By Yeo Jin Yee, Undergraduate, SMU School of Computing and Information Systems
As someone who’s always been interested in all things FinTech, a career in the FinTech space has always appealed to me for several reasons. One of these is the challenging nature of the industry and its rapid growth, implying that there are plenty of opportunities to earn significant responsibility and autonomy early on in one’s career to make a notable impact on the sector.
With FinTech gaining traction and disrupting the traditional value chain of financial institutions and economies, I’m excited about the prospects of the challenges and new advancements that come with a career in the sector. Therefore, I joined the SMU FinTech Club to learn more, and eventually took on the role of Vice President of the SMU FinTech Club in January 2021.
Embracing change in a hybrid world
The decision to take up the leadership position during the pandemic had been one filled with stress and apprehension due to the unique and unexpected challenges which were presented. However, the situation had made way for opportunities for my team and I to lead in a novel manner and solve problems that did not previously exist.
For instance, in our first case competition, three separate plans had to be prepared – physical, physical with little social interaction, and virtual – to cater to the many possible scenarios due to the shifting Covid environment. As a result, I was able to build on my ability to plan ahead and sharpen my decision-making skills. These have strengthened my self-awareness and capacity to adjust to new situations which are greatly beneficial in a post-pandemic world.
Many people, including myself, found adjusting to the new Covid norms a complicated process. With many of our social circles and opportunities to meet new people greatly reduced, it was a challenge learning to navigate the term while trying to develop interpersonal skills and effective habits.
The situation did not, however, prevent opportunities for leadership development. I seized the chance to step out of my comfort zone and reached out to professionals in the industry via platforms such as LinkedIn. Being in the SMU FinTech Club had allowed me to meet individuals that I would have otherwise not met in my normal routine through its many webinars and virtual meetings. These engagements gave me exposure to external stakeholders, and allowed me to make meaningful connections while learning about the latest innovations and insights in the FinTech industry.
Jin Yee (front row, 3rd from left) and members of the SMU FinTech Club
Practical tips and habits
To have sustained and lasting success, as best-selling author Stephen Covey shared in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, one must effectively lead himself, influence, engage, and collaborate with others, and continuously improve and renew one’s capabilities.
Three of the effective habits I put into practice during my term were:
1. Be Proactive
To be proactive, I focused and acted on what I could control instead of what I couldn’t. I’ve also learnt to anticipate challenges and to plan ahead of time. This permitted me to keep a calm composure and make the necessary adjustments when an issue developed.
2. Begin with the end in mind
Secondly, I made a conscious effort to visualise who I was and what I wanted to achieve during my term. Understanding my goal of raising awareness of the various aspects of FinTech and organising the club gave me tremendous clarity, which naturally helped me to be more efficient. During the term, I was able to conduct webinars and a case competition, restructure the club, and even created a systematic research track, among other achievements. Things might not have gone according to plan, and there were times when I felt like giving up, but I believed that if I started with the end in mind, I would have already accomplished half of my objectives.
3. Put first things first
Finally, I learnt that prioritisation and setting expectations are crucial for organising and planning. As a student, juggling academics, extracurricular activities, family, and a social life was difficult. And the truth is that no matter our age or stage of life, we will always be juggling, and it is impossible to enjoy everything all the time. As a result, it’s critical to manage your time, work smartly, and find a comfortable pace to “juggle”, in which we must be aware of our expectations and make a conscious effort to keep negativity bias at bay.
Thriving in the real world requires more than knowledge and skills
2021 brought a cocktail of emotions and experiences, unlike any other time in my university life. It was a year of personal growth as I discovered my leadership style and strengthened a range of fundamental skills such as adaptability, teamwork, and resilience, which are essential for navigating through difficult times. Overall, I have had a most enriching leadership experience, made possible through a great deal of trial and error in translating vision into reality.
Interested in technology and the ways it can disrupt finance? Follow the SMU FinTech Club on Instagram or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
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