FinTech Female Fridays: Leigh Blechman, Full Stack Developer, Alloy
Why did you pivot from Visual Designer to developer?
My decision was a slow realization. I always dreamed of being a fine art photographer or mixed media artist - which is why I was initially a Visual Designer. During my career I was doing a lot of freelance work, I met a lot of interesting people and it gave me the freedom to do my fine art. I clung to this idea of my career being intertwined with fine art and I convinced myself this was the only way to do that. Throughout this career path something always felt dulled, I really loved design - but what I started to see was the thing that attracted me to visual design was the critical thinking and problem solving aspect of it and with the type of work I was doing I never really got to dive deep into more complex problems. I slowly realized my passion for art was separated from this career path. Finding the right balance between my passions in my personal life and the passions in my career is tough, but I considered what was important to me and what aspects of my life those passions fit in.
I think people have this idea that technology and coding is stiff and unemotional, when In fact it is deeply creative, expressive and you can lose yourself in the process. I get to work with brilliant people everyday, I am constantly learning and growing and I get to help solve really cool problems.
What made you change industries from a marketing firm to a FinTech firm?
It feels to me I leaned toward a marketing firm based on my experience as a visual designer, I think a part of me was still stuck in the mindset of “do something creative”. It was a great space to learn and utilize my design background in conjunction with growing my newer skill set of software development. As I grew and met more people in the industry I would hear more about other types of companies, and projects and realized the scope of what was truly available to me. I started to feel passionate towards the idea of being able to work on something more product focused and really feel like a part of something.
I started to explore other opportunities; one of the platforms I was searching on, led me to meet the CEO of my current company, Tommy Nicholas. I never thought to dive into the world of financial technology, but I spoke to Tommy and I was sucked in. Before that conversation I truly had no idea the magnitude of this field. I was so excited to be apart of it, and I still am!
You have worked at Alloy for over a year; what have you learned since joining the FinTech ecosystem and what are you interested in learning more about?
Previous to working at Alloy, I didn’t really understand the scope or complexity of this field. Initially the most surprising idea to me was how much FinTech, in my case Alloy, directly impacts the consumer and their experience. With the impact of FinTech and advancing technologies, I’ve discovered the path forward in the financial industry is not just about focusing on the ways these cutting edge technologies can innovate financial services, but that there is also a huge emphasis on prioritizing ease and accessibility to more consumers.
The existing infrastructure for most financial institutions are built upon legacy systems which plays a role in their struggle to keep up with regulations. Not only is the amount that these institutions are responsible for tracking pretty intimidating but new requirements will only get more technical and data oriented. The part of this that really excites me is that RegTech will play a large part in automating procedures by leveraging AI, natural language processing and machine learning. Not only am I really looking forward to getting my hands dirty with these processes, but I am fascinated about how they will impact all sectors of the FinTech landscape.
As a developer in the regulator FinTech (Reg-Tech) space that is ever-changing, how do you keep up with these changes?
Being at a RegTech company keeps me at an advantage , being one of the newer kids on the block and “The Future of FinTech”, I feel I get to be apart of a space that is already ahead of the game. There are plenty of resources that aid in providing information on what is current: newsletters, podcasts, blogs and conferences. I think what is important is trying to find a balance when it comes to trying to keep track of the changes and trends otherwise you could potentially waste resources. I try to carve out an hour or so every day to listen to a podcast, read a newsletter or blog. I have found my commute time into work to be a great time to do this!
What is influencing you to stay within the Reg-Tech space?
First and foremost, my company. I truly work for and with such a special group of people and this is something I never expected to find. So, if I am being honest that is probably my biggest influence. Beyond that, I touched on the growth RegTech has already had in the short time I have been apart of it, that growth will only continue. Going forward RegTech innovation will be harnessing AI, ML and NLP ( as mentioned earlier ), this means continuing to build software that will help firms move from reactive to proactive while keeping up with regulatory obligations. I honestly am so thrilled to continue to be apart of this really exciting and ever evolving sector.
Reach out to Leigh on LinkedIn.