FinTech Female Fridays: Meet Product Management Director, Vesela Radeva
Currently, working for the Global Technology & Operations organization within Bank of America, Vesela Radeva's operational function supports Over-The-Counter Derivatives trading. The global team she is part of focuses on the legal confirmation of these complex bi-laterally traded financial instruments. Vesela leads a Product Management team of seven operational subject matter experts and change managers whose function is to ensure the people, processes, and technology of the department are efficiently aligned. Vesela and her team are responsible for crafting the department’s strategic direction and execution of the department’s digital transformation goals. Outside of her role at Bank of America, Vesela volunteers with NYC FinTech Women as our FinTech Fireside Minute Lead, with the goal of promoting and empowering women in FinTech.
"Global experiences along with my international background and the diversity of thought, culture and experiences in New York City have been the defining factors of who I am now. "
Name: Vesela Radeva
Current Title: Director/Global Head of Product Management (OTC Derivatives Operations)
Company: Bank of America
Born and raised in Bulgaria, Vesela came to the US in pursuit of higher education, with the ultimate goal of landing a job with one of the big five investment banks and staying in the US long term.
"I consider myself both a New Yorker and a citizen of the world now, so the rest is history. Throughout my time in university and early on in my career, I had amazing opportunities to live and work in different countries such as Austria, Canada and India. These global experiences along with my international background and the diversity of thought, culture and experiences in New York City have been the defining factors of who I am now. "
Vesela was hired by Merrill Lynch as an operational analyst straight out of business school.
With a background rooted in the field of Interest Rates Derivatives, over time Vesela gained expertise on the entire array of Derivatives products.
“I was introduced to Project Management during the time of the financial crisis, which led to the merger of Bank of America and Merrill Lynch. I got involved with some of the system retirements, repurposing, new builds and creation of new operating models namely offshoring. This is when I knew I had found my calling. Over time my projects grew in size and scope and I myself grew into different roles.”
Starting as a program manager, Vesela eventually became a change manager responsible for a team of product managers in the US. However, 3 years ago it was time for Vesela to make a change. “I decided it was time for me to go back to school and polish my technical skills since AI is taking over the world!” She completed an Executive Master of Science in Technology Management from Columbia University. “The degree provided me with a great foundational understanding of innovation and disruptive technologies and more importantly their real-world and profound impact on our business.”
After completing her Master's degree, Vesela was promoted to a Director role to lead a project management team. She was also selected to participate in the Women Executive Development Program, which Bank of America runs jointly with Columbia Business School.
The focus of her role right now has a few major components.
“Even though my team consists of seasoned experts, we have a relatively new mission: manage our function and its people, processes and technology infrastructure as one product that delivers the best possible service to our stakeholders. I spend a considerable amount of time on the development of my people to be effective product managers.”
She also oversees the implementation of transformational initiatives for the financial and derivatives industry such as SEC Regulatory implementation, IBOR reform, Credit Derivatives electronic infrastructure replacement. Vesela manages the internal digital optimization and transformation efforts for the global team, focused on eliminating manual operational processes; technology infrastructure replacement; new system and process design; robotic and intelligent ML/AI-based automation.
“I cannot help but reflect on 2020. It was such an eventful year for me. I finished my Executive Master of Science degree in January, which I got while working full time. Fast forward to two months later and we are in a lockdown and the world is beyond recognition. However, I always focus on the positive! The pandemic helped me make the leap out of the City to a suburb just across the river. I was incredibly lucky to find and buy a beautiful California style house with a big yard. I got engaged and married (#microwedding on the deck!) in November within a span of a month. I got promoted in December. Even among these major life events, this tough year really made me appreciate the small things I took for granted – a walk, FaceTime, YouTube yoga, virtual happy hours, my bike, a good movie, dinner on the deck, some sun and fresh air.”
