FinTech Female Fridays: Meet Product Manager, Komal Long
It didn’t take long into Komal’s career for her to realize that she was meant to be in fintech. From a background in traditional finance and investment banking, there were plenty of challenges in making this career transition. Komal luckily had incredible mentors along the way, and eventually came across the opportunity to join the Provide team. We dive into how Provide is making tremendous impacts, how Komal is devoting her time to connecting women in fintech, and the productivity hacks of a Product Manager.
Name: Komal Long
Current job title: Product Manager
Current location: San Francisco
Works from: Home
Komal’s favorite hobby: Trying to make a perfect sourdough loaf and experiment with other sourdough goodies (shoutout to my sourdough mentor Alexis Mersel!)
Komal’s favorite part of the day: Curling up with my dog and reading a book
Komal Long’s career started out very standard for a finance graduate; she immediately spent three years in traditional FP&A roles and gradually made her way to investment banking. “I was at Morgan Stanley for about a year when I started networking with people in tech through friends and meetups. I quickly saw a whole new world of opportunity in the fintech industry and knew I had to be a part of it.”
After this realization, Komal joined the capital markets operations team at Funding Circle as an analyst, and toward the end of her three-year tenure was leading the U.S. team. “One of the most important things I learned in that time was what I ultimately wanted to do with my career, and to pursue that passion, I had to leave that company and start a new chapter.”
Komal joined Provide at an early stage. “It was a huge risk for me at the time, but I haven’t looked back since making this decision.” Komal joined the capital markets team and moved to product after eight months. Provide describes itself as “the modern bank for healthcare practice owners.” She is currently leading the launch for a couple new products, but spends most of her time focused on finding ways to innovate in Provide’s process.
“Our lending business has challenges beyond a typical small business loan – our transactions can be large and extremely complex, involving many different external parties. Building software and technology that help everyone in a transaction has been my focus.”
One of the biggest initiatives she is working on is integrating OCR and machine learning into Provide’s software, to extract information from financial documents and use that data to perform cash flow analysis on businesses. This opportunity creates efficiencies in internal processing and is a building block to develop tools for customers, such as an instant approval for borrowers and an instant valuation for someone considering selling their healthcare practice.
“We are excited to have developed a unique process that will have a tremendous impact on our business and industry.”
As far as trends in fintech, Komal has been following the wave of Crypto, especially as many retailers are beginning to accept it as a payment method. “It’s fascinating to think about a potential world of transacting without financial institutions being involved. This has the chance to disrupt the large incumbents in finance and will present huge opportunities for new companies.”
Komal is on the leadership team of Women In FinTech, an organization similar to NYC FinTech Women, but based out of San Francisco. The organization started at Funding Circle as an internal resource group and has grown beyond what they imagined, to an incorporated non-profit with almost 2,000 members.
“I remember back to when I was trying to make a change in my career and was seeking advice, and struggling to find resources. Women In FinTech is becoming that resource for many. We organize industry content events as well as networking happy hours in hopes of connecting people, whether it’s for job opportunities, mentorship, or friendship.”
One of the biggest challenges Komal has faced in her career has been transitioning to product. She mentions that while it was not an easy path, it was ultimately worth it in the end. After countless rejections, she found herself extremely discouraged at times. “It’s important to stay laser focused and evaluate each step you take in your career to make sure you’re going in the right direction, even if in the short-term it’s lateral or backward movement. I was lucky enough to find a company that believed in me and my career goals. While on the capital markets team, I made sure to get involved with product early on and asked to lead few capital markets specific projects. My advice for anyone looking to make the same transition would be to do the same –sit in on meetings and learn about the process. It’s never too late to make a switch!”
Komal has had various mentors at different stages in her career. “When I was just starting out my career and ‘knew’ I wanted to ultimately go into investment banking, I had a good friend who was working at Morgan Stanley who was instrumental in guiding me towards that goal. During my time at Funding Circle, my manager played a key role in my career development and taught me everything I know about lending. She is still my mentor today and also one of my very best friends.” Women in FinTech has also connected Komal with amazing women who have given her advice and guidance: “It’s such a great feeling to have access to so many supportive women. The one constant mentor I’ve had through my whole career and has helped me make every decision is my husband. He is my rock and #1 supporter.”
Komal’s productivity hack: In the past, I would write down 5-10 tasks I wanted to get done the next day. This often meant being discouraged when I had only tackled 1-2 of those things, if any. My days are filled with disruptions and getting that many things done was simply not achievable.
Each week, I started writing down a max of 1-2 things I want to get done. I leave the days free and open for myself to work at my own pace and focus on only those things. Productivity is 100% about prioritizing. You likely don’t have to finish that long, daunting list of stuff, and there are only a couple things that actually matter right now. Recognize what those are and leave the “nice-to-do’s” for another time. Because I am focused Monday through Thursday, I typically tackle those smaller tasks on Fridays and end the week feeling like an overachiever rather than a procrastinator.
