The life of a fintech executive — Championing diversity in the world of investing, and some family time
- Lule Demmissie is the president of Ally Invest, a fintech innovator in the online brokerage and wealth management industry.
- A major priority for Lule is playing a role in driving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in financial services; she believes fintechs have a unique opportunity to meaningfully expand DE&I, from the make-up of their workforces to the products and services that reduce barriers to entry so regular folks can take part in investing.
- Lule lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. with her wife and two children, commuting (pre-COVID) to Charlotte, N.C. during the week.
- This is a recent day in her life.
- For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
06:30 to 07:30: I wake up and get ready for the day.
I wake up, stretch using a roller and ball, shower, dress, take my vitamins, and prep breakfast for myself and the kids. Breakfast and dinner are my zone – my amazing superhero wife (who is the commissioner of human rights for New York City) handles other household tasks.
After breakfast, our girls (ages 7 and 10) will spend time in our backyard or on the front stoop of our townhouse, or walk over to Prospect Park in Brooklyn for a social distancing playdate with friends and neighbours.
By 08:00, I get started on work.
The first call of the day is what we call our "pre-market" call with the team to ready ourselves for market open. It's a quick but efficient call that covers a range of topics from technology to service readiness for our customers.
As a self-directed and advisory fintech that is part of a digital bank, our goal is to facilitate a smooth trading and investing day, while also resolving system or customer issues that come up. It takes rigour and relentless attention for everyone on our team.
08:30: I attend my daily "Stand Up" with our team's engineers and developers.
Stand ups are a meeting structure born out of Lean/Agile practices that enables teams to iterate and move quickly. Lean/Agile is a digital approach that focuses on refining "how" we create, not just "what" we create for customers. It is a means of empowering teams while helping drive productive problem-solving. Yes, I love this stuff!
09:00: I work through my inbox and respond to emails, and also catch up on social media.
After browsing social media, I meditate briefly using my Headspace app to be mentally and emotionally centered for my day.
09:30: We kick off our Weekly Huddle with the core leadership.
The Weekly Huddle is forum for us to track initiative progress and business metrics, and discuss any new issues that need to be resolved.
The rest of the mid-morning is filled with a variety of meetings. Recently I've had meetings on brainstorming to adapt to an extended work-from-home model, addressing growth opportunities and challenges, and using customer behaviour and feedback to address pain points in our products and services.
12:00: I usually take calls through my midday lunch hour.
Most days I'll grab a piece of fruit, make a cup of tea, or drink a protein shake. If I have some time blocked off during my "lunch" hour, I listen to a brief snippet of a podcast or watch CNBC for market updates. My favourite podcasts include: FomoSapiens, Masters of Scale, Hello Monday, and Revisionist Historian. I'm a huge behavioural science and innovation insights enthusiast. I may also post something on social media during lunch if an interesting insight strikes me.
13:00 to 15:00: Coffee and Zoom with my colleagues
Each week I meet with five to six folks from different parts of the organisation to discuss the team's "life hacks" in this work-from-home environment. I also answer any questions they have on the state of the company. We wrap these hour-long Zoom sessions with more feedback on how their teams are doing in this environment.
15:30: Several days a week, I dedicate my late afternoon to improving our diversity and inclusion efforts.
Recently, I joined a Treasury Summit virtual roundtable, where we discussed the need to have more diversity and representation in management teams of fintech companies.
I had the chance to interview Anna N'Jie-Konte of Dare to Dream Financial Planning about her practice and her clients who are typically millennial women of colour, an underrepresented demographic in financial services. This interview was part of our Invest Digital Conference for independent investors, a program with the goal to bring more Black and brown voices into investing.
I conduct regular mentorship video conference calls to give more unrepresented talent at our firm, and in our industry, insights and tips on navigating their careers.
18:30: I log off work, and turn to family time.
I'm the chef in the evenings, so I start cooking dinner. Each dish gets rated by my family as follows:
- "This is a nice change, Emama" aka "I could do without eating this dish again," or
- "Emama, this dish is a keeper for the family restaurant menu" (the hypothetical "if we start a family restaurant" menu).
Thank goodness one meal is always a favourite: Taco Tuesdays!
19:00: Each evening, our entire block steps out to clap and ring our bells to show appreciation for essential workers.
Typically, a few workers pass by and the entire neighbourhood starts cheering even louder for them. We are blessed to live in a warm, friendly and diverse community. #BrooklynLove
20:00: We make the most of family time with board games, talent shows, and family Zoom dates.
I miss nice evenings out with my wife — ah, the COVID blues! Nowadays, we opt for socially distant summer drinks on our stoop with one or two neighbourhood friends.
20:30 to 21:00: Bedtime for kids.
My wife and I usually stay up and chat, watch some TV, or read an audio book before calling it a night ourselves.
We make sure to prioritise family time on the weekends.
Recently on the weekend, we hosted a family friend's seven-person "social distanced wedding" on our stoop. Our kids were the flower girls and ring bearers. It was great to still be able to celebrate love in the time of COVID, even in this unique nontraditional way.
As president of Ally Invest, Lule Demmissie is responsible for Ally Invest Securities, Ally Invest Advisors, and API business lines. This includes the products and services delivered to Ally's all-digital client base; the shaping of the end-to-end client experience; and the management of the P&L and growth strategy for the business.
She is an advocate for empowering everyone to take control of their financial futures. As a financial executive with a range of intersectional identities, Lule is committed to cultivating a culture with diverse perspectives and talents. Follow her on Twitter
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