My schedule for the beginning of January, after being away from the office for the last two weeks of December:
7:00am: I start snoozing. I am not a morning or a breakfast person but at least no commute these days. An hour later and black nitro cold brew in hand (which I make at home these days! The proper barista section of my kitchen got set up before anything else) and I can start catching up on emails and setting the plan for the week. I do my best to block the first two hours of the week, and the last afternoon of the week, to plan and reflect.
10:00am: IBOR Reform Funding: A few of the scoped features we planned for are defunded now so we need to assess implications, define risks and submit escalations.
10:30am: Standing Bi-Weekly catch-up with the head of our India team. Agenda is usually revolving around updates on running projects and initiatives and the deliverables.
11:00am: Standing weekly catch-up with my manager where we touch base on all updates on our major initiatives and events.
11:30am: Standing bi-weekly catch-up with one of my London colleagues on industry initiatives I oversee.
12:00pm: Paternity Planning: one of my team members is expecting and will be on paternity starting March so we need a plan.
12:30pm: Industry vendor demo: a showcase of new functionalities we can potently implement.
1:30pm: Lunch which lately consists of a quick omelet or eggs in any form (breakfast for lunch & dinner!).
2:30pm: NYC Leadership Committee Bi-Weekly Meeting: I provide an update on the mentorship program I rolled out and an event I am organizing on Applied Mindfulness. I give back and volunteer with employee networks as much as I possibly can.
3:30pm: LEAD Women – Monthly Event Committee Meeting: We discuss and agree on the main events calendar for 2021.
4:30pm: Cleaning up email traffic from the day, sending updates on meetings and scheduling follow-ups.
6:00pm: I try to log off around 5:30/6 pm but I do not even want to think about my success rate there. I do like to bring my inbox to 0 every evening though. I have always treated email as a to-do list – read, actioned, and filed. And nothing is filed unless the matter is closed.
8:00pm: Dinner & the news of the day which I do try to limit to an hour or so flipping between channels. I also picked up a bit of a cooking hobby while in quarantine.
I usually dedicate my Tuesdays almost exclusively to 1:1 meetings for my team.
6:00am: I start snoozing earlier today. Some of our team are in Singapore so early meetings are not uncommon.
7:00am: OpEx Enhancements Pipeline: Agree final 2021 scope for the funding we got. We also need a final prioritization view.
8:00am: Global Governance Control Weekly Meeting: My attendance is optional in this meeting. I try to listen in at least once a month on a slower day so that I am close to the control issues the global team is facing, and can see if my team can help resolve any.
9:00am: 2 hours of Weekly 1:1 (30 min each) with Ben, Carlos, Olga, Paul (my UK team)
11:00am: Global IBOR Operational Weekly Steering Committee: An executive update on progress for all Operational teams.
12:00pm: Equity Derivatives Basket Swaps/MarkitWire: A vendor discussion for us to decide our involvement.
12:30pm: OpEx 2021 Program Connect: touch base with the overall program and feed our status updates and escalations.
1:00pm: Lunch fits in the 45 min of the other so that I can come back and make a quick phone call before re-starting my 1:1 meeting with the US Team.
2:00pm: 2 hours of Weekly 1:1 (30 min each) with Marc, Kim, Khin Mee (my US team), and Lisa my Charlotte peer.
4:00pm: Having an hour free here helps me get in front of the daily email traffic and action anything urgent
5:00pm: LGBTQ Employee Network Mentorship Program - January Connect: Wrapping up the day with a quick Video chat with my mentee from one of the employee networks that I support.
7:00am: Derivatives & Operations Monthly Technology Steering Committee: Technology and Operations leadership monthly forum aimed at tracking progress on the entire portfolio of deliverable expected from tech.
8:00am: SEC Regulatory Enhancements Weekly Steering Committee: we have a book of work related to the implementation of the new requirements around confirmation timeliness for Equity Derivatives. It touches six different technology teams.
9:00am: IHS Markit Industry Bi-weekly: I have delegated the active participation to someone on my team so I am multitasking.
10:00am: Reporting Strategy Weekly Meeting: We are retiring some of our reporting infrastructure and we need the final implementation dates.