Komal’s Book Recommendation: I am a huge fan of the content the Basecamp team puts out, I read “Rework” and “It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work,” and I love their principles and practices that they share about building great products, teams, and businesses.
Komal’s Podcast Recommendation: a16z, The Daily, and The Product Podcast
9:30 am - Daily standups with our engineering teams. I have two of these for two different engineering tracks. I listen in and go do some QA/product testing on a few features.
10:00 am - There is a beta version of a redesign we did on a page in our app. I review it to test out functionality and make note of any changes to make before we can push this live.
11:00 am - Each month, the engineering and product team does a lunch n’ learn. It’s typically centered around a different topic – someone from a particular team comes in and gives us an overview of their process or an engineer reviews a project they have been working on. This time, we review details around a new product launch, potential vendors, and implementation and timing.
12:00 pm - Meeting with our UX/UI designer and another PM to discuss a big change to our internal system. We review mockups as a team and address questions and create follow-ups.
1:00 pm - Take my dog Nell to the park for her mid-day exercise. It’s also a great time to get some fresh air and step away from the computer for a bit.
3:00 pm - Meeting with a data platform to discuss renewing our subscription or cancelling. I review our contract and price changes. I’ve decided to cancel.
3:30 pm - 1x1 with our engineering leader.
6:00 pm - We have our bi-weekly Women In FinTech meeting. We use this time to go through our project tracker and give updates on status and add additional items to this as we go along. We decided on event planning for the first few months and brainstormed industry topics for later events, and then spent the last 15-20 minutes catching up.
9:30 am - Same as yesterday - daily standups
10:00 am - The product team puts on a quarterly meeting with the entire company to review features we shipped and the next quarter's roadmap. I put together a draft deck for the presentation.
12:00 pm - 1x1 with my manager. This meeting is one of my favorites in any given week. We start with specific agenda items but by the end are nerding out about product launches and new ideas we have.
1:00 pm - Daily walk to the park with the dog.
2:00 pm - I do some more product testing. Then, I start writing up tickets for feature requests from our capital markets team earlier in the week.
3:00 pm - I realize I’ve been in a Slack hole for over an hour and shift focus. I start on a PRD for Phase 1 of a new product we’re developing. I do a very basic writeup and schedule a follow up with the lead dev to talk through implementation.
5:00 pm - I’ve been doing some Confluence cleanup for the new year to better document and organize our teams’ work. I continue doing this and also review the next few sprints to reassess priority.
7:00 pm - I made a quick dinner and watched the series finale of Sopranos - what a crazy ending...
Fridays are my lightest day - no standups!
9:00 am - Continue editing and adding to the company deck.
10:00 am - Our team has a “grooming” meeting every Tuesday. Since Monday is a holiday, I prep for grooming. I reorganize the backlog and decide which stories take priority to review with the team.
12:00 pm - Time for our bi-weekly product huddle. This week we spent time reviewing the draft deck I put together.
1:00 pm - Park time with the dog.
2:00 pm - We’re launching a new product and I am working on a GTM plan for it. I refine my dates and action items to prepare for a stakeholder meeting the following week.
4:00 pm - I wrap up the day with more development on product requirements.
5:00 pm - We skipped lunch today so we are eating a very early dinner. I spent a couple more hours finishing up admin tasks and doing some Women in FinTech work planning our next couple events.
7:00 pm - I did some research to figure out what to read next. I just finished the Elena Ferrante series of My Brilliant Friend, which was fantastic.
8:00 pm - Start Fargo season 4.
10:00 am - I like to sleep in on the weekends. Wake up and take my dog on a little walk.
11:00 am - TikTok inspired me to attempt a french omelette.
1:00 pm - We live in Dogpatch and there are great biking spots around us - we spend 30 minutes biking up the hills to Potrero.
3:00 pm - Fort Funston is one of our favorite places in the Bay Area. More importantly, our dog Nell is really her best self when she’s there. We take a short drive over to enjoy a walk and ocean views.
5:00 pm - I FaceTime with my niece. She’s 2.5 and is the coolest little human ever. She loves to see what Nell is up to.
5:30 pm - I’m trying out a new recipe - braised short ribs and parmesan truffle risotto. It took forever (2.5 hours), but ended up being one of the better dishes I’ve made. It was my first time making risotto and man, that dish requires non-stop attention. While cooking, I tuned into the Virtual Dinner Party on Clubhouse. Really loving the conversations happening on this platform.
9:00 pm - Continue with Fargo.
Connect with Komal on LinkedIn.