Tessa Wijaya describes herself as “a unicorn amongst unicorns amongst unicorns.”
As an Indonesian girl operating a $1 billion monetary expertise start-up in Southeast Asia, she is a fairly uncommon breed.
Ladies leaders in tech are unusual. That is very true in fintech, the place they maintain 7% of leadership positions. However Wijaya mentioned she is hoping that can change by exhibiting extra girls and women they’ll comply with the trail much less traveled.
“I actually do wish to encourage extra girls to be in tech,” the millennial entrepreneur advised CNBC Make It.
Wijaya is the co-founder and chief operations officer of Xendit, an Indonesian fintech platform that processes digital funds for companies in Southeast Asia, like Seize, Sensible and Traveloka.
Since launching in 2015, Xendit has grown quickly. Right now, it processes greater than 65 million transactions value $6.5 billion yearly. It reached the $1 billion “unicorn” status in September.
To Wijaya, nevertheless, success nonetheless feels overseas.
“The unlikelihood of somebody like me — a lady born and raised in a small city in Indonesia — turning into a co-founder in a tech firm invested in by billion greenback funds, doesn’t escape me,” she mentioned.
As a younger woman rising up in Indonesia, Wijaya mentioned she was “unusual,” preferring to play with G.I. Joe motion figures fairly than dolls.
However she was formidable too, impressed by the grandmother who raised her and her cousins, whereas operating a small meals enterprise.
In her early 20s, Wijaya interviewed for an analyst job at a brand new personal fairness fund in Jakarta. Although she had no conventional finance expertise, her important considering and dedication impressed the corporate, and he or she secured the job. She studied the trade outdoors of labor hours to construct her data.
Nonetheless, the journey wasn’t simple.
As one in all only some girls on the group, Wijaya struggled to be heard. She did not have a level from Harvard or MIT, like lots of her colleagues. The overall supervisor of one of many fund’s corporations would merely ignore her when she spoke, she mentioned.
“For me, it was an enormous problem… how do I sustain with these folks? I had no Ivy League diploma,” mentioned Wijaya. “I seemed actually younger, too. To be taken critically if you look younger and you are a girls is actually onerous.”
But, she was undeterred. Wijaya was desperate to play a job in Southeast Asia’s evolving enterprise scene.
Working carefully with rising start-ups within the personal fairness house, she noticed the area’s fast rise of expertise within the early 2010s. However she additionally seen a lacking hyperlink.
“You’ve got trip hailing, you’ve gotten e-commerce,” mentioned Wijaya. “They’re nothing with out the funds.”
In a stroke of luck, Wijaya was launched to a gaggle of scholars from the College of California, Berkeley who had been engaged on an analogous mission by start-up accelerator Y Combinator.
“It was work love at first sight,” mentioned Wijaya.
The group instantly started engaged on a brand new funds platform, that may later turn out to be Xendit.
Six years on, the founders and their group of 600 course of on-line funds, run marketplaces and handle funds for companies in Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and past.
Of Xendit’s employees, some 40% are girls, in keeping with Wijaya. She mentioned she views serving to girls progress of their careers as a private duty.
“I have been given the good alternative to vary how the office behaves, so extra girls can transfer up the ranks and be the subsequent technology of leaders,” she mentioned.
Xendit does that by operating “Ladies In Tech” mentorship schemes for younger girls and women, providing return to work schemes for brand spanking new mothers, and offering meal deliveries for working mother and father in the course of the pandemic.
Wijaya mentioned she hopes that additional assist will make the distinction in encouraging the subsequent technology of feminine fintech professionals to imagine they are often leaders too.
“Typically I take into consideration the place my grandmother can be if she had the alternatives given to me,” she mentioned. “I would prefer to suppose she would even be proper right here. A COO and co-founder… a unicorn amongst unicorns amongst unicorns.”
Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/12/xendit-tessa-wijaya-on-being-a-woman-in-tech-building-a-unicorn.html | Tessa Wijaya on being a lady in tech, constructing a unicorn