10:30am: IBOR Reform, Contract Remediation: This is a forum dealing with the historical populations of OTC Derivatives trades into LIBOR rates that are slated to be retired over the next few years. We actively participate in this complex industry effort.
11:00am: Counterparty Risk Management Initiative: Due to the current situation with the global pandemic we are seeing a lot more counterparties we trade with declaring bankruptcy. This forum focuses on strengthening our current processes related to such situations and scoping and executing an automated solution for the future.
12:00pm: IBOR Reform, Product Enablement: Another forum stemming from IBOR reform. It focuses on the enablement of trading on the new risk-free rates replacing the current LIBOR rates across all global currencies.
1:00pm: IBOR Reform, Ops Hiring: I was hoping for an early lunch however an urgent review of the hiring plan for my department has popped up in my calendar. We need to ensure that we will be properly staffed for 2021.
1:30pm: Quick bite as I have about a 30-minute window here.
2:00pm: NYC Level Leadership Committee – Applied Mindfulness Event: A quick touch base on the event we have coming up.
2:30pm: I am spending an hour on the final review of the design document for the Counterparty Risk Initiative from the morning to ensure nothing is missing and on updating the technology pipeline after the morning steering committee.
3:30pm: Vendor Retirement: We have a vendor that we are retiring and we are finalizing the plan here.
4:30pm: I am done with meetings. Now I need to deal with the avalanche of emails piling in my inbox and return a few calls to my colleagues who are still online in the US. I get too caught up on my email to-do list that by the time I turn around it is after 6pm. Time for dinner (DoorDash!).
7:00am: Another early day but at least I do not have to be out of bed at 7. I have a 7:30am call with my Singapore peer Alex every other Thursday but luckily not today.
8:00am: Weekly Management Call: hosted by my manager focused on updates from our executive team.
9:30am: Weekly Product Management Team: This is my team meeting, a great opportunity for the whole team to connect.
10:00am: Inbound Automation/Transformation Internal Meeting: The agenda is always progress on process automation programs.
11:00am: Early lunch today along with email multitasking.
12:30pm: Equity Business Forum: Monthly Catch up with the Equity Derivatives Trading
transformation team aligning priorities.
1:30pm: LGBTQ Employee Network Mentorship Program: January Catch up with my mentor.
2:00pm: HOLA Employee Network Mentorship Program: January Catch up with my mentor.
2:30pm: Donna-Vesi Weekly 1:1 – my catch with the process owner for all of our processes.
3:00pm: NYC Level Leadership Mentorship Program: Video Catch-up with my mentee.
4:00pm: Email, email, email... and a 5:00pm Virtual Happy Hour with my colleagues on my floor!
8:00am: Late start today but I have nothing on the calendar before 8:30 this morning.
8:30am: Innovation Lab Hackathon: Kick off and prep for our second session. I will be a judge for this one.
9:00am: IBOR Reform, Fallback Protocol Operationalization: A forum focusing on the implementation of the fallback protocols remediating LIBOR related historical trades. I consult on operational matters.
10:00am: Derivatives-Securities Operations Connect: I participate in a forum connecting us with securities operations. We discuss our current automation initiatives and the overlap in implementations.
10:30am: Operational Excellence Catch-Up: Regular review of the ideas in the pipeline and vetting of the new ideas.
11:00am: Inbound Automation/Transformation Steering Committee: I host a forum for our subject matter experts and all technology teams focused on robotic and intelligent automation. The implementation spans 4 separate processes and involves multiple internal technology teams. We are handling multiple design questions at this point.
12:00pm: The previous meeting runs over.
12:30pm: Quick lunch before I turn off my internal chat to avoid distractions and focus on ticking off the items on my to-do list from the week that are still open. I usually block my Friday afternoons to catch up on email and review the items from the week that have not been resolved yet. I also use the time for more detailed and in-depth analysis I need to complete or any documentation I need to write up. I am always hoping for a decent start to the weekend and try not to work late on Fridays.
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