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  • Writer's pictureAnli Valdez

FinTech Female Fridays: Meet Rebecca Saletta, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Zeti

As a college student, Rebecca envisioned herself becoming a diplomat, so she started out as an intern for the UK government working for the British Consulate in Los Angeles. After graduating from UCLA, she moved to Northern Italy to teach English for a few months before returning to the UK government on its automotive sector business development team. She worked her way up to leading the UK’s Future of Transport strategy on the West Coast of the US and found herself enamored by the intersection of automotive, climate and technology.

Curious about life on the other side of the table and wanting to grow her perspective, Rebecca left the safety of government to jump to a recently founded London-based fintech start-up called Zeti. She became the company’s sixth employee and the first US hire. With this pivot, Rebecca suddenly found herself as a woman in fintech, in charge of building out Zeti’s US presence from scratch.

Zeti is a fintech start-up focused on financing zero emission vehicle fleets with more flexibility and transparency than traditional automotive leasing. The company sits at the intersection of climate, fintech, and transportation and exists to help deploy ESG capital into fleets of clean vehicles using a new utilization-based (i.e. pay-per-mile) financing model. Zeti was founded in 2020, and its culture consists of innovation, European work-life values, and an urgent desire to make a difference in the battle against climate change. 

Joining Zeti and entering the startup world has been Rebecca’s best career decision thus far. Despite the uncertainties and risks that arise at a startup, Rebecca believes working for a fintech forces strategic thinking, communication, self-discipline, deep self-reflection, and opens up one’s mind to an entirely different part of the professional world. It was risky for Rebecca to jump from a large team in the public sector to being alone in the US for a foreign startup, but she has built and refined a professional acumen and voice that has changed the course of her career forever.

It was one of Rebecca’s male colleagues in government who gave Rebecca the extra push she needed to pivot careers. At the time, Rebecca felt completely blind going into fintech and opening up the first US office for a startup. Yet by clinging to her strengths, advocating for her voice, leading with honesty, and asking for help, she was more than capable of building Zeti’s US momentum and navigating the fintech world for the first time. Having an advocate and mentor to reflect an optimistic reality back to her made all the difference.

Today, Rebecca challenges herself to never compromise the core values that drove her to where she is today. As a female professional who values relationships, prioritizes teamwork, and leads with empathy, she firmly believes that her leadership style is just as important as other, more normalized approaches. In a male-dominated industry, Rebecca uses her unique perspectives and qualities to differentiate herself, bringing light and kindness into the workplace. Being remote has also forced Rebecca to think creatively about how to connect with her team. Understanding the importance of building community, she starts each day with a recurring 1:1s with colleagues to get to know her team and to keep a pulse on the company’s culture and deliverables. By playing to her strength of building deep relationships with others, she is able to better invest in her team, protect the growth of her colleagues, and have others advocate for her in the trenches. 

Part of Rebecca’s job is also to build out strong relationships with a wide array of US lenders who have an interest in diversifying their climate investment portfolios. As a fintech, Zeti helps to educate lenders on and manage their investments in clean transportation as a new ESG asset class. Outside of Zeti, Rebecca is also the co-chair of the Los Angeles Chapter of Women in Climate Investing and Finance, a community (like NYC Fintech Women) committed to bringing together powerful women in the climate finance space. The group is growing across the US and London and hosts regular events to build the influence, confidence, and reach of some of the brightest leaders in the industry. 

Rebecca is excited to see fintech, climate, and ESG continue to collide. Recently back from COP28, she feels that the growth of climate as a sector will soon affect every industry. The power to make real change ultimately sits in the rooms where decisions about capital allocation are made. Rebecca is also excited to see large financial institutions beginning to consider their climate impact more intentionally and watch as creative fintech companies pop up to start supporting this transition. Rebecca dreams of a future where the finance industry brings a well-rounded approach to climate solutions and fintech plays a key role in scaling this global shift more efficiently.

More on Rebecca

Where you currently live: Santa Monica, CA

Living arrangement: Mostly by myself, but I have a roommate/great friend(!) who stays with me two weeks on/two weeks off and covers partial rent. It’s actually perfect

Family at home: Some plants but they all keep dying so there’s that

Hometown: San Diego, CA (Valley Center to be specific in case anyone’s been to our famous pumpkin patch)

Favorite hobby: Baking for people I love and dancing at all possible times (kitchen, grocery store, WFH desk, Uber rides, coffee shop lines, doesn’t matter)

Favorite show to binge: Weirdly not a Netflix gal and basically live under a rock when it comes to pop culture, but I do love me some Queer Eye, Schitt’s Creek and GBBO

What is one piece of advice someone told you that resonated with you that can give to other women in FinTech?     

“Know your metrics for success and own them” – my sister

Comparison is the thief of joy. Everyone has a different metric for success so be careful what you’re measuring yourself by. If that means picking a ladder to climb, climb it and forget about the ladders that others are climbing. If that means never compromising your voice, focus on what your voice sounds like and don’t get confused when others compromise theirs. If it means finding work-life balance, define that for you, write it down, and stick to it. The sooner you establish these metrics, the sooner you’ll be able to release the pressure to do it all and be it all, and the easier it’ll be to celebrate even the tiny wins! 

What is the most important lesson you have learned from a mistake you’ve made in the past? 

Your gut is right. I’ve constantly felt ‘new’ in different industries and it is way too easy for me to discount my perspective and hide behind my age or whatever excuse is the easiest. There’s a fine line between valuing others’ voices and undervaluing your own. There are career jumps I’ve missed, conversations that went unchecked, decisions that were delayed, and value that was lost by this little imposter voice creeping in and keeping me silent. What a LIE. Imposter syndrome is gross, real, sticky, fickle, and normal. It's also the biggest weight holding back the spreading of people's powerful, professional wings. I’ve learned that there is a way to assert your gut without compromising grace, respect, and humility. You can do both. There is a world in which we can listen to others AND ourselves. They do not exist in silos, and if we want to be wise leaders, builders, and listeners, they cannot. 

Daily Diary

6:00AM: Wake-up and move straight into journaling and some quiet prayer time before checking notifications 

6:45AM: Quick yoga stretch, tidy room, change from one comfy outfit into another, and maybe throw an ice roller on my face or make some tea

7:00AM -10:00AM: Internal calls with the UK to keep tempo on projects and maintain a sense of community overseas

10:00AM - 5:30PM: Every day is different, but usually some mix of external calls, coffee shop meetings, maybe a quick midday beach run, strategy flow time, and check-ins with the East Coast team

5:30PM: Golden hour phone call/walk n’ talk with a friend (and/or some yoga sculpt or a run if I missed it during the day)

7:00PM - 10:00PM: Personal admin time, networking events, cook a creative meal, dance class (when I’m really on top of things), date night, wine night with a friend, or a bit more working depending on the day

10:00PM: Bedtime!

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