Preparing the Finance Industry for the Digital Age – meet Michelle Katics of Singapore

1. What inspired you to work in FinTech? 
What inspired me to work in FinTech was actually a human problem. Even ten years ago whilst working in the bank, portfolio optimization was incredibly complex but we only trained with static powerpoint. I definitely “learn by doing” which inspired me to experiment more with using simulation for training. 

2. Could you tell us more about your company and the work you do?
We focus on higher level skills such as critical thinking, forecasting and problem solving. In our simulation, there are over a trillion possible outcomes which allows endless opportunities to practice. BankersLab and PortfolioQuest are the two software platforms we use to get banks and employees to learn by doing.

3. As a woman who has extensive experience in the Finance industry and now dominating FinTech, have you ever felt challenged or restricted? How did you overcome them?
When I was younger I felt challenged to establish credibility. Not only was I a young, inexperienced female, I also came from a working class background. My speech mannerisms gave me away, so I had to ensure I presented the most polished, educated, and self-assured version of myself. 

My audience were middle age men with excellent education and decades of banking experience which is why it was so essential for me to develop credibility. To do so, I started by cataloguing all of the stories and projects that my colleagues shared with me. Then every time we were in meetings with clients, I’d share these stories with the ‘Royal We,’ discussing challenges and success like a team! 

4. Why did you choose to work in Asia and what do you think about the entrepreneurial potential you see in this region? 
We originally moved to Asia after spending part of each year cycling through Burma, Thailand and Laos, and trekking in the Himalayas.  We noticed the region on a precipice of social and economic growth and wanted to be a part of it.  I’ve been in Asia since 2002 – so it was natural to stay in my professional and personal ‘backyard’ to get started.  

Certain parts of Asian culture are entrepreneurial by nature.  For example, a friend in Thailand joked that anytime a family member was in distress, the solution was to set them up in a small entrepreneurial venture to keep them busy.  For example, the husband passes away, the kids might help their Mom to set up a noodle shop even if she doesn’t need the money.  Through the small business, she will have constant interaction with the fabric of the community.  I see this cultural element in many professional colleagues – the notion that being an entrepreneur is a noble and important way to be part of society.

5. What are some of the struggles that keep you down?
As a startup co-founder, you need to constantly prioritise between tactical and strategic. My nature is to gravitate to tactical, and must constantly self-correct towards strategic.

For example, if you have a sales pipeline, there may be a near term deal which is smaller and sure to bring some quick cash.   In contrast, there may be a much larger deal which may or may not close, but would further the reputation and valuation of the company.  When you have only so many hours in the day, and bills to pay…. making those tradeoffs is a challenge. You need to carve out time for the long term big wins.

6. What are some of the successes that keep you going!
We’ve been able to generate epiphanies with bank employees, which is not something you often see. They realise some important underlying driver of their portfolios, or discover a new strength within themselves. When we use simulation, it puts people through their paces, and the outcomes are often amazing.

7. As a busy entrepreneur, how do you go through each day? We’d love to know a day in the life of Michelle Katics!
Optimise. I use a FitBit to track sleep and exercise which is a major productivity driver. First thing in my day is coffee, then whatever the work day brings, then exercise in the evening.

8. What’s the one piece of golden advice you’d like to give people who are starting out their entrepreneurial journey?
Find your tribe. Find mentors, colleagues and friends who will be there for you when things get tough.

9. What do you expect from a network like Woomentum? 

My tribe! I am excited about the idea that my tribe can extend across borders, industries and time zones with a global platform.

10. Any advice for entrepreneurs? 
When you get knocked down, come back up swinging!  

If you’re looking for simulation-based training for your bank or your employees, reach out to Michelle Katics to know more! 

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