FinTech Female Fridays: Meet Marketing VP, Michelle O'Connor
Updated: Mar 31, 2021
From a career in Public Relations at luxury brands, founding and running her own hybrid marketing agency, to breaking into the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, Michelle O’Connor is a Marketing VP making financial services products more accessible. We sat down with Michelle and learned about how she balances work and life as a mom, the challenges she’s overcome as a woman in Fintech, and how she’s excited to see cryptocurrency continue to boom.
“Working on projects that bring good will always be my number one goal.”
Full name: Michelle O’Connor
Current job title: VP of Marketing
Current location: San Francisco Bay Area
Works from: Hybrid - Home and office
Favorite hobbies: Cooking and Traveling (which she misses immensely)
Michelle O’Connor began her career working in Public Relations for luxury brands. After years of working both in-house and on the agency side, Michelle founded a hybrid marketing agency in 2007. The agency addressed the emerging world of social media, evolution of marketing and growth hacking, which was a new concept back then. After years of running her own agency, Michelle landed a Marketing role in the blockchain/crypto space at Uphold in 2015, the early days of crypto.
Michelle began working in FinTech at a digital money platform, which was one of the first to offer consumers an easy way to buy and hold bitcoin among other assets - back before bitcoin was a household name and the idea of digital currencies still had a nefarious connotation.
“Those early years were like the wild west and some of my favorite moments were navigating the unknown while working to improve the lives of those who are un/underbanked. I am still very passionate about the potential for blockchain and digital assets and advise a number of small early stage startups who are building crypto related products. My northstar is to work on projects that are building toward democratized access to financial services beyond those who are easily ‘banked’.”
The un/underbanked need (especially during a pandemic) low-cost and safe access to reliable banking services like payday lending without predatory practices, alternative funding methods without high interest rates. “Working on projects that bring good will always be my number one goal.”She now is VP of Marketing at TaxBit.
“I am working on expanding the community and knowledge base for existing and potential customers. Helping them build more will help the un/underbanked gain access to more financial services products.”
Michelle is excited to see cryptocurrency continue to develop. “I’m biased but with the move by Paypal to offer access to cryptocurrencies, and the recent run by Bitcoin hitting an all-time high of $40,000 mainstream adoption is nearly here.” As major governments continue to drive currency debasement by printing trillions of dollars in stimulus, consumers and businesses are moving toward diversifying their holdings across alternatives like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and more.
“I’m long on crypto and excited to see where we are in 6 months and 6 years from now!”
Michelle has faced many challenges in her career, more recently she’s learned how to overcome the challenge of balancing work and life while being a mom to a 4-year-old and 15-month-old.
“Finding your professional identity once you have a child and how you can embrace both parts of your life is a challenge.”
Michelle continuously works to support others while powering through her own imposter syndrome. “It’s not always easy to work in an industry that is predominantly male and while disruptive is parallel in many ways to traditional finance and the categorical cliches of that space. Having a voice as a woman isn’t always easy or welcomed. Having a contrarian opinion vs a male counterpart has proven over the years to be a point of tension. I’ve had fellow members of executive teams tell me to, “be nice” or “go easy” on colleagues knowing male counterparts while deserving had never received this feedback. I pushed back and doubled down on opinions, I had to push twice as hard and many times watch failed attempts by others only to come in and improve upon their mistakes with what I had originally suggested.”
Michelle has experienced that it’s not easy to find your voice as a woman in Fintech and she has been patronized by colleagues and team members in the past. “Anytime this happens I think to myself, “what would you want your daughter to do?” and I do that. With everything I do, I think of my girls and other little girls out there, and how can I blaze a path like those did before me to help them get further.”
Michelle has had both incredible success and disappointment with mentors, which she openly shared with us about. “When I was 17 I started working as a receptionist. The CMO at that company left such an impression on me that I asked her to mentor me, although it wasn’t as popular back then. Over the years we’ve kept in touch and I now realize how much she has shaped my skillset as a marketing professional. I strive to be available as a mentor for those looking to navigate the early stages of their career and am currently looking for my next mentor.” Michelle has set a personal goal for 2021 to establish a personal “board of directors” composed of friends, and colleagues.
In addition to Michelle’s role at TaxBit and life as a mom, Michelle also volunteers with NYC Fintech Women. As the expansion chair, she is working with the team to scale NYC Fintech Women globally.
“We’ve seen the need for a safe and supportive community skyrocket amidst the uncertainty of a global pandemic. As women navigate their careers, the need for support and networking via alternative methods like virtual meetups and panels has increased our footprint virtually and I’m working to support that growth holistically via regional hubs that will be announced soon.”
Michelle encourages anyone who is passionate about the NYC Fintech Women community and interested in learning more about the expansion team to reach out!
Favorite part of Michelle’s day: The early morning, 5:30 to 8:00 am
Productivity hack: Wake up early every morning and DO NOT pick up your phone, take 5-10 minutes to set an intention for the day and meditate or stretch.
5:30 am: I wake up early and take 15 minutes to create an intention for the day, stretch and do some light yoga.
6:00 am: No one else is up yet, so I will hop onto an EDM Peloton ride. I love JessKingNYC, her classes are amazing and really help me hit reset, I just let the previous week go and welcome the new week.
6:30 am: After biking the kiddos are usually awake which means a shift from individual mode to Mom mode. Weekends mean early morning cartoons, Daniel Tiger or something from PBS and slow starts. We’ll take a nice long walk as a family.
8:30 am: My older daughter and I will head to the farmers market and then do cooking and meal prepping for the week, she’s a budding chef who loves helping.
11:00 am: I spend some time cleaning and organizing around the house. Weekends include a lot of around the house stuff, that’s less career oriented but it’s reality. I am an avid gardener so planting or maintaining the garden is also a weekend project and one of my favorite things to do.
12:30 pm: In the early afternoons, when kiddos are napping I go through emails, calendars and tasks from the previous week(s), evaluate what’s been completed, what’s outstanding and what’s new. Prioritize based (1-5) and plan what needs to be done to accomplish those tasks.
1:30 pm: I set weekly goals for my team and prioritize those. I’ve found taking the time on Sundays to prepare for the upcoming week helps me enjoy the rest of the weekend and start the week prepared, energized and excited.
5:30 am: Another early morning, set intention, and then take a Peloton class to get my body and mind moving.
6:30 am: The baby likes to wake up early, so it’s usually playtime with her while preparing lunch for my older daughter’s preschool.
8:15 am: I block time on my calendar in the mornings from 8:15 - 9:00 to review/reply to emails, Slack, Twitter, Linkedin, and Reddit.
Because I have a hectic daily schedule between kids, working at a start-up, and chairing multiple boards I find using the zero calendar method the most efficient, and for those looking for a scheduling tool, Woven is your tool.
9:00 am: From 9:00 onwards it’s go-time, usually 3 to 5 calls per day with 30 min blocks between if possible to get work done. I try to find at least 30 minutes each day to take a walk, clear my head and if needed take calls, but I try to step away from work.
Connect with Michelle on LinkedIn.
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