to good causes in your own neighborhood.

Presenters

Simon Cadbury, Director of Strategy, Marketing and Product
Last time Cadbury came to New York, he was mistaken for Hugh Grant. We think he secretly hopes it will happen again.
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Tom Stinton, Head of Product and Design
Stinton says: “If Simon looks like Hugh Grant, then I’m surely a dead ringer for action hero Jason Statham.” Only your hairline is expendable, Stinton.
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FinovateFall Sneak Peek: Launchfire

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateFall on September 24 through 26, 2018 in New York. Register today and save your spot.

Launchfire helps financial institutions drive digital adoption. It will be presenting its new game-based platform, Lemonade, which helps turn frontline staff into digital advocates.

Features

  • Quickly bring frontline staff up-to-speed on new digital products
  • Increase staff confidence using and recommending products to customers
  • Support both staff and customers with product simulations

Why it’s great
Lemonade gives frontline staff the knowledge, tools, and confidence they need to promote and support your digital products.

Presenter

Romeo Maione, Program Designer & Strategist
Maione spent six years as an international debater, becoming North American Champ in 2012. Now he helps FIs increase adoption of their digital products, as program designer and strategist at Launchfire.
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FinovateFall Sneak Peek: CrediVia

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateFall on September 24 through 26, 2018 in New York. Register today and save your spot.

CrediVia is launching an online marketplace for smarter, simpler, faster commercial real estate loans, initially focused on the hospitality segment.

Features

  • Efficiently captures complete, accurate commercial real estate loan application data
  • Connects single loan requests to multiple viable lenders
  • Provides reports and analytics for faster loan decisioning and approval

Why it’s great
CrediVia is establishing new standards for the way to credit CRE loans. Its platform identifies the story behind lender and borrower needs, producing lasting relationships.

Presenters

Anuj N. Mittal, CEO and Co-Founder
Mittal’s personal frustrations as both a borrower and banker inspired CrediVia. His vision is to eliminate the broken, impersonal financing that strains lender-borrower relationships and delays funding.
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Ajay Jain, Ph.D., Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder
Jain champions CrediVia’s product innovation and development. His 20+ years of experience includes building multiple commercial software applications for a startup that was successfully acquired.
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FinovateFall Sneak Peek: Tolerisk

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateFall on September 24 through 26, 2018 in New York. Register today and save your spot.

Tolerisk pioneered two-dimensional risk assessment and is now introducing Tolerisk 401(k), a tool allowing advisors to provide custom financial planning advice in minutes, not hours.

Features

  • Offers deep analytics and a simple user interface
  • Creates a custom glide path for participant’s asset allocation
  • Eliminates the need for generic target date funds

Why it’s great
Through better technology, advisors can provide 401(k) participants with custom financial planning and investment advice without raising fees or wasting time.

Presenter
Mark Friedenthal, Founder and CEO
Friedenthal combined his experience as a regulator, institutional risk manager and RIA executive to create Tolerisk, the paradigm in fiduciary risk tolerance and planning.

FinovateFall Sneak Peek: Tala Security

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateFall on September 24 through 26, 2018 in New York. Register today and save your spot.

Tala is a startup that enables enterprises to deliver the most secure and trusted web experience to their customers across PC and mobile devices.

Features

  • Comprehensive protection against server-side, client-side, and third-party attacks
  • Completely automated and easy to manage
  • Agent-less, no change to the website or end user device

Why it’s great
With Tala, enterprises can increase site conversion rates and customer satisfaction, prevent loss of customer data, and recover lost online revenue.

Presenters

Aanand Krishnan, CEO
Krishnan is an experienced technology and security leader with a track record of introducing industry leading products. His previous firms include Symantec and Morgan Stanley.
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Siddhesh Yawalkar, Senior Software Engineer
Yawalkar is a Senior Software Engineer at Tala and works on Threat Intelligence and Analytics. He has an MSEE from Georgia Tech.
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FinovateFall Sneak Peek: Saylent

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateFall on September 24 through 26, 2018 in New York. Register today and save your spot.

Saylent, a leading provider of data analytics and marketing automation, enhances customer engagement with data-driven insights and relevant actions that continuously advance and evolve.

Features

  • Automated data analytics across all business lines
  • Actionable insights, predictive ROI, behavioral outcomes, and channel proficiency
  • Adaptive models for smarter targeting and improved customer impact

Why it’s great
The Saylent platform will allow you to finally unlock the power within your data and realize the promise of translating your data into real value.

Presenters

Damien Hayes, Senior Revenue Consultant
Hayes has two decades of experience committing his energy to financial institutions that want to realize the elusive promise of wealth within their data.
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Russ Prettitore, Chief Revenue Officer
Prettitore is a 25-year veteran in the fintech industry and leads Saylent’s business development efforts. Prior to Saylent, he worked at Mastercard, First Data, Metavante, and NYCE.
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FinovateFall Sneak Peek: PasswordPing

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateFall on September 24 through 26, 2018 in New York. Register today and save your spot.

PasswordPing helps organizations prevent attacks from compromised credentials by checking each login against billions of previously exposed username and password combinations that are on the dark web.

Features
PasswordPing’s compromised credential screening draws from a cloud database of billions of exposed login credentials, which enables our customers to screen employees and customer logins.

Why it’s great
Passwords are the weakest link in cybersecurity and customers rarely know that their credentials have been exposed. Screening for compromised credentials is an easy and safe way to protect them.

Presenters

Michael Wilson, Founder and CTO
Wilson has spent 20+ years in technology roles with an emphasis on security at organizations like Webroot, LogicNow, NASA, and a few other software companies.
LinkedIn